As summer comes to a close, many schools begin new teacher orientation, teacher workshops, and professional development activities before the start of school. Maybe you are one of those new teachers anxiously awaiting your orientation and the start of the school year. Or, perhaps you've yet to receive a full-time offer. In a tight education job market, your job search may take longer than anticipated. If you haven't landed a full-time teaching position, don't lose hope! There are steps you can take to stay connected and keep your skills sharp while continuing your search.
• Stay positive. A large part of the job search is projecting your skills and experience in a positive way. If you become negative or defeated, this will come across to others.
• Stay engaged. Take steps to remain involved in the field. You can do this in a number of ways.
Substitute teaching keeps you in the classroom and exposed to teachers and building administrators. Be sure to introduce yourself to fellow teachers and administrators, be professional, and express curiosity and interest in the school. Be open to long-term substitute opportunities or teaching assistant roles.
Besides substitute teaching, consider opportunities to volunteer in educational settings. Identify local education-oriented non-profits and reach out regarding opportunities to interact with students through tutoring or mentoring in a group or one-on-one setting.
• Expand your horizons. Your geographic horizons, that is. Perhaps you've been seeking in a city with numerous teacher education programs and, therefore, lots of competition for jobs. Or, maybe you've been applying within a small set of school districts. Reconsider the limits you may have placed on yourself. Would you consider relocation to a larger city or a smaller town? Can you look for positions within a bigger radius and manage a longer commute?
• Keep searching and applying. You do not have to wait until next spring or summer to search for a teaching job. Positions open throughout the school year for a number of personal and professional reasons. Stay attuned to job boards and school district websites and keep in touch with your contacts in the field. Apply promptly for new openings with fresh, customized job search documents.
• Consider alternatives. There are opportunities for education majors outside of the K-12 classroom. Carefully consider how your skills and experience may be transferable to other types of roles and industries. Some options to consider may include: non-profits, educational technology, publishing, higher education, administration, training and development. To be competitive within alternate fields, be sure to customize your resume and cover letter. Connect with career services at your college or university for assistance.
If you are still seeking, keep it up. Stay positive. Remain connected with classmates, resources from your college or university, and teachers and administrators with whom you've worked in the past. Reassess your search and determine what changes are needed to improve your chances for success.
Assistant Director, Career Development
Webster University, St. Louis, MO