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September Job Search Tips

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Since it is September, post-Labor Day, I will assume that those of you reading this are either professionals in the field, seniors about to graduate or recent graduates who haven't secured that permanent position and are looking for assistance (also known as "freaking out....").
First, for the recent graduates, take a deep breath. Repeat. Lay off the Energy drinks and coffee. Stay Calm and Prepare to Carry On. There is hope! Although the school year has started, there are still opportunities. Here are a few suggestions for what you can do:

* Make sure you still have your materials active in the databases, whether it is a regional or national database, or in the office of the local school, make sure they are still viable.
* Contact your alma mater, especially your Career Center. A few charge, but most will provide you with any assistance they can. Everything from resume reviews to personal meetings.
* Substitute teaching is still a way to gain experience and keep visible. But try to organize it. You will probably need a "day job" to pay the bills, but see if you can have one day dedicated to professional activity. If you don't sub, work on applications for the next cycle of job openings. And when you do substitute, make sure the people in that school have your resume. Ask for feedback.
* Long Term Substitutes are still substitutes. Give out your resume while there. Ask for feedback. One advantage is that a long-term sub position may qualify you for the internal applicant pool. Be sure to ask about anticipated openings. Consider any time you spend in a school an onsite interview.
* If you don't have a position, think about a job or volunteer experience where people who are doing what you want to do "hang out". One local teacher supply business has a revolving door of employees, mainly because they hear about the openings that are coming up in area school districts before anyone else.
* Keep positive. If you can, find a support group or mentor, but make sure it is productive and positive. A "pity party" does no one any good and some support groups turn into that.

If you are a senior either student teaching or about to, good luck! Any advance preparation you can do now will allow you to focus more on that experience, and the student teaching experience is paramount.
Visit your career center, use their resources. Develop a checklist of what you need to have - here is a short list to get you started:
*Reference letters
*Clearances and required test scores
*Cover letter
*Practice interview and questions
*Professional outfit for interviewing

Just having those simple items available will make you much easier to consider as an applicant. And the easier you are to employ, the better your chances!

Finally for the professionals in the field:
Reach out to recent alums, offer assistance or at least support. I have found that even alumni that knew me well were reluctant to connect because they didn't know if I worked with them after they graduated, or worse, they were embarrassed about not having a position.
Be honest - if you see a problem in how a person is applying, or if they have a flaw, let them know. False hope is worse than a harsh reality. One of the most difficult things I have had to do was to explain to an education major that the criminal citation would remove them from any consideration in a public school. But everyone I have had to tell has told me they appreciated my frank and honest approach.
Be positive. You may not be able to find a position for everyone, but make a difference with the ones who meet you halfway!

Good luck to all with the new academic year - it will go by quickly!

Phil Tripp
West Chester University Career Center (retired)
West Chester, PA

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