Happy New Year! I hope everyone is ready for a fantastic 2014, and if you are searching for a teaching position this year, I wish you all the best! For those of you who have begun your search for a 2014-2015 academic year teaching position know the intensity and time that can go along with creating professional documents, gathering necessary materials, and identifying districts where you would like to teach. So, how do you get a job? The first step is to apply, but in order to do so you must be prepared! My advice is to pace yourself, but try to have everything listed below (5 steps) completed no later than the second week of February, let's say Valentine's Day for reference. These are guidelines and may need to be adjusted depending on where you are applying and/or if you are attending district recruitment fairs.
Step 1 - Professional Cover Letter: Your cover letter is one of the first, if not the first, documents that human resources professionals will review once you have submitted your application materials for a teaching position. Try to keep it at one page and follow proper business letter formatting. This letter should impress the employer and not only keep their interest throughout, but entice them to look further at your additional materials and ask you for an interview. This is the time you to write about your experiences, how you are unique as an educator, and how you could benefit their district and students.
Step 2 - Professional Résumé: This document should be no more than 2 pages, but 1 page is typically preferred by the majority of human resources personnel. There are some exceptions; my advice would be to discuss any concerns you have with your college or campus career center. This document, along with your cover letter, will help you get an interview and should include: education; relevant experience such as professional, volunteer, and leadership; and honors and awards.
Step 3 - Professional References and Letters of Recommendation: You should have an appropriately formatted reference page which includes at least 3 references. To accompany the reference page, you should also have at least 3 letters of recommendation. (Individuals, who write your letters of recommendation, will also be the contacts on your reference page.) Additionally, you can include up to 3 more contacts on your reference page, but you do not need to obtain letters of recommendation from these individuals (although you can if you choose to); they can solely serve as references. Professionals who have seen you teach or work closely with children will hold the most merit as letter writers when applying for teaching positions.
Step 4 - Additional Documents: You need to gather other necessary documents for applications such as: a transcript (unofficial transcripts typically suffice initially); a copy of your teaching certificate (if you have already graduated and obtained certification) or if you have not yet graduated, a letter from your college stating when it is expected you will receive your certification and/or degree; and any other pertinent materials that can benefit you in the application process.
Step 5 - Identify Where You Would Like to Work: If you have not yet identified at least 20 districts (yes, you read that correctly...20 - especially if you majored in a surplus area such as elementary, social studies, or physical education) where you would like to apply, then now is the time! My suggestion is to pick your top 5 districts and then begin looking at surrounding districts until you find 20!
Okay, so that is the process in a nutshell...once you have completed these steps, you should be ready to apply for teaching positions! I have outlined this process in 5 steps so it does not seem so overwhelming. Your college and/or university career center staff will be able to help you as well - that is why we are here!!! If you have never created a professional document such as the ones I have listed above, many colleges and universities have examples on their websites. Please feel free to utilize the resources found on the University of Missouri College of Education Career Services webpage at: http://caps.missouri.edu.
Good luck to each and every one of you!
Mrs. Michelle Bollinger, M.P.A.
Education Career Services Coordinator
University of Missouri (Columbia, Missouri)