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Supercharge Your Career, Part 1!

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This month's entries will focus on Supercharging Your Teaching Career.  Whether you are seeking to land your dream teaching job, or focused on being the best you can be in your current position, we'll have something for you here.

Schools across America have opened their doors for a new school year, ripe with excited and anxious students and equally eager teachers, ready to take on the world.  Many districts are in the midst of their last hiring surge as their enrollment numbers settle in and the last few contracts are handed out.  If you are still searching, there is still a chance you could be on that lucky list.  If you end up substitute teaching, that's not only okay, it's a BONUS, and dare I say, it can even be a blast!  We'll talk about that in detail in another post.  Finally, if you are walking into your dream classroom, you'll want to knock their socks off and make it even better. 

If you're hoping to snag one of those last few contracts in the coming weeks, here are some practical tips for making your application stand out, and nailing the interview:

Launch Your Resume to the Top of the Pile:

  • Study the job description and align your resume with the qualifications they are seeking. In a 30 second scan of your resume, they want to know if you fit the job description. Show them!
  • Highlight special skills such as fluency in a language, use of technology, coaching, etc.
  • If you have previous job experiences that are related and/or unrelated to this field, list them in different sections.  For example, include a "Related Experiences" section, followed by "Additional Experiences," where you can list previous job titles, volunteer work or military experience.  You don't need to elaborate on them, but listing them gives a broad perspective of who you are.  It tells your story.
  • Make sure your letters of recommendation are within the last 18 months.  If they are older, consider acquiring more recent references from professionals who can speak to your classroom teaching skills.
  • Not. One. Single. Grammatical. Error.  AMEN!

Nailing the Interview:

  • Dressing professionally means that when people you encounter every day see you in your interview attire, they are moved to comment about how professional you look. Common mistake: "I'll wear what I would normally wear in my classroom once I get the job." No. You have to get the job first!
  • Examples, examples, examples!  In every interview, the best way to answer questions is to give them examples of what you have done, or what you hope to implement based on your knowledge and experience. First, this tends to lower your interview anxiety because you're simply recounting an experience that addresses their question. Second, it allows your passion to exude from you as you talk. This is what they want to see most once you get to the interview. Until now, everyone looks similar on paper.  Now you need to show them what it would be like to be a student in your classroom.  Make them want to BE that student!
  • Practice.  Generate a list of potential questions from your college/university or others who are in the field and practice answering questions.  Do this with people you trust who will give you honest feedback. 
  • Answer the question being asked.  Do not get sidetracked onto other subjects. Practice will help here.
  • Leave a thank-you note. This is a big deal and not many candidates take advantage of the opportunity. After you leave the interview, go to a quiet area or even your vehicle and hand-write and thank you note.  Address it to the hiring team and mention something specific about the interview. "Thank you for your time today. I enjoyed discussing _______ and I look forward to the opportunity to join your team." Bring the note back inside and give it to the person who is the glue that holds everything together; the school secretary. While this move will not guarantee you the job, it shows a high level of professionalism that will make you stand out.

Good luck to all of you as you seek your dream job.  Next week we'll talk about the awesomeness of substitute teaching.  That is not a typo.

 

Cathy Stephens, Director

Office of Educational Certification & Career Services

Whitworth University

Spokane, WA

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