Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to Find a Teaching Job and Not Lose Your Mind Doing It

Last summer, when I officially decided I wanted to start teaching because a.) I was tired of getting yelled on everyday by people on vacation and b.) I wanted to start making more money, I really had no idea what to do.

I had a resume that I had written in the fall of 2010 during my last semester of actually going to "teach me to be a teacher" college classes and thats about it.  I didn't have cover letter or really any idea how to go about looking for a teaching job.  And to be honest I was SHOCKED when I got a call to come in and interview at ERHS.  I had jumped onto the OCPS website (which is the only school district in Orlando) and just started applying for open high school positions.  ERHS was the very last school I applied to and the ONLY one to call me for an interview.

Here's a look at the resume that got me my first teaching job:

**I had no clue how to just post the picture of the document.  #bloggerchallenged

As you can see.......this resume literally tell you absolutely NOTHING about me. Thus, why I was slightly confused as to HOW I got the job.  Not that I'm complaining AT ALL...obviously.

Anywho, after a pretty stellar first year in the teaching field the decision to move back to Texas and teach to be closer to family was pretty easy to get on board with.  And since I had gotten a job in Florida so easily I figured getting in one in Texas would be piece of cake.

Oh how wrong I was.  9 schools districts, 30 schools, and about 60 emails later.....I finally got a job!

It was NOT as easy the second time around.  And ultimately I think the reason why it took so long was because I was applying for a job in one state while living in another. So in an effort to hopefully prepare someone else for the exhausting and frustrating task of applying for teaching jobs while you live out of state, I've compiled a list of 7 tips to help make the process a little easier.

Here we go:

1. Get all documents together beforehand- By documents I mean everything they'll be asking you for on the online application.  
This includes: your teaching certificate(s), you'll need the issue date and expiration date.  Education, the applications want to know your major, GPA, and number of  credit hours completed.  I ended up printing out my unofficial transcripts from college.  It made filling in that information a lot easier.  Work experience, most of the applications I filled out wanted to know my work experience from the last 5-10 years. (YES 10 YEARS!!)  I ended up typing up all the descriptions and dates and supervisors names from my previous jobs in a Word Document.  That way I just had to copy and paste the information into the applications.  Much easier.  References, I had four references that I would list on pretty much every application.  Nowadays most of them send an automatic reference email to the email address provided.  But again I typed up my references in word document so that again, I could just copy and paste the information.  The point is if you know you're going to be applying for multiple school districts have all the information your going to need next to you!  This will help with time and your sanity as you navigate the application process.

2. Have a killer resume/cover letter -  One of the first things I did was revamp my resume and write a cover letter. This was at the urging of my roommate and fellow teacher, Megan.  She took one look at my orginial resume and suggested I spruce it up a bit.  Then she helped me write a cover letter that was easy to adjust based on the school district I applied for.  Here's the new resume:



Way more impressive!  

3. Do your research - Once you know you want to move and know what city you want to move to, it's time to do your research on the school districts themselves.  Figure out which would be a right fit for you.  Or you can do what I did and just started applying all over the place.  Thus the 9 districts.  Things to look for include: Location - is the district in a part of the city you want to live in, Demographics- of the schools themselves, Salary- districts pay grade vary different based on size and overall wealth of the district, and look into the schools within the districts themselves so you're familiar with how many elementary, middle and high schools there are within the district.

4. Use your Network - This one is pretty simple, if you know anyone else who teaches in your desired city, reach out to them and let them know you're looking.  One of my best friends is a teacher in the district I was most interested in and she worked her ass off to help me get a job there too.  She emailed me a list of all the middle/high school principals and emailed everyone she knew that I was looking.  I reached out to several other people I knew in the teaching field hoping it would give me an in.  Ultimately for me, I had two job offers on the table, one through someone I knew and the other based solely off my resume.  

5. Go to a Job Fair- If you're able to attend a school districts job fair, I highly recommend you do.  I attended a job fair in the district I was the most interested in and while I didn't leave with a job, I did leave with my resume in the hands of several schools.  Now, I'm sure you're thinking oh then you got an interview or something with one of them.  Sadly no.....I did not.  But I attribute that to the fact that I still lived in Florida when I attended and I think most of the schools probably didn't think I was serious about moving.  

6.  Give yourself time - You need to give yourself time to do two things.  One, give yourself time to fill out the applications.  It probably took me about 45 minutes to an hour to fill out each application.  It was very time consuming.  Additionally there were some applications that required you to answer extra questions about your teaching philosophy, why you became a teacher, etc.  I ended up typing those in a work document as well, just in case.  Second, give yourself time to email principals and department heads.  Every time I applied at a school, I emailed the principal and if I could find the department head I would email him/her as well.  Just to introduce myself and give them my resume and cover letter directly.  Now I'd love to be able to tell you, that they all responded.  But that didn't happen.  I only heard back from about 6 or 7 of the people I actually emailed.  But luckily one of those responses, got me the job I got!  

7. Be Patient - I officially started this process in February and it did not end until July.  6 months of searching is what it took before I finally was offered a job.  You must be patient!  I got very very lucky my first time around.  And it was a big wake up call to realize that every single school I applied for didn't automatically ask me to interview.  That may sounds a tad conceited and I don't mean it to, it was just so easy the first time.  I did not expect to go through 6 months of job searching.  Also realize that while some schools post openings early, the majority of them will not actively start making calls until the end of May.  They'll wait till the end of the school year to get super serious about filling their open positions.  But I don't regret starting early.  I don't regret it at all.

Well there you have it.  My 7 tips to finding a teaching job.  It was an exhausting experience.  Exhausting and scary and frustrating.  Especially once I officially told ERHS that I wasn't coming back the next year.  Then it got even worse once the school year was officially over and I was officially jobless.  But once I got the word that I was officially being offered a position, it made those 6 months totally 100% worth it!

Hopefully these tips have been helpful! :)

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