As a brand new teacher, competing with those from other universities and those with teaching experience, how do you make yourself stand out on paper? Here are six tips that might help you as you look for that pivotal first-year teaching job.
Full disclosure: I am no expert in the job search, nor am I an administrator or even a very experienced teacher. But as I was looking for jobs, I learned a lot and am hoping to share that information with you.
- Know where to look online. Most new graduates know to look on WECAN, the Wisconsin Educator Career Access Network. For a district to become a member of WECAN, they need to pay, so not all districts in Wisconsin post jobs there! Many districts post jobs through the Wisconsin.gov jobs site. Just click on Education under categories and select the appropriate subcategory (science, mathematics, elementary/middle education, etc.). The third option is to check out the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Just scroll down and under Category, select Schools-Teachers.
- Check for jobs every single day. I last looked on WECAN three days ago. In the time since, five more jobs in Wisconsin have been added for my content area (Spanish). It is absolutely necessary to keep checking, because the window for application is sometimes quite short (a week or two). If you miss that, the job is often gone. Be persistent.
- Use your connections. If you know someone who knows someone who teaches in the district, do NOT be afraid to send an e-mail or make a quick phone call to that person. Search the faculty list on the school’s website. Look for names of former elementary/ middle/ high-school teachers. Ask your friends if they know anyone who teaches there. I got my very first job because my former high school English teacher is now the librarian at the school where I applied. Just having someone mention your name to an administrator often moves your application to the top of the massive pile.
- Edit your resume! Having errors on your resume is an absolute reason why you won’t be interviewed, I would assume. A friend of mine was applying for jobs and had already submitted her materials to a few districts. She then realized that her phone number was incorrect on her resume – she had flipped two digits. Check for those things before you hit submit! Also make sure you highlight things so that a school administrator can see the connection between working as a hostess and applying as a 6th grade teacher. Play with your words. Be creative.
- Tailor your cover letter and the 12 questions on WECAN. Do research on the district before you apply. Spending that extra 20 minutes on your cover letter could mean the difference between getting and interview or not. Here are some things to look for: Does the school mention using backwards design in the job description or on their website? Talk about how you use backwards design. Does the school mention unique challenges given the diversity of the school? Talk about your experience with classroom management and highlight your strengths. Does the school talk about using technology and building 21st century skills? Mention that! Also mention your willingness to become involved in extracurricular activities, especially if the district has posted openings for coaches or advisors. Your cover letter needs to make you sound like a great fit for the district.
- Follow the directions. Administrators and district offices are extremely busy places. Some districts are extremely clear about the application process, and it is vital that you follow those directions. Here are some examples I pulled off WECAN:
- Applicants should upload additional application materials electronically through WECAN. Materials to upload include: cover letter, resume, transcripts, 3 letters of recommendation and license. Make sure to post all those things on WECAN and have them viewable to the employer! If you are awaiting your license from DPI, mention that in your cover letter.
- Please be sure to use the same email address for WECAN and the Teacher Insight. Some districts will have you complete the Teacher Insight, which is a survey that includes questions about how you would handle different situations, among other things. Complete that if it’s required!
- Please do not contact school locations. All application materials will be presented at the completion of the deadline date and you will be contacted if an interview is desired. Don’t even think about calling the school or the district or sending an e-mail to the principal.
Once you get called for an interview, follow Nick McDaniel’s tips! Good luck!