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The education job market is in the midst of a major downturn.  It’s hard on anyone looking a teaching job.  Consider broadening your job search to on-line job market places.  Road to Teaching recommends K-12 Jobs.com.

Don’t lose hope.

-Eric

P.S. Check out Road to Teaching’s Teacher Interview page – the web’s largest collection of teacher interview questions.

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Hundreds of preservice, beginning, and RIF’d teachers attended a local teacher job fair.  There was a line of teachers that streched around the block to enter this job fair.  It was record attendance!  “Hiring” principals were ready to greet each perspective candidate and then rank them on a predetermined scale.  The scale is different for each principal, but its basically from the low end of do not to call back this candidate to, as one principal said, candidate “walks on water” and must be called to interview

I listened to several principals talk about their experiences at this job fair.  Some were funny and some were scary.  Each principal had their own approach when interacting with each prospective candidate.  One principals said he listens to candidates, only asking a few questions here and there.  Another principal said she asks the prospective candidates interview questions.  Her favorite questions was, “What is your ideal classroom?”  She said that many of the candidates would be stumped and just say “ummmmm.” 

How do you think these candidates were ranked?

I solicited advice from the principals on what candidates should do to help improve their chances of being called back on an interview.  Here are some nuggest of their advice:

Social Graces

Remember your manners and how to properly greet someone.  When you (the teacher candidate) approach a hiring principal at a job fair be sure to shake their hand, introduce yourself, and make eye contact.  From the start you need to establish a personal connection with the principal.  Next, ask the principal if they would like a copy of your resume.  A principal told me that too many candidates would come up, not introduce themselves, and hand them their resume without asking.  This is a no-no.  Start off your interaction on the right foot.

Do Your Homework

When you get notice of an upcoming teacher job fair do some basic homework.  Make a list of school districts and schools that interest you.  Then, do research on the schools (see my book for research strategies/tips).  Copy down your notes and review them right before you speak with the principal from that respective school.  This demonstrates to the hiring principal at the job fair that you have a strong interest in their school and you are familiar with it.  This will set you apart from other candidates, improving your ranking.  Also, it will give you some conversation material when it’s your turn to talk. 

Come Prepared

Another tip the principals told me was that job candidates should come to the fair with their resumes and, if possible, a few letters of recommendation.  The letters of recommendation give the prinicpal greater insight into who you are.

Additional Resources to Get You Hired

Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job

Web’s Largest Collection of Teacher Interview Questions

We can’t get through the day with0ut hearing about the economy.  Well, the bad economy has impacted education, specifically teacher hiring.  In some districts, hiring has been frozen.  Why?  Districts have no money for new hires or they are waiting to see how the stimulus money will trickle down from the the federal level to the state level to eventually the district level.  This weekend I spoke with a principal who said his hands are tied.  He can’t move on any hiring until this summer (when the District will release their budget).  This is extremely frustrating to principals who tend to want to wrap up their teacher hirings in April and May.  Its even more frustrating to aspiring teachers (job applicants) who are wondering when they will get an interview.

I asked the principal what his advice is to those teacher job applicants.  His advice was to ” keep being persistant.”  Here are some other ideas:

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From visiting student teacher chatrooms and speaking with student teachers, I understand that currently there is a significant challenge to find teaching jobs.  Yet, I also read and hear there is a shortage of teachers.  What does this all mean? 

I see this to mean several things.  Yes, there is a teacher shortage for certain specialized positions.  However, I would also argue that there is no teacher shortage for the broad teaching profession.  Without a doubt there is a high demand and low supply of teachers in certain areas (special education, ELL, math, and science) in high-need (inner city and rural) schools.  If you fall into this category then you are in a much better position then a student teacher endorsed in Social Studies, trying to land a job in the suburbs.  On the other hand, having an endorsement in a high demand area does not mean you lack competition.  Regardless of your endorsement or where you plan to teach, today’s principals are seeking individuals that are flexible, dedicated, and an asset to the school in more than one way.  How do you, as a student teacher, stand out?

I completely agree with teachercrispy‘s recent post, regarding not having a job by this time. I didn’t get my first teaching job until three days before school started. I was stressed and it felt the bills were quickly adding up. Leading up to that time, I had applied to several schools with no success.

In response I broadened my job search. Like teachercrispy recommended, I prepared to substitute teach, applying for certification, undergoing background checks, etc. I also broadened my search by geography, considering school districts that were within 40 miles of my house. Then, I searched job ads on craigslist, seeking alternative teaching positions. Another job search strategy is to email your network: family, friends, colleagues, school mates, etc., notifying them that you are currently looking for a teaching position and asking them to keep you in mind if they learn of any open (or soon-to-open) position. Finally, consider putting your job status on social networks, e.g. LinkedIn, to further build your network and improve your chances of landing a job.

Most importantly, keep a positive attitude and don’t quit!