Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Job Hunt Journey Part One: The Basics

Welcome to my Job Hunt Journey Part One!  I'm sorry I've fallen off the face of the Earth.  I promise I've bookmarked all your amazing recent posts in my "To Check Out" folder!

What's been consuming my time?  The Job Hunt, of course!  Thanks everyone for the great advice and encouragement.  I have been doing a lot of soul-searching and praying and I decided to take the plunge and start applying for a new position.  So far I've only been applying for Kindergarten because that is definitely where I feel called (so much for all my student teaching and field experiences in 6th grade!)

I've been doing a LOT of research (on the web, job fair magazines, etc.) on how to get a teaching job and I decided to share what I've learned in a series of blog posts!  I hope it's helpful to have all the following great information in one place.  So, let's get down to it... the basics!

Resume
To sum up all the most repetitive advice I received, I would say this:
  • Use buzzwords
    • Limit "I" statements
    • Use keywords the school/district is looking for (e.g. technology integration)
    • Use strong, active verbs (for example, instead of saying "Experience with integrating technology" change it to "Integrated technology")
  • Prominently feature accomplishments
    • Be specific
  • Keep it clear, organized and professional
    • Use bullet points
    • Use a standard font
    • Don't use clip art!
    • Obviously... check your GRAMMAR!  Don't just read it yourself; ask others to look it over for you as well.
So, trying to keep all this in mind, here's what I came up with... and yes it's two pages!  There is a lot of conflicting advice on resume length.  Some people say one page, some people say two.  At any rate, definitely don't go longer than two pages!


Let me know what you think!  I am most definitely not the resume expert.  For more resume tips, you can check out these resources:

Cover Letter
You've got a few options for your cover letter: either a general school-district cover letter, or school-specific ones.  Your choice will depend on your time frame and how many attachments the school district will allow you to have on your online application.  Either way you've got a little bit of homework to do!  Try to incorporate the following into your cover letter...
  • Who reviews the online applications?  Is it principals, or is it a selection committee and/or hiring manager?  Call the school district's HR to find out so you can address your cover letter accordingly.  When dropping off cover letters at individual schools or emailing principals, naturally use the principal's name.
  • What is the school/school district mission?  What matters to them and what are they looking for in their teachers? (Note: Look at the school's parent handbook!)
  • What curriculum and teaching philosophies does the school/school district follow?  (Note: Classroom Websites are a great place to find this information!)
Here is one of my school-specific cover letters.  In the opening, I introduced myself and expressed my interest in the position.  In the middle bodies, I went into specifics about why I would be a good fit.  In the conclusion, I thanked the reader and invited them to look at my e-portfolio.  


Here are some cover letter resources...



Business Card
I have always ordered my business cards from Vistaprint.  They are very affordable and turn out great!  Vistaprint has a variety of templates you can choose from, or you can make your own.  This time I went with a pre-made template because I am just so busy.  Here's the layout I went with (I love the bright primary colors):



How Do I Stand Out?
Color is one of those things I found a lot of mixed advice about.  Some people suggest using a splash of color on the resume, other people say to print the resume on colored paper.  At first I went with a bright yellow file jacket from Office Depot (color-coordinated with my business card), but printed my resume onto nice white resume paper.  The file jacket included my business card, cover letter, resume, references, and two recent letters of recommendation.


THEN I read a post on A-Z Teacher Forums about creating a mini-portfolio to give to principals.  At first I was scared.  Too out of the box?  Too creative?  Too much on top of my e-portfolio?  Then I remembered my favorite piece of advice from my bloggy friends: just be yourself.  If putting in the extra time, effort, and creativity for a mini folio disqualifies me for a position, do I really want to work there anyway?

Sooooo I created a mini portfolio to go in the file jacket instead (color-coordinated to the business card, of course!)  Mini as in 20 pages.  I prefer to look at it as 10 double-sided pages.  (What can I say?  I'm an English major.  Brevity is beyond me!)


I drop off my file jacket at schools and email the principal a few days later.  I don't ask to see the principal when visiting the school; they are very busy and often don't appreciate drop-ins like that, but I do make sure to be very friendly to the secretary!  I can't overstate how important it is to smile and make a good impression on the secretary.  All of my interviews have come from places where I made good contact with the school secretary.  I also email the school secretary after the drop-off, thanking her for taking the time to deliver my portfolio.

I also recommend you check out The Cornerstone for Teachers on How to Get a Job as a Teacher.  This article includes great advice and insights from teachers and administrators!

Next up: Professional Portfolios!  I will be talking about my Mini Hiring Portfolio, Digital Portfolio, and Professional Binder Portfolio.  Hope everyone is having a good week!

13 comments:

  1. I'm telling you- come up here! You will have a job! My boss is not asking back tons of teachers and we can get you in!!! Otherwise, I heard they pay the big bucks and are desperate in Texas. xoxoxo

    Irene
    Learning With Mrs. Leeby

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    1. I know! :) I'd love to go back to the Midwest, but my hubby is under a double contract now out here... police department and Air Force! I'd love to work with you!!!

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  2. Really amazing business cards idea...very inspiring cards design and superb coloring..!!!!!

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  3. What a great post... with such a professional approach you are sure to get hired!

    Cindy
    Granny Goes to School

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  4. I love the yellow folder and coordinating business cards! Best of luck!
    Sara
    Polka Dot Kinders

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  5. Well, well my dear friend Jessica, welcome to my world. I just interviewed yesterday in a Christian school as a director of the pre-k. I am competing with 14 other applicants. It is not a day care center but a school and they operate on a school year calendar, which is what I am looking for. The competition is fierce. In our county, there is a hiring freeze. They are excessing teachers...cutting them from the budget and telling them they are not needed at their school anymore and they are needing to re-apply for their jobs...for real. So there goes any chances of getting into the public school system for me this year anyway. Anyway...good luck with your job search. I hope I did not bum you out. You have done so well where you are and your blog has shown that. I know that you are such a great teacher you will surely get hired quickly. YOur resume looks fabulous Jess. Very well done!!!

    You good friend,
    Sharon WInter

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    1. Thanks Sharon! It is pretty crazy here too. All my principals that knew me retired the year I graduated, so it's been impossible trying to get in the public school system. GOOD LUCK! I will be praying for you, I know you'd be a wonderful director. And then you can hire me. :)

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  6. Good luck on finding a job. I knew I hadn't seen you post in awhile so I thought I'd stop in and see what was up. Looks like you have some awesome stuff to give to principals so I know you'll be getting some calls soon! :)

    Nicki
    Mrs. Thigpen's Kindergarten

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    1. Thanks Nicki, you are so kind! Nothing has happened yet but I hope to hear something soon! :)

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  7. Good luck! I was in the position of job hunting last year...no fun! And competition around here is fierce 600-700 applicants for 1 position! I ended up hiring a professional resume writer, because I am just not good at talking about myself. One thing she did that I loved was include a quote from one of my former principals on my resume towards the top, not sure if it helped or not but it seemed different. I LOVE your mini portfolio!! I think it will help you stand out. Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

    Sarah
    Clearly Kindergarten

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    1. I might have to look into that! The situation is the same here. Thanks Sarah, everyone's support has meant so much to me!

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