Seeking the Job of Your Dreams: How to Make the Most of Your Teaching Certificate
Four years of university, student teaching and innumerable hours you spent studying for the state certification test are now over and you finally hold that all-important piece of documentation in your exhausted hand. That’s right: your teaching certification allows you to now seek gainful employment in your state- but what does this exactly mean? You’ve probably heard a lot of buzz surrounding the current teaching shortage in America, but don’t assume this means you’ll land your dream job in the fall. Instead, learn the truths of searching for a job in teaching, including how to start the search, ace that interview and even the role earning an advanced degree can play in your ultimate success.
Before You Search
Many newly anointed teaching professionals make the mistake of jumping straight into searching for a job before getting all of their ducks in a row. To begin, it’s wise to update your resume to include any pertinent awards, honors and your latest employment experiences. Take this time to also weed out any older and irrelevant points, which could actually harm you by creating an overly descriptive and ultimately pointless, resume. Many employers also require a cover letter, which should be short, sweet, to the point and no longer than a page long. Include any pertinent information, including your name, address and the position you’re applying for, in the first paragraph. In the second, state why you’re the ideal candidate for the job. Be specific and avoid overgeneralizing your experiences, as these are often the same as every other person applying for this position. Take this time to also create an impressive list of references, as this can ultimately give you the edge you need over the competition.
Hitting the Pavement
When it comes time to start your job search, remember it’s always wise to work smarter and not harder. Begin by checking your school district’s website. You’ll find a wealth of useful information, including any vacancies, job requirements, future job fairs and the district’s teaching requirements. If possible, attend as many job fairs in your school district or state, as these will not only provide you with a list of school’s presently hiring, they’ll also allow you to make valuable connections, which will come in handy down the road if you don’t land your dream job right out of the gate.
Applying for Jobs
You’ll quickly discover that no two job applications are alike; every private school or public district has its own rules, regulations and deadlines. Read through the job description of each carefully to determine if you meet the minimum requirements. Some institutions will only require a resume and cover letter, while others will expect you to complete an application and present a teaching statement. Whatever the case, pay attention to watch for a deadline and hand in your application or resume as quickly as possible. If applying for multiple positions, keep a detailed record of responses and any correspondence to ensure you don’t apply for the same job, or inquire about your application, more than once.
Handling the Interview
Your application impressed the district’s human resources coordinator and you’ve landed that coveted interview. It goes without saying that you should dress professionally, show up on time and remain courteous throughout the conversation. If you want to distinguish yourself from the competition, don’t be afraid to highlight your strengths, admit where you need a little work, and speak passionately about your love of teaching and helping students live up to their potential. You might be surprised at how your candor and ability to admit your faults can ultimately blow away the competition and help you land the job.
Working in a Specialized Field
If you plan to specialize, including seeking employment in special education with a special education degree, it’s critical to have more than a basic teaching certification and job experience on your resume. Many districts are now seeking candidates that possess specific credentials, including board certified behavior analysts. These professionals work specifically with children that demonstrate any number of behavioral issue and special needs. Be aware that becoming one of these analysts requires at least 1,500 hours of practical work experience, in addition to your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in teaching.
When it comes time to finally begin the application process, don’t discount the opportunities found in the nonprofit sector. Several nonprofit organizations, including AmeriCorps, Teach for America and Teach for All, are willing to hire recent graduates to fill a number of temporary and permanent positions.