What do you do if the school year’s already started, and you don’t have a teaching job yet? Or you’ve been looking for awhile and all the teaching jobs have evaporated? Follow these five steps to land a teaching job, even mid-year.
- Check district websites every day. August is the biggest hiring month of the year. I do know a few teachers who were hired in October due to shuffling numbers and changes in enrollment. Even if it’s mid-year, don’t despair. I got my best teaching job ever in December, and have been in the same district now for years.
- Sub in your target districts and schools. There’s a huge sub shortage crisis in Washington State. Good subs are hard to find, and a reliable, trusty guest teacher. Decide on what grade levels you’re interested in and sub away! When you arrive in the morning, get there early. Talk to the office manager and find out the lay of the school. Always bring extra activities, in case the classroom teacher did not leave plans. If you don’t have copies to make during your prep period, walk around the school and other teachers in the building know that you’re available to sub. In no time, you’ll likely have teachers coming to you months in advance to book your services. Caveat: do not go stalking for sub jobs. I met one sub who would plonk herself in front of the school office every day. Year after year, she never landed a regular classroom job. Although her intentions were admirable, she was just a tad off. I doubt she knew how wacko she appeared.
- Wear a conservative suit for the interview, even if it’s a casual school. Do NOT dress like a teacher for the job interview. Dress like a principal or a superintendent. If you’re a woman, wear simple earrings, like pearls or simple diamond studs. I don’t care if you don’t like dressing up. You want a job, right?
- Have a hearty, firm handshake and make eye contact. A wimpy handshake is a deal breaker for me. I’ve been on several hiring committees–I recall one candidate didn’t even greet me or look at the hiring questions before the interview. He rarely made eye contact during the interview. Despite his skills and qualifications, other hiring team members, and I didn’t like him. His aloof demeanor and prior experiences with the other team members was off-putting- we all couldn’t put our finger on it. Was it the handshake? Or the shifty eye contact?
- Thank the team and write a note to the hiring supervisor. Make sure to thank everyone’s hand, even on the way out (unless, of course, there are twenty-three people on the hiring committee).
If those steps don’t work, go deep and reflect. Ask yourself:
- Do you really want to teach?
- How’s your handshake, really? Check your handshake and eye contact. Practice a strong handshake with your friends. I don’t care if you don’t like strong handshakes. Again, you want a job, right?
- Are you wearing strong cologne or deodorant? Or do you have body odor or halitosis? I cannot stand the smell of patchouli and certain heady perfumes. I would not hire someone who reeked of those aromas, as I wouldn’t want to smell it day in and day out. Ugh.
- Are you sending social messages that you’re unaware of or missing social cues? As an ADHDer, I’ve studied social skills and people so I can learn how to decode and interact with neurotypical peeps. Yes, ADHD is part of who I am and I totally embrace it. However, I know I can’t blurt out whatever I’m thinking in certain professional situations or make unrelated, random comments about ideas that float through my head. I keep studying human behavior, and focus on continually improving my people skills. I know this sounds harsh- yet this is something to look really hard into. It may be that you need to work extra hard on it. Here’s a test to determine your Autism-Spectrum Quotient, or AQ, created by psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre. Please note that only a doctor, psychologist, or other mental health professional can make diagnoses.
- Are you dressing like you want the job? Or are you dressing like a teacher? There’s an old saying to dress two levels above your pay grade. Wise words. Think of it as your job-getting uniform, especially if you detest dressing up.
- Is there something in your personnel file or a reference you need to clear up? Are you missing references? Or do you have a past reference you need to clear the air with?
- Does your resume need a makeover? I’ve seen typos here and there in resumes and cover letters. Make sure that your cover letter is specific to the job, and not for another school or district.
- Do you have a complete list of current references with correct contact information? Instead of the minimum amount of references, list several (not more than seven) so that a hiring supervisor can go through the list quickly. Include cell phones, work phones, and work emails. The faster they can contact the references, the sooner you can land your teaching job!