1. It is presented in the format which we specified.
Following instructions is a trait most employers value. As a result, a simple thing like following the instructions for how to apply for the job opening at our school is going to speak volumes about you. We use a standardized application form at our school in order to comply with all sorts of legal requirements. So, if you use something other than the form we specify, your chances of making the first cut are fairly slim. Some schools will let you choose the application format. Others are very specific. Follow each school's instructions to the letter.
For example, this school wants you to apply via email in a format you choose. "Please send resume to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Journalism” in the subject line."
This school wants you to send a formal application via snail mail: "Candidates for all faculty positions should send a letter of interest, resume, a list of three references and academic transcripts"
Yet another school cautions applicants: "Please do not submit any documents in PDF format."
The important thing for you to remember is that each school is unique. It does things its way. That, after all, is the essence of being a private school.
2. It offers the credentials and experience which we are looking for.
If you don't have the credentials and experience we seek and other candidates do, your chances of getting an interview will probably be slim. You would have to have an advantage like being an alum or being known to a staff member in order to be considered. Here are some examples of the kind of credentials and experiences schools look for.
Packer Collegiate wants the journalism teacher to have the following: "A Master’s degree in English, Journalism, or Education is preferred, but not required."
Far Hills Country Day School wants a World Language Department Head who is "An experienced educator/instructor to help deliver our traditional program using progressive methods. "
3. You state your objective clearly and cogently.
"I love teaching. I especially like teaching young people." Somewhere, somehow you need to get that point across. That's what schools look for. It's what parents want. Combine that love of teaching and passion for your subject with solid experience and superb credentials and you will advance to the front of the line.
From the skills and competencies required for a position at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School: "The candidate will demonstrate the following: Enjoys working with high school aged students Excellent writing skills Warmth, sense of humor, and tact"
And Maret School's requirements for a Spanish teacher: "Strong candidates will be enthusiastic about teaching both middle and upper school students."
4. You have strong references.
Most schools require three references. These should be previous employers wherever possible. Yes, we will ask them why you left and under what terms. It matters to us that you left your previous position because your contract was not renewed. So we will ask why that occurred. If your spouse was transferred and you had to move to a new city, we will need to know that. Consequently, make certain that your references are enthusiastic supporters of you and your teaching career.
What do you do if you are just starting out? References from your professors and trusted community leaders will help. You need advocates. Find the best ones you can.
As you probably have realized, applying to any private school for employment demands that you be completely tuned in to that particular school's requirements. Spend time reviewing each school's web site in order to understand its educational philosophy and perspective. That will help you craft an application package which at the very least will get your application noticed.
Robert Knox Kennedy is a consultant who has written extensively about private schools.