There was a little piece on NPR which caught my attention. While they were discussing employment in the corporate world, I believe that some of the same concerns and advice also apply to teachers. Simply put, if you have a job, stay put unless you are being forced to move for non-job related reasons. Let's look at the pros and cons of looking for a job while you are employed versus not being employed.
Advantages to being Employed
Unless the school you are working at is in financial trouble, stay put. Don't let minor disagreements or annoyances mushroom into a deal-breaking situation where the school will not renew your contract. Don't let it come to that. Swallow your pride but stick by your principles. Otherwise you really will be shooting yourself in the foot.
Prove your value to the school and school community. A team player is always a valuable asset. So is a faculty member who allows the school to bathe in her reflected glory. If your new book has hit the New York Times Best Seller list, what's not to like?
Complete that doctorate. Present at that professional seminar. Perform in that festival. Those positive actions are proof that you are engaged and active in your subject and interest areas. Your hard work and efforts will be noticed. And, if for some reason, the school doesn't notice, your accomplishments will add substantially to your resume.
While you are employed and doing some of the positive things mentioned above, you also need to have your safety net firmly in place. Your safety net is your network and your up to date resume It's very easy to let those two items slide. But don't allow that happen. A network is all about relationships. Relationships take time to develop and nurture. Your network
will only be as valuable as those relationships. Yes, it's work. But think of it as cheap insurance against the unthinkable. Some ways you can build your network are by attending conferences, blogging and commenting on your colleagues' blogs and participating in professional groups such as ISEN and ISED-L.
Disadvantages to be Unemployed
Their name is legion. Being unemployed is not where you want to be. But if that is the card you have been dealt, then you must make the best of it. Devote quality time to your networking activities such as the ones outlined previously. Your network will help get an interview and make you aware of openings. Your network can often give you the inside scoop about a position or the working conditions.
The main disadvantage to being unemployed is that so many other qualified professionals are also unemployed. The competition for the job you are looking for will be fierce. Turn that disadvantage of being unemployed into an advantage as best you can by interviewing better and generally presenting better than the competition.
Think outside the box. Perhaps you wouldn't ordinarily consider relocating or taking a job in a small school where you will have to wear many hats. Being unemployed will make you look at those situations in a totally different light.
The other huge disadvantage to being unemployed is the effect it can have on your ego. The best antidote to any hint of depression or discouragement is to keep telling yourself that you are a good person and never give up. Ever.
What you need to do
Regardless of whether you are employed or unemployed, make sure you take care of the following:
- Update your resume and keep it up to date.
- Create a curriculum vitae which can be as long and as detailed as it needs to be.
- Participate in all the professional online fora you can find. Facebook doesn't count.
- Attend and participate in regional and national workshops and conventions both in the private school field and your chosen subject field.
- Publish, perform and present. Make sure the right people know who you are.