Job Search: Matching Your Qualifications

Updated May 26, 2016 |
Job Search: Matching Your Qualifications
Matching your qualifications with what the school is looking for is one of the most important parts of the job process. Get it wrong and you might miss getting an interview.

Finding a private high school teaching position is similar to finding any other job with specific requirements for experience and education. The difference lies in the fact that most private schools will expect you to be an active member of their school community. Put another way it is not enough simply to teach your subject and go home. You will be expected to be a leader in the school community. Your willingness to be involved in an extracurricular activity and an athletic activity is a job requirement for private school teachers.

It sounds simple enough, but one of the most important things you must do when looking for a teaching job is to make sure your qualifications match the requirements of the position being offered. If you don't make that crystal clear in your resume and cover letter, you might not even make the first cut when your application is opened and reviewed.

Let's look at a typical job posting and review how it should be handled. This is a real job posting. The name of the school has been changed to protect its identity. 

Upper School Mathematics Teacher beginning Fall 2016

Job Responsibilities

St Swithins seeks an energetic and committed Mathematics teacher for grades 9 - 12 to teach a range of courses in a comprehensive curriculum offering Algebra I through Calculus. This is a full-time, benefited faculty position.

Qualities of a successful candidate will include:

* Ability to inspire students' love of learning
* Enthusiasm for professional growth and academic excellence
* Passion for Mathematics
* Commitment to students with all learning styles
* A commitment to participate broadly in school life
* Experience applying technology in an educational setting

A Master's degree or Virginia teaching certification is preferred.

Academic Qualifications

OK, so let's review the job advertisement above.  We will begin with your degree. Do you have a master's degree? If you do, it should be in the subject the school is advertising for, i.e., mathematics, not classics. But as long as your first degree is in honors mathematics, the master's degree proves that you have done graduate work. Private schools like to see that. Now if you happen to have additional subject qualifications, for example, in the aforementioned classics, include that as a secondary qualification. Competence in more than one subject will help your application stand out from other applications. Professor Michelle Richards-Babb of West Virginia University offers some valuable tips on strengthen the presentation of your academic qualifications.

Do you have a teacher's certificate from any U.S. state? If you do and it's from Virginia, that's a plus. Not having a teaching certificate probably won't keep you from getting the job, all things being equal, but understand that you will have to get the certificate as soon as possible. The school will most likely make that a condition of hire. The important thing to understand if you do not have teaching certification is that you must find out the school's preferred route to earning that certification.

Math Teaching Experience

Let's get granular with the position's subject requirements. Have you taught all the required math courses at AP level? This position needs an experienced teacher who knows how to achieve success in the difference math disciplines. The school's reputation will be riding on your success or lack of it. Be able to demonstrate that you have solid achievements in teaching a comprehensive high school math curriculum. Some private schools follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum. Unless that is advertised as such, assume that you will be teaching AP courses.

High School Teaching Experience

Now let's look at your teaching experience. Have you taught in a high school? If you are coming from a college teaching background or from business, you need to understand that you must inspire your students. High school students are not generally as mature as college students. They may think that they are but in most cases they are not. They need the inspiration, encouragement and professional guidance which you can give. 

On the other hand, private school students go to private school because they and their parents have made a commitment to learning. You will find that the partnership of you, the school and the student will make teaching very satisfying as it always is when everybody is on the same page.

Attitude

Next, let's discuss attitude. Are you set in your ways and unwilling to change how you teach your subject? Or do you constantly seek out new ways of doing things? Moving with the times and learning new tricks are characteristics which you must take care to list and point out in your resume. Private schools have integrated technology in the classroom for many years now. It is a prerequisite for most teaching positions. Be in the vanguard of using new technologies to both present and enrich your lessons. The possibilities are endless. The following short video is one of many helpful videos which Carney Sandoe offers on its YouTube channel.

Passion for Your Subject

Do you live, breath and constantly think about math? Not just in your own intellectual way, but in ways which will help young people be inspired and as passionate about math as you are? The fact that you can show young people that math is fun and exciting needs to be front and center in your resume.

Different Learning Styles

Children learn in many different ways. Being flexible and patient enough to circle back and help a student who doesn't understand quadratic equations is critical. This school will ask about that characteristic during your interview. But it will look for evidence of your embracing this important qualification when it reviews your application materials.

Social Habits

If you can't wait to leave the classroom and repair to your apartment and your books, you probably won't fit in at this school or most private schools for that matter. But if you can blend your personal time with time well-spent in the school community coaching a team or supervising an extracurricular activity, you will be looked upon favorably as a leader and contributor to the well-being and life of the school community. The person who reads your application will be excited to learn that you are writing a book on lambda calculus at the same time as you are describing how much you love producing Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. These are attributes which can set you apart from the other candidates for the position.

Facility with Technology

Are you adept at using a whiteboard and a tablet and all the software which go with those tools? Do you Moodle? Blog? Use Twitter? If you aren't and don't, you better get with the program fast. That's where teaching is these days. It's virtually electronic. (Pun intended.) Betsy Weigle explains how to use whiteboards in your classroom.

Matching your qualifications to the job being offered is one of the most important parts of finding a new job. Make sure that the match is as ideal as you can possibly make it.

Questions? You can contact me on Twitter. @privateschl


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