If you haven't applied for a job - any job - in a couple of years, be aware of two things. First of all, you can do most job applications online. Secondly applying for a private school job similar to applying for a public school teaching job, although there are some subtle differences.
Review the job application process carefully. Don't assume that everything is the same as when you last applied for a job. It won't be. The biggest change is the online application process. Most employers including private schools will expect you to apply online these days. They do this so that they can screen applications. Years ago, an administrative assistant or secretary screened snail-mailed job applications. That involved opening envelopes and sorting the applications. Occasionally the assistant actually screened the applications, generally to ensure that all requested materials had been sent. At some point, the pile of applications and cover letters ended up on the desk of the person charged with filling the job opening. This process could take a couple of hours or even longer. That depended on the number of applications received.
Nowadays, the screening process can be done by the member of staff who is looking to fill the position. Viewing the online responses to an open position is very simple, fast and convenient. Furthermore, you can access the information anytime, anywhere on a smartphone or tablet.
Having drawn attention to all that, the basics of a job application have not changed. Job applications should say "Look at me! I have the qualifications and experience you need. I am excited by the opportunity which your institution is offering." In other words, your job application is a portrait of you at your very best. You radiate competence and confidence with a well-presented job application. So, take the time to review your answers and information before you click Submit. Poor syntax and typos will make you look bad. Whenever possible, make a screen print of your online application before you click Submit. HAve a trusted friend or family member review your application for clarity and correctness.
You need to be aware that applying for a private school job has some subtle differences from its public school counterpart. Here are five things you must do when applying for a private school teaching position.
1. Make sure that your credentials are impeccable.
You will probably get looked at for that English teaching position if your degree is in American Language and Literature from one of the top tier colleges such as Brown, Duke, Stanford or Cornell. If you earned a degree from Harvard, Yale or Princeton, go to the top of the list. A bachelor's degree is ok, but you better make the right noises during the interview about your plans to finish your master's degree within a year or two. Private schools truly prefer to say that most of their faculty have advanced degrees. If you have earned a terminal degree, that's cool too, as long as you are not terminal too. Understand that your credentials will be confirmed by the school. So, be very careful about listing a degree or certificate which you actually never earned. You may have taken the courses, but never completed all the requirements for the degree or certificate. Falsifying your credentials will be grounds for dismissal. Here is a look at one method of verifying credentials.
2. Offer glowing recommendations.
If one of your recommendations - and note that most schools will ask for 3-5 references - comes from somebody the headmaster knows personally, that will be a big plus. If you are an unknown entity, make sure that your recommendations are solid, unequivocally glowing ones. Your references must be able to speak warmly and without hesitation during the inevitable phone call which WILL be made to check you out.
3. Be able to coach prep school sports and lead an extracurricular activity.
Prep school sports have their little traditions and rituals. If you know these intimately, your resume will stand out from the crowd. It doesn't matter what the sport or club is which you can coach or lead, just be really good at it and enthusiastic about it. Offering sports such as hockey, lacrosse, field hockey and crew will vault you to the head of the list. Expertise in forensics or having produced a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta will win your application a speedy stamp of approval. Why is all this important? Well, for one thing, most private schools pride themselves on educating the whole child. Their programs combine academics with athletics and extracurricular activities to develop a well-rounded young person. Sports and extracurriculars are part of a private school teacher's duties and are spelled out in your employment contract.
4. Apply according to the school's explicit instructions.
Follow their application instructions to the letter. If for some reason known only to the headmaster, the school wants applications submitted on 3x5 cards, then so be it. In lieu of any precise instructions, submit a one-page cover letter of interest together with your resume which should not be more than 2 pages and must include 3 references. Supporting documents such as transcripts and certificates can be submitted at a later stage. Hopefully, the school will have an online process which will allow you to uploaded scanned copies of your credentials and other supporting documentation. Once again, follow the instructions to the letter. Don't hesitate to call the school if its instructions are not clear. Here is some general advice about applying for a job online.
5. Demonstrate your love of teaching.
Private schools are all about having excellent teachers. After all, parents are paying a small fortune to have their children taught by gifted teachers. Make sure that your love of teaching young people dominates any and all conversations with your future employer. In the end, it is really the only thing which matters.
Some final words of advice for a successful job application process: take your time. Make sure that you have been thorough, detailed and clear as you answer the questions and complete the various fields on the job application. Do not rush the process. Save your work before submitting it or printing it. Then review it later. You will be amazed at the typos and missing information which will have snuck by you.
Questions? Contact me via Twitter @privateschoolreview