You can send in a resume and use an agency to find a private school job. But the very best way to find a private school job is to use your network. You do have a network, don't you?
In truth, the private school job-hunting season never ceases. The main window of opportunity is from December through March. Not much happens on either side of those months unless a school has an unexpected vacancy. This is where your network comes in. Let's say you are considering finding a new position for the next school year. You should try to firm up that decision by the end of October or November so that you can begin your active job search.
The First Steps
Check the job boards in the areas you are thinking about moving to. Register with an agency that specializes in placing private school teachers. They will know about openings. That will get you thinking about the possibilities.
Know why you want to make a move. Are you making a lateral move, i.e., moving to another school to do the same thing as you have been doing? Or are you thinking about different responsibilities, such as being an administrator? It is very important for you to have your goals clearly understood. That will be invaluable during the interview process when the inevitable question "Why do you want to leave St. Swithin's and come teach at our school?" is asked.
This brief video offers three tips to advance your career by networking.
Use a mentor to help you think things through. You may think you have all the answers and everything worked out, but honestly, a trusted adviser will both affirm and clarify your thinking. Mentors, don't try to change your mind. A mentor observes and comments. It's those observations and comments that you will need in order to achieve your objective of finding a new position in another private school.
The Network Advantage
So, how do you really find a private school job? You do it by building a network of colleagues, friends, and families. Then you maintain that network and keep it in good repair. That's how you find the best jobs in any vertical or profession. Why? Because employers are flooded with hundreds of resumes every quarter. Online services and job boards yield a flood of applicants from everywhere in the world. The trick is to make your application stand out from all its competitors. That's where your network comes into play. An email or a phone call from you saying that you have somebody worth considering for that drama teacher position carries a lot of weight. The same is true when somebody who knows you calls a friend and says that you would be perfect for the position.
Most private schools are small enough that they will handle employment applications the old-fashioned way: manually. Most medium and large-sized businesses have software that scans resumes looking for keyword matches. We haven't gotten to that stage in 99% of our K-12 private schools. Your resume still has to supply all the skills and experience that the schools are looking for. The screening process is still a manual one for the most part. As a result, who you know, i.e., your network, matters.
No matter how wonderful your credentials are or your experience, you will stand a much better chance of securing a private school job by using your own personal and professional network. Who you know is more important than what you know. Having a friend put in a good word for your application should, at the very least, get you an interview.
Build your network
How do you build a network? Think about all the people you have met at conferences and elsewhere over the years. Former classmates, colleagues, employers, family advisers, professionals, clergy, etc.
- Do you keep in touch with them?
- Do you ask for help?
- Do you offer help?
- Do you have a mentor?
- Do you mentor others?
- Do you participate in professional communities?
- Are you active on LinkedIn?
- When did you last attend a private school teachers' conference?
- Do you blog?
- Are you published?
Use your network. It is infinitely easier to ruminate about future plans over coffee or after a game of squash than to push the panic button at the last minute trying to find a job. When your friends and colleagues know you and appreciate your talents, skills, and experience, they will help you. In the following video, the late Steve Jobs offers some rules for success in building a business network.
The national and regional mid-winter private school conclaves offer excellent opportunities to revitalize your network and teaching skills. Plan on attending the NAIS Annual Conference, which takes place in a major city in late February-early March. Don't be shy. Introduce yourself. Hand out your card. Yes, always have a business card. Be memorable. Be sincere. Follow up with the people you have met by sending a brief email saying how good it was to see them.
Participate in online private school communities such as ISED-L. Connect with other professionals on LinkedIn. Join online communities devoted to your subject. Don't lurk. Participate.
Use social media wherever and whenever you can to supplement your participation in professional communities. Just be careful to keep your personal and professional lives separate. What you post on TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube is almost impossible to erase. For many reasons, employers are savvy enough these days to look at social media as part of their review process.
The bottom line is that people in your network know you. They will be familiar with your accomplishments. They trust you and your judgment. They also know about vacancies and can alert you when an interesting position comes along. Your network will never be a finished project. It is always going to be dynamic. A work in progress. Make sure it is working to your advantage.
Job Boards and Web Sites
Don't forget to keep an eye on the job listings on this site. Individual schools post vacancies as well. The Klingenstein Center, CAPE, and the NAIS sites have excellent, up-to-date private school listings. Perhaps somebody in your network can help you get an interview for one of these advertised jobs. You will need that advantage because dozens of other highly qualified people will be after the same job. Your network is your edge.
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