If you are looking for a teaching job, then you probably understand how tough the employment situation is. Because of significant budget cuts in the public school sector, tens of thousands of qualified, experienced teachers are looking for employment. Add to that very sizable candidate pool all the newly-minted teachers graduating from our nation's 670 accredited schools of education. You can readily see how competitive the market is. Naturally, some areas of the country are more severely impacted than others. Within those areas, there will be a few school districts in a few communities that can hold their own. The issue with public school funding has much to do with the fact that a substantial portion of a school district's budget comes from local property taxes. School districts in affluent communities usually will fare better than districts with a decreasing tax base.
While this oversupply of experienced, qualified teachers is an advantage for private schools because it increases the applicant pool, this situation makes it much more competitive for those who want to secure a private school teaching job. Finding employment in a private school works differently than finding employment in the public sector. I suggest that you review my Job Search Resources to understand the mechanics of finding private school employment. I have covered the subject from every angle I could think of. I also spent 17 years in the corporate environment where one of my responsibilities was interviewing and hiring. It is critically important for any applicant to understand what an employer is looking for. Match your skills and experience with what a school is looking for and you will stand a much better chance of being interviewed and hopefully being hired. Do a few dry runs if you haven't interviewed in a few years. Same thing with your resume. Polish it up. Lean on a trusted mentor for help and advice.
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. If you have a job, stay put unless you are 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 of Being Employed
Unless the school you work at is in financial trouble, stay put. Don't let minor disagreements or annoyances mushroom into a deal-breaking situation where the school will decide not to 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 at that festival. Those positive actions prove 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. This TedTalk will inspire you.
While you are employed and doing some of the positive things mentioned above, you must also 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 to 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. You can build your network by attending conferences, blogging and commenting on your colleagues' blogs, and participating in professional groups such as ISED-L. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. Join the education groups on LinkedIn. Keep your technology skills current. Using whiteboards, tablets, smartphones, and all the other new technologies effectively in your classroom is a given these days for all education professionals.
Disadvantages of Being 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.
In this video, Cari explains what it is like to be an unemployed teacher.
The main disadvantage of being unemployed is that many other qualified professionals are 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 working in a small school where you must 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 that 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 in the private school and your chosen subject field.
- Publish, perform and present. Make sure the right people know who you are.
- Keep your skills up to date.
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