Private School Employment Do's and Don'ts
It's a tough job market out there. Observe these Do's and Donts to keep yourself ahead of the competition.
It's a very competitive job market. The economy has forced schools public and private on every level to cut their teaching staffs. As a result, when you begin to look for a job as a teacher or administrator in a private school, you will face serious competition from other private school teachers, public teachers, business people and even graduate students who cannot find a college teaching job. Observe these Do's and Don'ts to keep yourself ahead of the competition and land the private school job of your dreams.
DO: Use your network.
Arguably the best way to find a job in a private school is by using your network. These are friends and colleagues who know you, indeed have known you for years, and can talk enthusiatically about you and your skills as a teacher or administrator. Networking is all about meeting people and staying in touch with them. How do you do that? Use all the social and professional networking tools out there. They cost little but reap huge rewards. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs allow you to exchange ideas and comments as well as see what's going on. Professional sites give you an opportunity to become known in the private school community.
DON'T: Use weak references.
When you submit your job application, you will be asked to include 3-5 references. These people will be called if you make the short list. You must make sure that your references include former employers and supervisors who will speak positively, frankly and in detail about you and your work while employed at their school. If one of your references happens to work at the school, that's even better. Avoid weak references at all costs. In fact you will be better off not to include them.
DO: Talk about your passion for teaching.
Your job application will be reviewed for many things. Besides all the usual personal data and information like degrees and previous experience the people who review your application and the interviewers will be focusing on one very important aspect of your qualifications: your passion for teaching. This is no time to be laid back and laconic. You may know how to solve the Fermat Theorem, but unless you can explain it in an engaging, exciting way to 15 year olds, what good is all that expertise in a private school setting? Your job is to light the fires of learning in young people in an age where instant gratification is an accepted commodity. Make sure you think about exactly what it is that you love about teaching. Be able to articulate it and show it.
DON'T: Fake any credentials.
You may have taken a course at Yale. But do not say you graduated from Yale unless you can provide a certified transcript stating that fact. Employers have been caught short too many times by staff who have faked credentials. Any employer worth his salt will demand to see certified transcripts of all your academic work.
DO: Write a perfect cover letter.
The cover letter seems like such a simple thing. It is and it isn't. Learn how to write one. It is often the first thing your future employer sees of you. Make sure that what she sees makes a good impression. Make certain that your cover letter is perfect.
DON'T: Wait until the last minute to find a job.
Most private schools like to have their hiring for the next academic year done by the end of February or middle of March. The NAIS convention takes place mid-winter. You must be there for interviews and meetings unless you are applying locally. That means that you need to begin your job search process well in advance. Make sure your resume is current and get things underway by the end of the spring term.
DO: Dress appropriately for your interview.
Like the cover letter your interview attire conveys an impression. Make it the best impression possible. Do some research and arrive for your interview looking as though you are already part of your new employer's staff.
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