How to "overcome" a resume

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by teacherperson123, Jul 8, 2018.

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  1. teacherperson123

    teacherperson123 Rookie

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    Hi there, I'm new here

    If there's any advice anyone has, I'd appreciate it. I'm currently out of work for the first time in 4 years, and am having a hard time finding a job. I was warned by the department chair at my last job, as well as other people in our profession this may happen b/c of my resume being "intimidating" to many schools, or seen as not a good fit for most schools and limiting the number of interviews I now get in comparison to when I was a new teacher. If anyone has any tips on how best to work with this I'd appreciate it. So here's where I stand:
    -4 years service credit, some may count a 5th depending on rules
    -CA Clear Social Science credential
    -Phd Political Science
    -Fluent English, Mandarin, and Spanish

    -1st job-Taught economics for 1 year at a high school in an agricultural area in CA, nearly all socioeconomically disadvantaged migrant farm workers children, 99% Hispanic. Students still struggled with ELA, but were great, hard working kids. I moved on b/c I was not interested in living long term in a rural area of CA.

    -2nd job-Taught Mandarin I/II/II and Global Studies for 2 years at an extremely, obscenely wealthy suburb outside LA at which a large number of students and families are A-list celebs, athletes, etc (Lebron level). It is also a very high academically achieving school with excellent funding. I was also the Model UN Coach, Speech and Debate Coach. The school is known very well and the name immediately is recognizable to schools all over the state, but in potentially a "oh, this person taught a bunch of rich superficial celebrities kids" way, and my coaching responsibilities as well as teaching Mandarin may be "intimidating" to more run of the mill schools, I worry, and have been told could happen. The school couldn't support a tenured Chinese position and Social Science classes were being cut, so couldn't be offered tenure. I'm not actually licensed to teach Mandarin, just a skill I picked up later in life and can do if a school needs it. I could never pass the CSET, though.

    -3rd job-moved to San Francisco last August, taught this past year at a very large school that is ranked as one of the very top performing public schools in the entire country, is instantly recognizable on a resume by every single school in California, and is also very famous bc it has been around for a long, long, long time. Nearly every student I taught this year is going to a UC, at minimum, this fall. It was basically like teaching at a high school version of UC-Berkeley, for the most apt comparison. Due to "consolidation" in the district at the end of the year (layoffs), those candidates were allowed to request a transfer and I ended up LIFO.

    So...now that I've built up a resume and have great letters of rec, references, and experience I've barely gotten any interviews at all for this coming year. On my last day at the school I was laid off from a month ago, my department chair and I sat down and I told her I was barely getting called for interviews and I was worried that having spent 3 of my 4 years teaching at the last two schools combined with my academic coaching and the fact I also taught Mandarin was going to scare schools away from me. She said she was inclined to agree. The two interviews I have had for next year have both been at schools on that same kind of academic level, which is fine, but I worry that my prior experience is now limiting my potential for employment at a wider range of schools, like typecasting for teachers. Which, I'm sure, does happen in our profession like many others.

    Anyone have any ideas on ways to alter or word my resume that will accentuate my experience without scaring off potential employers because of where I've previously taught the past 3 years? Both schools are places people tend to respond "you taught THERE?? what was that like???" Also, if anyone has any thoughts on whether my pay could also affect things would be helpful, too. I wouldn't sweat anything except for the fact when I was new/post 1st year teacher I got dozens of interviews at a wide variety of schools. Now, it seems it has narrowed to a very specific type. Help! Should I just eliminate specific things on my resume when applying to schools I think might not be interested? Help!
     
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  3. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    First of all, welcome to a-z. I'm responding to your post because I can relate to your situation on several levels. As a native San Franciscan, I can probably guess which schools you've taught at. Although I was never a cardinal, both my father and sister attended that school. Like you, I racked up an impressive list of professional accomplishments and earned a doctorate, all of which I learned to selectively omit on my resume depending on where I was applying. IMO, it's all about tailoring your resume (in your case, I would suggest a curriculum vitae to showcase your accomplishments) to fit the position in question. You must decide whether to a) provide a lite version of your CV or b) provide a comprehensive one. I agree with others who warned you that your resume may be intimidating to many schools - namely those that may have few or no staff with advanced degrees.

    I concur that your previous positions would likely scare off potential employers who are easily intimidated by those with less impressive academic and employment backgrounds. Therefore, one option would be for you to target schools that would not hesitate to hire someone of your caliber. High-end prep schools and some public high schools in wealthy communities are the first ones that come to mind (e.g. Hillsborough, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Atherton). I also know that many international schools would not find your stellar CV to be a intimidating. If you're single you might consider teaching at a high-performing overseas school where they would definitely value your multi-lingual abilities and extracurricular activities. Click here for info about international schools recruitment fairs. Here is another link to a recruitment firm with worldwide offices. With so much emphasis on the "right fit" these days, you would do well to focus on a high-end niche - with a commensurate high-end salary, benefits (insurance and housing often provided) and many perks (like incredible travel opportunities). Take full advantage of your hard-earned accomplishments! Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
  4. teacherperson123

    teacherperson123 Rookie

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    Hi, thanks for your response! You are correct about the school I was referring to in SF. Since you're from here and know all of these schools , I'd say you probably understand my current situation better than others. Teaching at "that school" and the other in LA pretty much seems to eliminate most schools from being interested in interviewing me. Other educators can say "Pittsburg, Antioch, Vallejo, and Oakland are looking, apply there!" but the reality is those areas simply don't offer interviews to people who have taught at super high-achieving schools that are well-funded for the majority of their career, at least most of the time they don't.
    The areas you mentioned are the ones that have offered me interviews in the past, prior to teaching at the rich school outside LA. I interviewed 4 years ago with Mountain View High, Menlo-Atherton, Los Gatos, and Palo Alto but didn't get an offer from any of them. This summer, both interviews have been in San Mateo/Hillsborough area. I applied for a few of the private schools but didn't get an interview anywhere. I'd love to teach overseas, and have been wanting to attend the international school recruitment fair in SF for years, but never could afford to come up here for it in the past or I've been employed, already. I definitely plan on attending the one in February, as long as I'm still here.
    This whole process has been really disheartening, because of the fact I built up such an "impressive" resume in such a short period, and now seemingly I can't just get "whatever I can get" because the lower achieving schools won't touch me. I'm also really worried about potentially going to work as a substitute. I subbed for a year prior to going into a credential program and many teachers acted very threatened after hearing about me from their students. Some would outright try not to have me sub for Social Science The whole "subbing as a foot in the door" to then possibly get hired later always seemed like a lie to me. I can't imagine 5 years later schools/teachers feeling comfortable with a "substitute" whose resume and experience probably far exceed the people I'd be subbing for. I feel like if I was subbing and the regular teachers found out the "sub" was a teacher at "that school" in SF and the other one in LA, as well as my other stuff, they aren't going to want me around.
     
  5. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Jul 9, 2018

    With few exceptions, it would probably just be a waste of your time to apply to those areas.
    As you know, the vetting process for staff at elite schools is extremely thorough, resulting in only top-notch people being hired. It's often not just how well you interviewed, but interpersonal connections that often make the difference. For example, if I were interviewing at Paly High, I would definitely mention that my mother and several cousins are alumni and that one cousin was even voted school president, my grandfather owned a restaurant on University Ave. in the 30s and that I would spend every summer in Palo Alto while growing up, etc. (see below for more suggestions)
    I had always dreamed of teaching overseas, but never made the plunge. If that's your goal and you can afford it, forget about everything else and just focus on the upcoming recruitment fair. I would highly recommend sending introductory letters NOW to every head administrator (they have different titles) at international schools where you would like to teach. Let them hear your enthusiasm and passion and be sure to tell them of your plans to attend the job fair in February and availability to meet with them at that time. You can always send a followup note just before the event as a polite reminder. Remember, think outside the box.
    Having experienced the discriminatory behavior that you describe, from both teachers and administrators for most of my career, I can empathize with everything you've said here. The only reason I was hired by my last district was that I reduced my three-page CV to a simple one-page resume with all potentially threatening accomplishments omitted.
    ________________________

    If I were an administrator at a low-performing school with an open position for which you were qualified, I would snatch you up in a heartbeat! However, with the extremely stiff competition that exists at high-end schools (including international schools) you can possibly increase your chances by thinking outside the box. Perhaps you might consider what worked for me. Even though it was in pursuit of an administrative position, the underlying strategy may still be applicable - you decide.

    So, after I worked a year as an AP in a rural district - thanks to the impetus provided by an impressive list of accomplishments in your former district - I successfully landed my first principalship in an exclusive Menlo-Atherton school. I hate completing application packets so it was the only opening I applied for. Surprisingly, I was selected from a field of over 200 well-qualified applicants! During the prior year, I had attended a special symposium at Stanford and took the time to pop in to visit the organizer of the event for the sole purpose of learning more about her innovative program at the university in preparation for my upcoming interview. Little did I know that less than a year later, that same person would play a key role in my being hired - she was one of the members of the selection committee! Perhaps less important, was the fact that a part-time employee at the school was a former classmate of mine in a doctoral program. Since I was still somewhat of a novice, I'm convinced that it was my acquaintances with these two individuals and their unsolicited positive recommendations that got me hired.

    My advice is to leave no stone unturned. By all means, do exactly the opposite of what others may thumb their noses at - this has always been my secret weapon! For example, I found it helpful to chat with the superintendent's secretary just before the interview to find out who I would be meeting in the interview room - she even provided me with a brief description of who they were and how I would recognize them - it pays to know your audience. Find out everything you can about any partnership a school or district is involved in (with local businesses, university, etc.) and if possible make direct contact with their partners to acquire background background info - including their recommendations for improvement! I visited a realty office just to ask about housing prices in the same rural community I referred to above - of course, I also took the opportunity to ask about his views of the school district. Later in the interview, the superintendent revealed his awareness of my brief encounter with one of his good friends! I would also arrange to meet with the president of the board of trustees, to: a) introduce yourself, b) learn about his/her personal views re: areas of growth for the district. Finally, if you were to meet with the president of the PTA or equivalent, you would most likely gain even more golden nuggets that may be just enough to tip the scales in your favor!
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  6. teacherperson123

    teacherperson123 Rookie

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    Thanks! You are actually touching A LOT on what I have perceived to be the other huge hurdle I have been facing: I am not from here. Not even remotely close. I am originally from a state in the south and have lived in SoCal the past 20 years. I have no family here, no colleagues from prior schools in SoCal to put in a good word bc they dont know people up here, no connections, no network, and did not grow up anywhere around here. I felt that was what held me back when I first got a credential, as well. I kept getting interview after interview at places like Santa Monica High, Palisades, Laguna Beach, the places I listed up here, all great schools, but would never get the job because there's always the well-qualified local or the kid straight out of a credential program who went to school there. The job at the school in SF I was told by the dept chair I was actually the most qualified applicant and no one else had an "in" already. The job in the rich area of LA was bc they were desperate for a Chinese teacher and couldn't find anyone else to do it. Every social science teacher who had been hired within the past couple years at that school were locals who grew up right around there. I've always felt that the fact other people are locals is a gigantic obstacle to overcome. Every school I've had any time subbing or working full time, at least 1/3 to 1/2 the teachers grew up in that area, and often went to that very school and seem to get massive preferential treatment when it comes to hiring, as well as who gets the tenure track positions, to the point of being blatantly obvious at times. I once had a school where I already knew many of the teachers interview me to teach a straight schedule of AP Govt and they hired someone straight out of a BA/credential program who was 21 yrs old with no experience and no academic background in the subject matter...because she had gone to the same church as the P since she was a toddler.

    I appreciate the advice, bc this is one area that I have a very hard time figuring out how to overcome when I'm almost exclusively having to rely on merit to try to land a job.
     
  7. Been There

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    I'm glad to finally connect with someone with similar experiences and perspectives. I've always believed that our failing education system does not place enough emphasis on merit to the point where most educators have a fit over the mere thought of merit pay. That's one more reason I think your best bet is to apply overseas - just visit any international school's website for some extra motivation. Feel free to email me with any specific questions or concerns: intellintervention@gmail.com
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I dunno...

    I'm not familiar with the geographic area you're referencing or schools that are super high-performing, so my thoughts may be irrelevant. With that having been said....

    My district, which is quite large, would not view your experience teaching Mandarin as intimidating. It's one of several foreign languages commonly offered across the district, so anyone who could teach it would score some extra points. You're not certified, though, so it wouldn't be terribly beneficial to you unless you were looking for a long-term sub position. I'm a little unclear about one thing, though: you say you're fluent but could never pass the CSET? What's that about?

    Although your reasons for leaving those schools sound reasonable, it may raise some eyebrows that you've had three jobs in four years. It may be less about how great the schools are and more about why you couldn't/didn't hack it. Since your resume probably doesn't explain why you left, the ones looking at it may only focus on the frequent job changes, which almost never looks good and may explain why you aren't getting calls.

    Are you looking at districts that have a lot of openings? Mine, for example, has literally hundreds of openings right now, perhaps thousands. If a person is qualified and can pass a background check, he will almost certainly be offered a job. Not all districts are like that, though, as I'm sure you know. If you're applying for jobs where 400 other people are also applying, there may not be much you can do to beef up your resume other than look elsewhere or start making friends with important people.
     
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  9. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    As someone who works in your most recent district, I don't think either the lack of an "in" or your placement on the pay scale is the problem. We regularly hire teachers from other districts, career changers, people with advanced degrees and/or degrees from "prestigious" schools. There are two things that may be problematic. First, we require a BCLAD before interviewing someone for a position where fluency in a second language is required, so your fluency in Spanish and Mandarin doesn't really help your application. Our school has an immersion strand, no one would be interviewed who didn't have the proper endorsement. Secondly, classroom management at Lowell is simply very different from almost every other school in the district. Having that school on your resume is not going to make a principal feel confident that you will be able to manage behavior at their school. if your cover letter can focus on your experience in the Central Valley, that might help convince a hiring committee that you are up to the challenge.
     
  10. teacherperson123

    teacherperson123 Rookie

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    My resume actually does specify why I left each school, and my P at the school I taught Chinese made it a point in her letter of rec to state that the school cut Social Science requirements to 3 from 3.5 years and that she would have retained me for Social Science if she could, since she couldn't offer me tenure to teach Chinese without a license. As far as my fluency, if you've never studies the language, it's kinda hard to get, but there's a big difference in Mandarin between "fluent" and native fluent. It works the same in many languages, but Mandarin it is very pronounced. I studied levels 1-5 and then have worked with a tutor the past couple years. I maaaaaybe could pass the language parts, but because I never majored in Chinese I'd be lost on the literature, poetry, etc. Also, in CA you now have to take a methodology class in LOTE in order to get foreign language credential if you dont already have one in another language, which costs a lot of $ to register for bc it can only be done through a university extension course.
    I've actually felt that taking the job teaching 1/2 Chinese 1/2 Social Science may have ended up having a detrimental effect on my career, since I'm not licensed. I worry schools think I'm actually a Chinese teacher, when my clear credential is in Social Science.

    I actually brought up your point about teaching at 3 schools in 4 years to my dept chair on my last day and told her that I worried that after moving all the way here from SoCal for a job at such a great school, only to be LIFO would end up looking like I was getting bounced, when the reality is what it is. She wrote me a letter of rec saying she couldn't keep me bc of LIFO. Now, does anybody read that stuff? who knows? But theres nothing more I can do than have my references write letters explaining it. It aint my fault nobody has hired me for a job with a future.

    I'm not sure where you live, I'm guessing like Nevada or LAUSD. Not too sound like a terrible person/ teacher, but I would never teach outside of CA and at least try to avoid LAUSD if possible. My pay would be cut by over 40g/year to save like 10g on rent outside CA. Here, I get 3-4g step increases each year, have collective bargaining, etc. Teaching is a good profession here. At least IMO.
     
  11. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    You’re right: three jobs in four years raises a red flag for whoever screens the apps! His/her packet may be placed in the no pile, unfortunately.

    The fact that s/he could never pass the CSETs also made me raise an eyebrow. S/he clearly isn’t fluent.
     
  12. teacherperson123

    teacherperson123 Rookie

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    Jul 9, 2018

     
  13. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Why would a school allow you to teach Chinese if you’re not highly qualified to teach the subject? Highly qualified = passing of all CSETs.
     
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  14. teacherperson123

    teacherperson123 Rookie

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    I taught Mandarin I/II/III for two years and could easily do level 4. AP woulld be a stretch. I am a white guy from the south. I will never be "fluent". It was kind of understood from the moment I started at the school I was a two year fill in until they could find a licensed teacher. I did my best and received rave reviews, considering I didn't even begin learning the language until 4 years ago. That's right. I started teaching it two years into studying it, so forgive me if I get a little defensive. It's a talent that I've never seen ANYONE pick up at 34 years old and start teaching less than two years later, and it's a skill I take seriously. Am I Xi JinPing? Absolutely not.
     
  15. teacherperson123

    teacherperson123 Rookie

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    I have a license in another subject. By state law, it is allowable. Wanna know why, investigator? Because in the 4 months they left the job posting up for a part-time Chinese teacher, they received one application: mine. They couldn't even find anyone to do it, so they interviewed me, asked if they could call my Chinese professor to ask her if she thought I could pull it off. She told them I could do it, so they hired me. Unfortunately, they also cut Social Science grad requirements to 3 years from 3.5 which meant 12 sections of classes were cut, so two social science teachers were cut in addition to me, so they couldnt keep me for that, either.
     
  16. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I surmise they gave you an emergency credential to teach the subject. Have you read this document from the CTC? I am a school administrator and deal with this (teachers teaching outside of their credentialed area) all the time.

    Your response was very snarky. Your attitude could be a roadblock in your job search, unfortunately. Good luck.
     
  17. teacherperson123

    teacherperson123 Rookie

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    You're kind of verifying my thoughts. I didn't get the impression SFUSD worked that way too much with "ins" and stuff, or that higher pay was a concern. They hired me from all the way in LA based pretty much off merit. But like you said, I was told only Washington and SOTA or Lincoln would maybe be interested in me in SFUSD after teaching at Lowell, b/c of the gigantic achievement and behavior gap people would see teaching at Lowell as a negative. Not my fault the first school in SFUSD to hire me was Lowell. As soon as I was told consolidation was happening everyone told me teachers would descend on my position like sharks from the other schools, which is exactly what happened.
    I only taught in the central valley for one year and it was five years ago, now. I've kind of felt that bc it was so short and my first job that it kind of gets lost in the mix that at one point I did teach at a very socioeconomically challenging school.
     
  18. teacherperson123

    teacherperson123 Rookie

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    what do you expect? you're acting like some kind of investigator.

    yeah...they didn't, lol. I never asked any questions, either. I never even had an emergency waiver for Chinese or anything listed on the CTC site and nothing in my personnel file! The whole time I was there I wondered how they were legally letting me do it without even applying for a waiver. AFAIK it was like as long as Chinese never exceeded 50% of my schedule, no waiver was required, but again I never asked. It was a job teaching both Chinese and Social Science, which I NEVER thought I'd get the chance to do. Getting the chance to teach Mandarin was a major coup for me, considering the circumstances.
     
  19. Been There

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    Everyone has brought up some good points. It's always difficult to provide useful advice without having all the facts - I still stand behind my previous suggestions, but with the addition of a few caveats. What teaching positions have you been applying for? With your somewhat limited experience and having only a social science credential, you should just focus on positions for which you are fully qualified. One of the reasons I considered leaving your former district as a young teacher was that they kept me as a longterm sub as long as possible just to save money - this was a common practice at the time. I had to find a way to sell myself based on the fact that I was bounced from school to school every year. The involuntary annual assignments enabled me to teach a wide range of grades in different settings and to become familiar with the VIPs in the district (worked at the D.O. too). I'm beginning to think that in your case, networking may be your best bet for landing a job in your subject area. Keep in touch with your former principals.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
  20. teacherperson123

    teacherperson123 Rookie

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    Yeah, I still apply for the random Chinese positions that pop-up that are part-time, as a "just in case", but no, I am definitely a Social Science teacher and those are the jobs I apply for. I know no school could ever hire me for full time Chinese, and it's not something I would want to do full-time, as much as I do like teaching it. However, I have noticed in the few interviews I've had the past two years, I'm asked about it in every single interview. Like, they're confused on what the deal is b/c I don't "look like" a chinese teacher nor do I have a license, but it's what I did for two years. And now, as mentioned previously, it makes it nearly impossible to get lower performing schools where behavior may be an issue, as well, to even sniff me. I can't help the fact my resume is what it is. I taught in Malibu, Beverly Hills, and now Lowell and figured that having taught these places would limit my options. Oh well, appreciate the advice! Thanks!
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Okay but you literally said that you were fluent in your original post.
     
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