Advice on Landing a First-Year Teaching Job? Is It Even Possible?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by faye-wray, Jan 10, 2016.

  1. faye-wray

    faye-wray Rookie

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    Jan 10, 2016

    I graduated from college last May. I went to a good, respected teaching college in my state, did very well (graduated cum laude with a 3.69 cumulative GPA), and while I wouldn't call my student teaching an extraordinary performance, I still did well and I left on good terms with my CT (half a year after I finished ST with her, she gave a district a good reference check for a sub position when they called her about me).

    I probably applied to about 30-40 different districts last year, but only got 2 interviews. One district I thought I did very well (actually, I know I did...the principal had a rubric in front of her that she was using to rate me and I could see that I got top marks on almost everything), but I never heard from them again after (no response even when I called and e-mailed in an attempt follow up). Another district, I made it to the last round of interviews, but they went with someone else.

    I started subbing for my local high school (which I also graduated from) and after only 6 months of being there, I've become fairly well-liked. One English teacher (English is my content area as well) even took the time to write to me, the principal's secretary, and the principal about how well I did when she had to take an absence for a few days to take care of her mother (and she also requested me to be her sub whenever possible) and the principal's secretary has told me multiple times how lucky they are to have me there. And then, I also just started subbing for another local school district this month. Only thing is, it doesn't look like either of these districts will be hiring an English/ELA teacher any time soon and that's what I'm certified for (and both districts know I'm certified and would take an actual teaching position with them in a heartbeat).

    Truth be told I actually don't mind subbing. The districts I sub at are nice and give us really good support and while I'm not a fan of the inconsistency, it's giving me a lot of good and interesting experiences (and I've learned to think faster on my feet than I ever thought possible...because when you have 26 fourteen-year-olds who can't work on the research project the teacher left them because the school's entire internet system is down, you better find something relevant to do otherwise it'll be mutiny). Still, it's not like having your own classroom and even working almost every day, it's not enough money to be able to support myself and I don't want to leech off my parents for forever.

    English wasn't the best, most in-demand content area to go into (my mother begged me to go for math or science, but I hate math and science and I honestly don't believe you can teach a content area that you absolutely loathe...you can teach a book you hate if you had to, a unit you hate if you had to, etc....but teaching an entire content area you hate for years until you retire? Yikes!) and the area I live in isn't the greatest the teaching jobs right now (I live in the most Northeastern part of Illinois), c'mon!

    Last year, I didn't cast a very wide net when seeking jobs. I think the farthest I applied from my hometown was maybe about 2 hours west. This year, I am definitely willing to relocate as long as it's an area that I can actually afford to support myself on a beginning teacher's salary (I am single and any family/support I have is where I already live). I plan on applying all over my state and maybe even trying some out-of-state.

    Although, I've been told that unless you have that state's certification, you shouldn't even bother applying (i.e. if you want to apply to districts in Iowa, you should have the Iowa certification already instead of only having what state you're already living in). Except, I really don't want to transfer my license until I have a job offer, otherwise that can become very, very costly and time-consuming (and I've heard that school districts can also help you with this process). And, if I'm being honest, looking at all the different out-of-state certification processes is just giving me a headache and making me even more nervous (and even a little nauseous).

    I know that many people spend some time subbing before they get that first teaching job, and I know it's way too early to throw in the towel. I'm still young (22), somewhat fresh out of college, but it's so discouraging when you barely get any interviews and when you meet other people who have been looking for teaching jobs much longer than you have (I've met people who haven't been able to find one in 6+ years after graduating college). I'm willing to sub for maybe another year or two if need be, but I'm already considering what other professions I can return to school for in a reasonable amount of time because I'm always being told either, "Hang in there! It's hard for everybody!" or, "Get out now! There's no jobs, especially in English!"

    Anyway, I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice to landing that first teaching job. Are there maybe certain states/areas that are in need of teachers and would hire out of state? How did you manage to land that first teaching job?
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 10, 2016

    I'd suggests posting your cover and letter here for tweaking. Now that you have experience, you want to reflect that in your application packages in the best way to 'sell yorself'.

    Then apply to EVERY school- public, private, parochial, charter- that you can reasonably commute/relocate to.

    Read the interview threads here on the forums to brush up on current questions/thinking.

    Good luck to you!
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jan 10, 2016

    My number one suggestion is always relocating. It's how I got my first job. I think it's great that you're willing to do that; to be successful, you're going to have to put in a lot of effort to relocating. Although it stinks to go through the hassle and financial strain of getting another state's teaching license, it really does make all the difference. My advice to you would be to pick two or three places you'd like to move, work on getting licensed in those places, and start applying.

    Incidentally, I know that a very large district in southern Nevada recently approved a new contract bumping the minimum new teacher salary to $40k per year. Many other states pay new teachers a lot more, but in my opinion $40k isn't half bad for a new teacher. This district currently has hundreds of openings. You can find more information here: http://ccsd.net/employees/prospective/

    Feel free to PM me.
     
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  5. faye-wray

    faye-wray Rookie

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    This is my generic cover-letter (I usually tweak it if I can for each school district). I took out the names of my university and school districts in a small attempt to preserve anonymity:

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    It is with great pleasure that I am seeking a position as an English Language Arts within your district.

    I have graduated from *insert university*, cum laude, in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary English Education and have subsequently received a Professional Educator’s License with a Senior High English Language Arts endorsement and a Middle School English Language Arts Endorsement.

    I have worked with students of various age levels in both literature and composition. I have worked with elementary and middle school students on Response to Intervention in reading, I have worked with high school ESL students in composition, I have assisted with the teaching of American Literature and British Literature in high school classrooms, and I have also completed a practicum in composition at my university where I assisted in the teaching of College Writing, a supplemental writing class for Freshman students at my university, where I also tutored students in composition.

    I completed my student teaching in a 7th grade classroom at *insert school district*, where I taught English Language Arts and Advanced English Language Arts for sixteen weeks. In my student teaching, I have implemented a narrative writing unit where students had the opportunity to explore a variety of writing techniques, and developed and improved their writing skills. During my student teaching experience, I have used differentiated instruction, cooperative group work, individual work, and whole class discussion to optimize student learning.

    I currently am a substitute list *insert school district*. I maintain classroom instruction, management, and other duties in the absence of the regular classroom teacher or paraprofessional. I have also assisted in completing important clerical duties within the school as well. I also am employed as a substitute for *insert school district*, where I maintain instruction, classroom management, and other duties in the absence of the regular classroom teacher or paraprofessional.

    In my teaching, I strive to help each and every single student reach their full potential. I work extensively to provide differentiated instruction, where students receive the opportunity to work in different contexts such as in cooperative groups, individually, whole-class, and more. I also present lessons in a variety of ways, such as in auditory, visual, and hands-on formats so that students can learn in a way that best suits their individual needs. I also greatly enjoy collaborating with teachers and strongly believe that it helps to maximize students’ learning.

    I am very passionate about teaching and believe that I would be a beneficial contributor to your school district.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Any advice anyone could give me on how I could improve my cover letter would be greatly appreciated!

    Last year, I applied to EVERYWHERE in my area that I could commute to (including private schools, charter, etc.), the two districts that interviewed me were both public. However, I will definitely be casting a wider net into feasible places to relocate to. I honestly don't even care if I end up in a very rural area with not much around (actually, it might be de-stressing :tongueclosed:). My main concern is being able to afford to support myself, but I live in a very expensive area at the moent (the kind where if you find rent for under $1,600/month then it's basically a miracle), whereas most other places seem to be a lot more reasonable with living expenses.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 10, 2016

    Most of your cover letter is a re-hashing of yor resume. Look at the threads on the forums where other members have posted their covers for tweaking. Good advice given to those who ave covers similar to yours is to 'tell a story' that paints a culture of you as a teacher, a particular skill that makes you stand out, how you handled a particular situation. Consider trying that...maybe showcasing one time you differentiated that made a big difference in your student learning, perhaps... and re-post.
     
  7. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Jan 10, 2016

    Are you in Chicago, then?
    If you're willing to move to central IL, the Peoria public schools are hiring & are in dire need of teachers if you're willing to work with the lower income population!
    Peoria has a lower cost of living than the Chicago area (plus!) and I am getting paid more than my last job, which was in the Chicago suburbs (double plus!)
     
  8. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    This might be because you had to tweak it to make yourself anonymous, but you had a lot of grammatical errors in your cover letter. Make sure you are reading over it, and you might want to have someone else read through each one you write, also. The first sentence in what you posted here would probably be enough to have your resume put to the bottom of the pile.
     
  9. faye-wray

    faye-wray Rookie

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    I'm about a bit more north of Chicago (close to Wisconsin), but I would definitely consider relocating to central IL and I don't mind lower income schools, so I'll definitely look into! Thanks for letting me know!
     
  10. faye-wray

    faye-wray Rookie

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    Oh, yikes! You're right! I sat down to edit it once again and, as someone who's certified in English, I'm horrified at all the errors (and more than a little embarrassed). I think I made so many little edits to it on and off that I start to miss things...I'm working on completely revamping it, though. But thank you for pointing out that there were errors! :blush:
     
  11. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Peoria District 150 needs teachers the most & might pay the most as well? (I don't know!!), but you can also check out East Peoria and Dunlap, which are neighboring towns. There are many more but they're all small towns with their own districts and rarely hire. There are also several private schools & a charter school

    Look who's hiring for english teachers!!
    http://www.questpeoria.org/?page_id=3293
     
  12. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Jan 10, 2016

    It happens to all of us. That's why it's so important to have somebody with a fresh eye look things over sometimes.
     
  13. faye-wray

    faye-wray Rookie

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    Oh, wow, thanks so much! I just took a look and also saw that District 150 is looking for a HS English teacher as well. And they pay a decent starting salary (a little lower than what they offer here, bit it's A LOT cheaper to live in Peoria than it is where I am) As soon as I'm finished updating and fine-tuning some of my employment materials, I'll definitely be applying! :grin:
     
  14. Jac91

    Jac91 Rookie

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    I got a job right after I graduated and am from IL! The biggest thing I got from public was my lack of experience so I took a dive and look into a catholic schools (the Archdiocese of Chicago) due to the high number of openings. I was incredibly persistent after my interview and made sure to do a follow up interview expressing why I thought I'd fit in with the school. I was lucky and got the job! I never would have thought I'd be in a catholic school but I love my class and am learning so much. I also got the job with my Iowa license while my IL was still pending.
     
  15. faye-wray

    faye-wray Rookie

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    I had looked into Catholic schools before because they always seem to have openings and I've done some of my pre-student teaching observations in religious schools and loved it (they were typically Lutheran schools instead of Catholic, though), but a majority of them are in downtown Chicago and I live far enough away that commuting can take anywhere from 2-4 hours or more depending on which part of the city I need to get to, which train I take, which el lines I transfer over to, etc. and, from the research I've done on rent, I could never afford to live in Chicago or closer to it (at least in a relatively safe area where I wouldn't have to sleep with one eye open...). I'm always keeping an eye on their listings, though, in hopes that maybe a feasible will will pop up.
     
  16. faye-wray

    faye-wray Rookie

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    Jan 10, 2016

    Okay, so based on your suggestions, I completely revamped my cover letter:

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    It is with great pleasure that I am seeking a position as an English Language Arts teacher within your school district.

    I have graduated from *Insert University*, cum laude, in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary English Education and have subsequently received an Illinois Professional Educator’s License with a Senior High English Language Arts Endorsement and a Middle School English Language Arts Endorsement.

    As a student of *Insert University* and now a substitute teacher at *Insert School District* and *Insert School District*, I have been exposed to a wide variety of schools and students. I have worked with students with a variety of backgrounds and ability in regular classroom, special education classrooms, and ESL classrooms.

    As a result of my experiences, I have become highly adaptable to new and unexpected situations. I have also developed strong organizational skills and classroom management skills along with a variety of teaching strategies such as differentiated instruction, cooperative group work, and more.

    For example, during a lesson on descriptive writing during the narrative writing unit I implemented while student teaching, I differentiated instruction in a variety of ways. I began the lesson by asking students what they think it means to describe something. Then, I facilitated an activity where students were given different objects that were hidden in a brown paper bag. Along with this, they were given a chart that listed each of the five senses (minus the sense of touch since they were unable to taste the objects I had given them). Their goal was to find as many ways to describe the object using their different senses. Students were very engaged and excited to get to explore the object they were given and even began challenging each other to who could find the most descriptions.

    Once students had finished finding different ways to describe their object, they were asked to write a short story about their object, using at least one description they had listed for each sense. Their story could be about anything as long as it included their object and the aforementioned number of descriptions. Students were very excited to be given this freedom and let their creativity flow! Some students even surprised themselves by how vivid their stories became once they began using the sort of descriptions they had just worked on.

    By providing students with a lesson that included differentiation as well as a hands-on activity and some freedom for creativity, they were able to successfully learn a valuable writing skill that they can continue to use throughout their lives and enjoy doing so.

    In my teaching, I strive to keep students actively engaged and exciting about learning. I also greatly enjoy working and collaborating with other professionals and believe that it greatly maximizes students’ learning.

    Thank you for your consideration.


    I think it is much better, but I worry that it is perhaps a little too long, but I am unsure of how/where I can shorten it. If there are any more suggestions anyone can offer me, I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks so much for your help!
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
  17. Jac91

    Jac91 Rookie

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    Jan 10, 2016

    Don't forget to email principals or hr department directly after the appitrack. That's actually how I got the job I have now; the principal saw my email, which was just a more personalized version of my cover letter before my actual application even popped up.
     
  18. faye-wray

    faye-wray Rookie

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    See, I'm always hesitant to do that because sometimes when you send you app in applitrack, you get the little confirmation e-mail it will sometimes tell you NOT to contact the school and some people have told me you don't to bug the principal. On the other hand, I've been told to go ahead and do it anyway because then they know who you are...I swear, this whole teaching job search is like a landmine field sometimes.
     
  19. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    I actually started in daycares, which they did include as experience & also counted towards what my starting pay was!
    So if anyone just can not find a job, don't discount daycares! The pay is low but it will count as experience!
     
  20. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Your new letter is better than your original, yes. It also still needs work, yes. Bear in mind that the purpose of a cover letter is not to rehash your resume but rather to get the reader interested enough in you to WANT to read your resume. You can mention your licensure much more concisely - "Upon obtaining my Illinois teaching license in high school and middle school English/language arts,..." is shorter, though still long-winded - or, if you've had the sort of long-term substitute position for which a license is expected, you can leave mention of the license to the resume.

    Since this is a letter of application for English/language arts, it's more than usually incumbent on you to show a sure grasp of conventions, vocabulary, and style. Even the newer letter comes up short in these respects: watch your capitalization, and let your word choice and your syntax reflect that you're writing to adults with degrees who know something about education.

    (I'm a little puzzled by "(minus the sense of touch, since they were unable to taste the objects I had given them)".)
     
  21. geoteacher

    geoteacher Devotee

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    Just a quick comment - because it is often what I tell my daughter when I edit her writing - but the helping verbs really stand out to me. You might want to look at how often you use the word 'have' in your sentence structure. That being said, I think you're getting there!
     
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  22. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    It really does vary based on location. In my home state, there are thousands of applicants for each position in some areas. There, it's very common for districts to put a note on applitrack or whatever application system they use asking applicants not to contact them. Personally, I think the whole "call and ask if they received your application so they'll hear your name again" bit is an outdated tip. If there are thousands of applicants and even 1 out of every 100 decides to do this, that's a whole bunch of annoying calls for them to deal with. However, in my current location we have somewhat of a shortage. It's typical to only get a few applicants for each position, and unless they are clearly not qualified or their application has glaring errors, we tend to interview everyone that applies. In that situation, sending a personal email to the principal is not going to be an annoyance and can make you stand out. However, if the district has specifically said not to contact them, definitely don't contact them. Obviously they put that note on there for a reason!

    As far as out of state licenses, it's really not that big of a deal to get them and it is a HUGE help to have the license in hand when applying out of state. There is a shortage in my area and we don't even look into candidates that don't have our license- it's not worth it because we don't want to hire someone and later find out they're not serious about moving or can't get the license for some reason. Getting approved for a license here takes a long time and we can't afford to pass up chances for other candidates who are ready for hire while waiting on someone's license application to clear. Find some states that have reciprocity so that you know you won't have to take any additional tests or anything like that, and get a license in your top one or two states that you'd really consider living in. I moved for my first job. The application for the license took less than an hour and I don't remember the exact cost, but I know it was under 100, which is nothing when you consider how much it opens up your job search. My friend actually drove 14 hours to a job fair in NC (HUGE shortage at the time, not sure if it's still the same, and she's sped certified) and districts wouldn't even talk to her or take her resume once she said she hadn't applied for their license yet. As soon as she had it in hand and contacted them again (from our home state) she literally got 12 interviews from NC in one week.
     
  23. faye-wray

    faye-wray Rookie

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    I'm trying to PM you because I would be interested in more information, but I can't quite seem to figure out how to do so (I'm new here, so I don't know if you've had to be a member for a set amount of time or what...)
     
  24. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    The thing that you should keep in mind, with regard to job openings--places that have openings TEND to be not-so-good working environments. e.g. When I was looking for a job daily, Las Vegas (CCSD) and Houston (HISD?) were a couple of places that had some openings. Both, in doing research online, were places where teachers had complaints (#1 lack of support). You just want to recognize this possibility... after all, places where people want to work typically aren't places with lots of openings.

    As a long-time teaching job-seeker, I felt like the best opportunities come from the area you're familiar with (i.e. hometown). A couple of things I'd do:

    -You say you don't mind subbing right now, and it sounds like you are at the HS level. I would make myself available for long-term subbing work, at any level. These are good opportunities to build resume/teaching experience.

    -Toward end of school year and certainly summer: I visited each school I was interested in, hand-delivering my resume (even if they expressly said don't do that) and introducing myself to the secretary and hopefully principal. I applied to probably over 500 schools online over 5 years = no interviews or leads. I visited 50 schools over 1-2 off-seasons = 3 interviews.
     
  25. Jamie Reynolds

    Jamie Reynolds Rookie

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    I have been teaching for 15 years and have gained a TON of experience on how to get hired by watching potential teachers get jobs and those who didn't. If you want my insider's perspective in detail, you can get it for free if you are an Amazon Kindle Unlimited member, or if you want to download it for $2.99, it would be well worth your time. I wrote it because I am trying to help potential teachers get hired. I have seen a lot and learned a lot. The book gives you an insider's perspective. It is titled "How to Get Hired as a Full-Time Teacher: An Insider's Perspective" by Jamie Reynolds, and is a quick but very helpful read. You can buy it on Amazon ebooks.
     
  26. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    Jan 21, 2016

    I live in Texas. Certain parts of Texas have a major teaching shortage. I live in West Texas and many of the school districts out here started the year at least 100 teachers short. My district started 10 to 20 short. My school alone was 3 short. Major cities Dallas, Houston, San Antonio) and their surrounding areas really don't have the shortage it's places like West Texas were our shortage is. If anyone is interested please PM me.
     
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  27. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Jan 21, 2016

    This x1000
     
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  28. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Jan 21, 2016

    This can often be true, but not always...I work in a great district and we have current openings due to people who left mid-year for various reasons. You never know! Keep an open mind, but definitely do your research and know the district and its culture before accepting a job. I have suffered in the past from making hasty decisions when I just wanted *any* job. I think it's better to sub than to have a disastrous experience.
     
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  29. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    :yeahthat:Our district is hiring hundreds of teachers each year, and so while I'm sure many districts have openings because of conditions, it's definitely not all. I feel unbelievably supported and in an extremely strong district.
     
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  30. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that it can be true that some of these places with lots of openings have less than ideal working conditions. I don't think that's universally true, though, or even true most of the time. Even within a single district, such as CCSD which you mention above, there are so many different schools (in the case of CCSD: 336 schools) with different administrations/climates/philosophies that it's even difficult to make this claim. My own school is an at-risk school that probably looks pretty bad on paper, but it's actually a great working environment for the most part. It's one of those things where you just don't know until you see it for yourself. I guess what I'm saying is be willing to have an open mind about this stuff.
     
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  31. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Jan 21, 2016

    I noticed the exact same thing. Your letter almost reads as bullet points:

    -I have done this.
    -I have done that.
    -I went to here.
    -I did that there.
    -I have been there.

    etc.

    It's not very fluid to me at all. In fact I stopped reading it both times after the second paragraph because I was so tired of reading "I..." at the beginning of each sentence.
     
  32. Geologygirl

    Geologygirl Comrade

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    Jan 23, 2016

    Northern California tends to have openings. I know they hired folks from out-of-state the same time I was hired. Southern California is a little bit different though. More competition.
     
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  33. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Jan 23, 2016

    I
    Lots of jobs in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
     

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