First let me preface this by saying I’m not trying to brag, but I figured if I got that many offers in an economy like this I must be doing something right, and I wanted to offer some suggestions. 1. The Resume/Cover Letter *This is the most important thing. 90% of the time principals will see this before they see you, so you have to look good on paper. *Take your time. Have others proofread for you. Post it in the forums. Get feedback. *Remember that principals will see hundreds of these. How is yours going to stand out? My resume is a more professional variation of this: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3555/3337535450_7ea0e2a798_o.jpg. I chose blue instead of green, and it doesn’t have the giant leaf or the decorative border. I did place my name vertically (in a text box) and I used blue again for the section headers. *Use color carefully. Like I said before, I did use color, but only one! I also wouldn’t use anything like hot pink or orange. *There is a lot of debate over resumes being limited to one page or not. This is how I got around that. I used an 11x17 piece of cardstock, folded in half. On the front cover, I printed my cover letter. On the inside, you have a full 11x17 spread to put two standard sized pages side by side. That way, the principal can see everything on one very large page. Most people won’t look at the back cover, but some might, so I just printed excerpts from my letters of recommendation. 2. The Search *Yes, it is possible to get a job just by applying to the district website and getting lucky. However, I recommend being proactive, and searching out opportunities instead of letting them come to you. Many schools don’t post openings or if they do it’s for a very short period of time. *First, decide how far you are willing to drive, this comes into play later. *Go to your department of education/district website. They should have some kind of “school search” feature. In Arizona, you can search by city. Find every single school within your driving range (how far you’re willing to drive). Find the address for each school. *Use the Mapquest Route Planner (http://www.mapquest.com/routeplanner) to plan a driving route. You input all the addresses, and it will give you the shortest route that hits every address. *Take a resume/cover letter packet to every single school within that range. Yes, this takes time, gas, and lots of printer ink. But you want a job, don’t you? *Continue checking district websites daily and apply for those positions as well. * Be open to charter, public, and religious schools. 3 of my 4 job offers were at charter schools. 3. The Interview *Hooray! You got called for an interview! Make sure you prepare. *Research the school/district. Check out their parent reviews/test scores on greatschools.org. Bone up on the type of curriculum they use. *You WILL get asked: “Why do you want to work here?” Don’t say, “Because I like kids”. Answer with a specific reason that shows them you know what sets their school apart. *You will also get asked: “Tell me about yourself”. Principals do not want to know about your family, dog, or recent vacation. Use this time to sell yourself. Imagine that they’re asking you, “What makes you different than everyone else I’m going to interview today?” *Read over/practice interview questions. There is a thread on this site that lists many possibilities. Role play with a friend, having them ask you questions from the list. *Remember, principals aren’t really concerned about making your dreams come true. They really don’t care that you’ve wanted to teach since you can remember and that this job/school/district is your dream. They want to know how YOU’RE going to make THEIR dreams come true. What can you do for them? What can you bring to their school? How can you help their students? *At the end of the interview, you’ll have the chance to ask questions. Ask at least two. Good questions to ask might be, “What opportunities will I have for professional development?” or “How does your school encourage collaboration?” Don’t ask any questions regarding pay or benefits. Also, don’t ask questions that make you sound lazy, selfish, or disinterested like, “Will I have recess duty?” or “How many sick days do I get?” *One question I always like to ask is, “What does the rest of your interview process look like?” This way you will know if there is a second interview, and the principal will usually offer up some kind of timeline for when they will make their decision. 4. Follow Up *Depending on how quickly the interview process is moving, you should either snail mail or email the principal immediately following the interview thanking them for their time. *In the email/letter, state one or two reasons why you are right for this position. For example: Dear Ms. Principal, It was my pleasure to interview with you and your team yesterday. I just wanted to express my continued interest in working for XYZ Elementary and thank you for the opportunity to interview. I am excited at the prospect of being part of such a dynamic team. I know that my commitment to collaboration and my emphasis on thematic, project based learning will greatly benefit your students. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, Me *Be patient. It may take a few weeks to hear back. If you don’t hear back after a substantial period of time (more than two weeks), it is fine to call or drop a quick email, but don’t pester them. *Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Until you have a signed contract in your hand, keep looking. 5. If You Get the Job * Congrats! Remember that you need to call/email other schools that you interviewed at and let them know you’ve accepted another position. *If it’s not your dream job, try not to be discouraged. It’s hard when it’s not the grade level you want to teach, or your classroom is a closet, or you have to drive an hour to get there. Try to focus on the positive. Many people won’t find jobs this year, you are truly blessed. *Celebrate! Take yourself out to dinner, get a pedicure, or buy some new shoes. You earned it. 6. If You Didn’t Get the Job * I know it’s hard to keep your chin up, but remember, there IS a job out there for you somewhere. Every interview you go on is good practice, and as you feel more comfortable and prepared you will be offered a job. *Look for opportunities for more experience. Volunteer, take a job as an aide, teach swim lessons, etc. All of these things will set you apart from other applicants. Whew, I know that was long! Again, I don’t mean to sound like a know it all, and I’m sure there will be some people who will disagree with things I’ve said. That’s just fine! There’s more than one way to do things. I just wanted to offer some advice and see if I could help you guys out!