How I got 4 job offers - Tips and Tricks

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by kassrose, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. kassrose

    kassrose Companion

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    Jun 25, 2010

    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!

    :)
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jun 25, 2010

    Great tips, kass!

    I serve on our school hiring committee and it's amazing how little prepared some candidates seem...
     
  4. teacher36

    teacher36 Comrade

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    Jun 25, 2010

    Thank you so much for the advice. I just posted something about being depressed because I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Many of your suggestions, I have already done but I hope to use some of your tips when I FINALLY get called for an interview. Good luck to you!
     
  5. jwteacher

    jwteacher Cohort

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    Yeah, I think that cover letter might stand out. :p

    These are really good tips for job hunters. :)
     
  6. cristin11

    cristin11 Rookie

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    Thanks for the tips! I am definitely going to use some :)
     
  7. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    I think these are practical tips that will make you stand out above the rest. It will get you the interview. Once you get the interview, I would make sure that prior to going on the interview, that you do your research on the school or the district. Know their numbers, test scores, demographics, programs, etc. This is usually easily accessible online, but you would be surprised how many people go in knowing very little about the place they are interviewing. Wishing all you interviewees all the best. This is good advice.
     
  8. Kangaroo22

    Kangaroo22 Virtuoso

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    Jun 25, 2010

    Thanks for the tips!
     
  9. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Jun 25, 2010

    Great post...

    How do you get those creative templates for your letter though? Like you said, perhaps not the big leaf, but how do you go about finding something like that? I mean, I can't draw for squat.

    Also, do you do all this on Word? For your 11x17 thing, is there something that allows you to break it down as you did?
     
  10. jwteacher

    jwteacher Cohort

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    There is art like that you can purchase on the internet. Just do a template search and you'll see some professional work done.

    If you go to page setup in Word, you can adjust the margins to print out something in 11x17 format. Make sure your printer is capable of that medium, however.
     
  11. kassrose

    kassrose Companion

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    I did do it all in Word, but I didn't use a template. I probably wouldn't add clip art unless it was very tasteful. I just used a text box to put my name vertically on the side and then typed the rest. As mentioned by the person before me, you can change the paper size to 11x17.
     
  12. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Jun 25, 2010

    How do you get your name to go vertically?
     
  13. kassrose

    kassrose Companion

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    Type your name in a text box, then under Format, choose Text Direction.
     
  14. sunshine*inc

    sunshine*inc Cohort

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    Jun 26, 2010

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I won't be interviewing, if there are any positions to interview for, until next year, but I'll keep your tips in mind.
     
  15. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Jun 26, 2010

    Thank you for sharing the #1 tip! I have heard about this from one of my very successful ex co workers on the need to make your resume stand out!
     
  16. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    It is true. I went through hundreds of resumes for my P this year. And after awhile, I got really good at looking past some of the general ones and finding the ones that stood out in my mind either because of experience, voice, or just innovative technique.
     
  17. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Jun 26, 2010

    Thanks kass!!
     
  18. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Jun 26, 2010

    Wonderful! Thanks.
     
  19. kassrose

    kassrose Companion

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    I was reading "Relentless Pursuit" which is a book about Teach for America, and one of the girls said that at the end of her interview she asked the principal, "What kind of a candidate do you think I am for this position?"

    Too forward?
     
  20. tgtbtj

    tgtbtj Companion

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    Great tips!! As I was going through I realized that I did every single one of these things and I got a job so I know these things really do work. I think the most important tip as you stated are that the cover letter really stand out!! I completely redid my cover letter after reading some suggestions on this forum and I think it really did the trick! I put in more personal information, I addressed it to the principal personally instead of putting to whom it may concern, and I know that it definitely stood out. I added clip art but I made sure it was tasteful and nice. Well thanks again for the great tips!!
     
  21. Anne wmcosuvamu

    Anne wmcosuvamu Companion

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    Oooh, I like the cover letter idea! I'm coming from the (ultra-conservative) business world and it seems quite radical ;) but very good for getting noticed! One question... I've very carefully maintained a one page resume (as I've been taught). Would it look strange to have the cover letter on the front, and then the resume on the inside with the left half of the inside blank (like a greeting card)?

    I'm still in my MEd/Cert program and won't be applying for jobs until next year (for the 2011-12 year), but I'm definitely saving this post! Thanks so much for your great tips. :)
     
  22. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Where would you put any extra activities that you do? Such as community/church work, speaker for youth events, photography clubs, etc? The cover letter, right?

    It relates to teaching in a way---working with the youth in the community/church. I was wondering if putting something like that will make me seem more involved or attractive??
     
  23. kassrose

    kassrose Companion

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    Maybe you could use the left side for a photo of you working in the classroom?
     
  24. kassrose

    kassrose Companion

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    Jun 28, 2010

    I have a "Volunteer Work" section in my resume, but you could definitely mention it in your cover letter as well!
     
  25. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    Jun 29, 2010

    I list extra experiences under Other Experience. I usually put that at the bottom of my resume.
     
  26. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    You could use a favorite page from your portfolio. It would be a great interview hand-out.
     
  27. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Love that resume!! I design all my documents in Powerpoint-you can move images and text really easily without the margin issues, if that helps anyone.

    I also list my 'extras' under 'community involvement'.

    If you are looking to make the large resume folded in half, Kinkos can set it up and copy it for you-it's very cheap. I've always had a 3-4 page resume and never received any comments about it. But the folded idea is great!

    Good luck, all!! Your job is out there and will happen when the timing is just right!!
     
  28. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Ok, thanks everybody. Let me put it in there and mail it off. I haven't been able to get good sleep agonizing over this job search.
     
  29. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    I find that Microsoft Word 2007 is the easiest route for developing a print-friendly, colorful creative resume. I love that you can save anything as a PDF file. PDFs are great for emailing your resume to principals/admin.
     
  30. deeceekids

    deeceekids Companion

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    Very useful and wonderful tips! Hooking a job, especially in this market, really does take careful planning and timing, but well worth it in the end.
     
  31. cristin11

    cristin11 Rookie

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    I'm so excited! I just printed out the 11x17 resume packet and it looks amazing! Thanks so much for the tip!

    Also, the printer I use can't print on cardstock. I have really nice paper though, so do you think that could work instead? If not, anyone know a place I could easily print on cardstock (not sure if Kinkos or Office Depot does that)?

    Thanks!
     
  32. kassrose

    kassrose Companion

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    They will both print 11x17 cardstock, so will Staples. The problem is, it's about $1-$1.50 per sheet. I think you're fine with the regular paper, unless you're looking to shell out a LOT of money.
     
  33. cristin11

    cristin11 Rookie

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    Hmm, I think maybe I'll just use regular paper to send out and cardstock when on the interview. Thanks for the answer!
     
  34. supermissf

    supermissf Rookie

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    Use nice resume paper--its thicker with a different texture, specifically made for resumes and cover letters.
     

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