What can I do to encourage responses to my applications?

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by curiouslystrong, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    Jun 16, 2012

    I have been seriously applying for jobs for about 3-4 weeks, mainly for positions in large districts/schools in a large urban/metro area. I have applied to 30+ districts/schools (I've applied to some individual charter schools and a few charter school networks) with active job postings in my certification area and probably 50+ individual positions. So far the only things I have heard back are:

    - 1 rejection
    - 1 acknowledgment that my resume had been received

    I've used Applitrack for the majority of my applications, though some charter school systems have their own forms, and CPS (Chicago) definitely has their own thing going on. (Incidentally, CPS also seems to have put their hiring process on hold until June 25th and has removed all job postings from their system.)

    I know it's early yet, and I also know that none of my colleagues applying for jobs in the area have heard anything back, either (except for a few people who started applying in April and have heard back from a couple charters), but the anticipation is killing me, and I'm hoping to figure out some ways to encourage responses. So, I have a few questions:

    - I have three references (whose contact information I can provide on applications) and two reference letters. However, the reference letters were not originally intended to be letters of recommendation: they were performance reviews written by my cooperating teacher and field instructor. However, they're over-the-top positive and positively gushing with praise, and aside from their titles, they read exactly like a letter of recommendation would. I should also note that I am not using the principal of the school I student taught at as a reference, as he did not like my CT for some reason and, as a result, tried to get at him through me (though I never directly involved myself in their "feud" and, in fact, deliberately avoided it). Is anything in this scenario potentially hurting me? Should I solicit someone for another recommendation letter? Is it hurting me that I don't feel comfortable using my principal as a reference, since I fear that he might throw me under the bus?

    - Applitrack applications go to entire districts, so I've been addressing my cover letters to the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources most of the time, and to the district's Superintendent of schools if there's not anyone in particular in charge of human resources that I can find. Sometimes I'm applying to multiple positions at different schools in the district, so I've generally avoided addressing my letters of introduction to principals. Is this what I should be doing? I really have no idea.

    - I saw this mentioned in another thread regarding Applitrack and "Highly Qualified": I'm a newly certified teacher, so obviously no school district has considered me "highly qualified". I've been checking "no" on the question that asks whether a school district has ever considered you highly qualified...is this automatically taking me out of contention for some positions?

    - Should I be independently contacting principals or someone within the district in some way? Should I be calling them (if the posting doesn't specifically prohibit outside calls)? Sending them emails? I don't want to come across as annoying, but I am wondering if there's something extra that I can do to indicate my interest in a particular position.


    Sorry this is so long-winded (and hopefully this all hasn't been addressed in another thread - I looked but didn't find anything). I'm just really excited about the prospect of securing my first teaching job and I want to make sure that I'm going about the application process in the best way possible. Thanks! :)
     
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  3. mkbren88

    mkbren88 Cohort

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    Jun 16, 2012

    I'd just keep applying, and maybe sent e-mails to individual principals with your resume attached. Your letter of references should be fine, but I'd look into getting actual letters of recommendation, where somewhere on there, they say they would recommend you for a teaching position. As for the highly qualified, what does it take for you to be highly qualified in your state? If you are actually highly qualified, I would start checking the YES option. I was highly qualified right out of college. Just keep applying and trying. Everything will fall into place! Good luck.
     
  4. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    Thanks, mkbren88!

    My letters do recommend me for a teaching position, one explicitly, and one in a more roundabout way; the last sentence is: "An intelligent advocate of social studies and its value in literacy, science, math and language arts teaching, she symbolizes excellence in both teaching and learning and her internship has been a model signature of great promise." (and the rest of the review is equally effusive)

    I did ask both my CT and field instructor for actual recommendation letters, but they both tend to be flaky on that kind of thing (and they are busy people, so I understand that), so so far I haven't received any. I just don't want to pester them too much when I already have some pretty glowing reviews from them, anyway.

    As for the highly qualified thing, the Applitrack form has a "Highly Qualified" section with two questions. The first, which you can choose "yes" or "no" for, is: "Have you previously obtained Highly Qualified status from a school district?" I've been putting "no," since going by that wording, no, I haven't. (I think.) The second part of the section says this: "For the subject areas below in which you meet the federal highly qualified standard, select the method used to meet the standard. Only select a method for those subjects in which you meet the federal highly qualified standard." So for this question I CAN indicate that I am highly qualified in my subject areas, but I still sort of wonder if my "no" answer to the other question is hurting me at all.
     
  5. TryingToTeach11

    TryingToTeach11 Rookie

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    Jun 16, 2012

    Hi, I don't know if you've seen this, but I used the CPS employment bulletins https://hrportal.cps.k12.il.us/psc/cpseppr2/EMPLOYEE/EMPL/c/EPPCM_CONTENT_MGMT.EPPCM_PUB_VIEWER.GBL?EPPCM_CONTENTID=4004&SHOW_SUMMARY=N&

    to find the jobs I wanted to apply to in CPS. I have to say that I didn't hear back from a single public school, but heard back from all the catholic schools I reached out to (if you are interested at all in Chicago Catholic).

    Also you ARE highly qualified. I'm sure you are certified through IL. Go to their website https://sec1.isbe.net/ecs/Login.asp , login, go to credentials, and then NCLB. You should have a list of subjects you are HQ for.

    Good luck!
     
  6. TryingToTeach11

    TryingToTeach11 Rookie

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    Jun 16, 2012

    I just read your most recent post. I doubt that its hurting you to put "no". I decided when I didn't hear back from the public school system that it might be because I lacked a masters or a few years of experience. I'm sure when you get your foot in the door you'll be able to wow them anyway though :)
     
  7. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    Tryingtoteach, thanks :)

    I have used the CPS personnel bulletin, but for the past two weeks they've stopped including postings for teaching positions, and instead there's a page that says that "beginning immediately" all open teaching positions will only be accessible via the online application. I've filled this out and I had selected several open positions to "apply" for (it doesn't feel like you're really applying, since all you do is add the position to your "job preferences" so that the principal can view your application with CPS), but they also recently took that down, too, and replaced it with a message stating that they will begin their hiring process on June 25th and I can check back then. :| At least I've got a CPS-only job fair to attend on the 23rd to hopefully jump-start the process! :)

    I'm actually not certified in Illinois yet: I student taught in CPS, but I completed my teacher preparation program at a university in Michigan. I'd really prefer to continue teaching in Illinois, though, so I've started paperwork to obtain a license in Illinois, which I've made sure to mention on my applications.
     
  8. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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    Jun 16, 2012

    I would just check yes on both questions for the Highly Qualified Status. None of the districts have told me that I'm highly qualified either but I certainly wouldn't have been allowed to teach if I wasn't. It's still early on. Some schools might take a while to respond.
     
  9. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Jun 17, 2012

    I am extremely confused as to how you are changing your cover letters for each position in Applitrack. Are these all separate systems and not consortiums? For example, one area in which I am applying in has about 50 districts using the same Applitrack consortium. So, my cover letter states: "Dear XXXX County Area Schools." Another nearby district has about 20 districts in their consortium, so it says "Dear ZZZZZ County Area Schools."

    I email the principals (and sometimes HR, Supers, and Asst Supers). I change my cover letter for each email.

    I think the two biggest things hurting you are actually A. you are not certified in Illinois and B. you are in the most competitive field in education (social studies). This makes A even more harmful.
     
  10. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    Jun 17, 2012

    Most of my Applitrack applications go to school districts; I've applied to two county consortiums in the state of Illinois (and I addressed those the way that you addressed yours), but the vast majority of my applications have gone either to a) separate school districts, or b) charter school networks. So, for example, one job I recently applied to was in "Township High School District 113," which has an Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, and I addressed the letter of introduction that I attached to my Applitrack application to him.

    I did wonder if maybe the fact that I'm not yet certified in Illinois might be hurting me. To combat this, I've been trying to play up the fact that my student teaching internship was in Illinois (and year-long, rather than just one semester). I've also filled out the paperwork I need to get a certificate in Illinois and signed up to take their content-area tests in early July, which I always mention in the "General Information" or "Additional Information" section of the Applitrack form. For what it's worth, I've also applied to some jobs in Michigan (none of them have gotten back to me, either, but then Michigan is not an easy state to get a job in at all these days), but there have been fewer posted and I'd really prefer a job in the Chicago area, anyway.

    I think that I will start sending some emails to principals or department heads. I do generally change my cover letter up somewhat, content-wise, but I feel like most of stuff in my "generic" cover letter fits with what each specific district is looking for (i.e. the districts/schools have very similar missions, requirements, qualifications, etc.). I sort of have a "bulk" generic cover letter that I edit to reflect my expertise with specific preferences mentioned in individual postings, and I always make sure to indicate in some way that I am particularly enthusiastic about that school/district.
     
  11. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Jun 17, 2012

    Could you mail mini-portfolios to several districts?
     
  12. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    I have a digital portfolio that is linked in the contact info section of my cover letter and resume (I also explicitly refer to it within the text of my cover letter). I'm thinking of emailing principals/department heads (if anyone has any experience with this and has an opinion on who is better to email - or if I should email both - feel free to add any input :) ) and directing them to it?
     
  13. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I just think administrators have so much email to sort through as is that putting something in their hands (short and sweet) will be more effective.
     
  14. emb382

    emb382 Rookie

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    Follow up with emails to Ps for jobs you are seriously interested in. If you are not satisfied with your responses, start emailing Ps for positions you are less excited about. Make sure your cover letter is as best as you can make it. It shows so much about you- passions, meaningful experiences, education info, and a writing sample. My friend has been applying for over a year with no cover letter!! I would actually only email my cover letter to Ps. If it looks awesome, they will look at your entire application. Also, you have not been searching that long, so give it time. Also, be sure to apply to as many districts as possible (something else friend did not do). Keep us posted!! :)
     
  15. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I don't think anything that you mention is hurting your chances except not having the Illinois certification yet. Most schools want to hire a candidate who is certified in their state so that they don't have the possibility of hiring a candidate and then they cannot get certified for whatever reason.

    I would definitely start seeking out principal e-mails or visiting schools to drop off packets of information yourself. It's an easy way to get noticed and often times will lead to an interview.
     
  16. Rainbowbird

    Rainbowbird Groupie

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    Jun 17, 2012

    I ended up checking no for the HQS on the applitrack application as I was not under contract when this became a federal policy. Note that the question does not ask if you are highly qualified. It asks if another district has identified you as such.

    I think the reason they ask this is because if another district has identified you, it can make it easier for them to do so. Why the concern? Because in some cases, it can be hard to qualify someone that they want to hire, due to the dubious standards that the government, in all its wisdom, has inflicted upon us.

    In a separate field, I explained that I was indeed highly qualified. Also, it is obvious from my degree and cert. that that is indeed the case.

    It would be a falsehood to state that another district has identified you if they have not. I would check no and then explain in another field box that you are HQ.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
  17. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Every district Applitrac is different. Each district you can upload a different Cover Letter to. If you are applying for multiple positions then in your Cover letter just list all of the positions you are certified for.
     
  18. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    You guys are all awesome - thanks for the tips!

    I know I haven't really been searching for too long, but honestly I'm just really excited about the prospect of getting a teaching job and am starting to get impatient, lol. Plus I want to make sure I really am doing everything that I can to sell myself to districts and maximize my chances of hearing back from them.

    As far as dealing with the not-certified-in-Illinois-yet issue, I think I will do what you suggest, Rainbowbird. I'd just feel dishonest if I selected yes, I think. :/

    I will definitely start sending out emails to principals for jobs in which I'm especially interested. I will also put together some mini-portfolios, if not to send out, at least to bring with me to interviews (knock on wood that I actually get some one of these days ;) ).

    I'm not overly concerned about my resume or cover letter; I think they're pretty solid, but of course that probably doesn't mean they couldn't always be improved a bit. If I wanted to post them for a critique, would it be best to put them in this thread or to just go ahead and start a new one?

    Again, thank you everyone for responding - you guys have been an incredible help! :)
     
  19. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    You would get more feedback in a new thread.
     
  20. sks72

    sks72 Rookie

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    Jun 17, 2012

    Make them pink and scented, like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.:p
     
  21. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    Thanks, I'll start a new thread!

    sks72, I was thinking about more of a pastel green with sparkles. To, you know, stand out from the crowd. ;)
     
  22. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Definitely start a new thread.
     
  23. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I have been tempted to put mine on colored cardstock! Last time I bought resume paper, I was eying an aqua color :lol:
     
  24. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think the great secret to getting an interview, once you have a decent resume, is a killer cover letter.

    SO many cover letters are fairly generic, like something that could have-- and probably was-- downloaded from a site that specializes in education cover letters. They include all the most current buzzwords and don't give the slightest hint as to the person behind the letter.

    A LOT of people here have had success with a cover letter that tells a story, in a sentence or two, of a particular success. It can be large or small, though small tends to be better. But as someone who has conducted interviews for teachers, I would MUCH rather read of Timmy, who found success in your class, then of how you differetiated instruction and accomodated multiple intelligences and all that other stuff you learned in your education courses. Show me that you get results, leave me thinking "Now THAT'S a teacher I want to meet!" and you've got the interview.
     
  25. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    I would say that I am certain that my cover letter reflects who I am as a teacher, though I will definitely consider adding a story of a particular student success to it! I've made a thread for resume/cover letter critique as well (still waiting for it to be approved by a moderator), so hopefully I will be able to get some more targeted feedback that way, as well.

    I do invite the reader of my cover letter to look at my digital portfolio, which I set up to be centered around student work. If they don't have the time to check my portfolio out, though, I guess they wouldn't be able to see that piece of my teaching as much. So I'll definitely try to personalize my cover letter some more - thanks! :)
     
  26. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    CPS hires so late. I have been applying since April and I only had one interview....and that was when I emailed the principal directly. Admittedly, I spent a lot of time on that cover letter making it unique for that school. There is something to be said for a good cover letter! Waiting to hear if I made the 2nd round of interviews. :)

    I am intrigued by this job fair though. How did you hear about it? Can I sign up somehow? I am K-8 elementary and sped certified.
     
  27. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    If you go to urbanneeds [dot] org, pretty much front and center on the page, there's a section labeled "News and Upcoming Events," and right under that are the words "UNITE Chicago Educator Job Fair". It looks like registration is still open, and they claim that there will be 50+ CPS principals there, so it could be a good opportunity!

    I heard about it because I went to a few UNITE workshops during my student teaching, and I think CPS sent out an email to its student teachers. It's also mentioned on the DePaul College of Education's Weekly Advising Updates page (I didn't go to DePaul, but that page definitely has some good stuff for area job-seeking teachers).

    On another note, to anyone who happens to know: when addressing emails to principals regarding a position to which you've applied, what do you put in the subject line?
     
  28. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 18, 2012

    If there's a link in your letter, curiouslystrong, or something that the system software can interpret as one, the forum software will block it. The software does that automatically when someone hasn't been a member for very long: this is by way of not encouraging spammers. You'd be well advised to repost without the link.
     
  29. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    TeacherGroupie - thanks. There was a link, and I wondered if that was why I got the message that my post needed moderator approval. I'll go ahead and make the post without the link.
     
  30. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Good. At the rate you're going, you'll soon be eligible to post links anyway.
     
  31. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Ew, it's $15! *sigh* I guess I'll go anyway.

    I have an interview with LEARN Charter on Wednesday. Nothing else scheduled!

    For principal emails I usually put like "School Name Vacancy" or something. When they used to post in the bulletin, some of them were really specific about what they wanted. But now there is no bulletin.....? :confused:
     
  32. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    $15 for a job fair. Didn't someone recently mention charging applicants for teacher jobs on this very forum.
     
  33. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Well they only charged for non-members. The organization offers a $20 membership where the fair and all their PDs are free, so I just did that. Maybe they'll offer some good workshops too.
     
  34. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    If they offer any good PD, it'd be hard to turn this offer down if you want to go to the job fair. I hope that they offer some great PD that you can attend.
     
  35. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I usually put "Openings" or "Open Positions" as the subject. If the district says the school is TBD, I put "Potential Openings" as the subject.
     

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