This video interview series is brought to
you by GetTeachingJob.com. Hi. You’ve finished college.
You’re done with your student teaching. Now you want to get a continuing contract
as a full time teacher. To help you along your way, here’s the experience
of Wendy, who’s now a teacher. Wendy is from Southeastern Pennsylvania.
After interviewing at nine schools, she landed a job as a middle school science teacher.
Wendy competed for a sought-after job in a suburban public school in Pennsylvania.
She got the job. So how did she do it?
Let’s find out. Here’s Wendy.
Hi Wendy. Let’s start with a little background information about yourself if I can.
What city do you live in? And what’s the job market like in your area?
I live near Downington, West Chester, in Chester county, Pennsylvania.
It’s west of Philly. It’s a growing suburban area with excellent
public schools. The districts receive hundreds of applications
for each job. So it’s very competitive here.
Pennsylvania has a strong teachers’ union and jobs are quite sought after in the public
schools. It’s a particularly challenging job market
for elementary, physical education, and social studies teachers.
I was looking for a science position. Since the county is growing in the northern
and western areas, there were possibilities for me to find a job.
There are also two fairly urban districts that I didn’t apply to.
I didn’t feel that would work for me for in my first year as a teacher.
So how long were you job searching? And how many interviews did you get?
Let’s see, I started looking in March and was offered a job in late June.
All in all, I had nine interviews with six districts, including one charter school.
Wow, that’s quite a number of interviews! What’s your secret in getting all those
interview invites? Well, at first I just filled out the on-line
applications and called Human Resources departments to find out what to do next, just like the
instructions said. After finishing the paperwork I’d just sit
on my hands. Then my business sense kicked in.
I was in sales eleven years, you know. I thought – why not go straight to the person
making the decision? So I did some research and sent out cover
letters and resumes to every principal in my driving area.
That’s about 45 minutes, by the way. And even a few further away.
All up, it involved 23 districts in four different counties.
I also applied to every on-line job that I was qualified for.
Since I’m certified to teach in middle school and high school, each principal got a letter
that was tailored for the specific school and age group.
I didn’t send the same letter to everyone, it was much more targeted.
This took a lot of research on-line, but it was worth it.
In the end it got me most of my interviews. Human Resources always had my application
package, and if they didn’t take applications, I mentioned my application was on-line at
whatever on-line resume service they used. There are three main ones around here.
I also even hand-delivered a few letters. That’s a great tactic, by the way.
I would have done more of it had it occurred to me earlier in my job hunt.
So, if I was unfamiliar with a district, I drove there, dressed in my interview clothes,
and looked around to get a feel for it. Then I’d go in, leave my resume and ask
for information on the district. Then I’d mail a follow-up letter and my
resume again. I must say, you are very resourceful. Thinking
outside the box. How did you perfect your cover letter and
resume? I took this all very seriously, spent a lot
of effort on it. First, my cover letter and resume was read
and critiqued by three different people. They examined everything – my spelling, my
grammar, the overall clarity. And I made changes from their feedback.
I then printed it on an off-white paper. I didn’t spend a fortune on anything fancy
like special envelopes or heavy resume paper, by the way.
I think the content’s very important. It’s important to give attention to what a candidate
can bring to their school and your most important attributes.
In my case, I felt it important to mention my life experiences and my maturity in terms
of classroom management, and my several certifications that provided the district flexibility in
placing me. You know, the cover letter’s the first impression
the principal will get of a candidate. This needs to be PERFECT – well thought out,
no mistakes, good looking, and names all spelled correctly.
A candidate’s best attributes should not only be highlighted, but also given in reference
to how they could benefit the school. Well that certainly worked, you did get a
fair number of interviews. Were there any questions at the interview
that kept cropping up? Can you recall any questions that were asked
fairly commonly? This interview series is based on Tim Wei’s
guide, “I Want A Teaching Job”, where you’ll find the complete printed version
of this interview, plus other interviews in this video series.
To find Tim’s guide, just go to GetTeachingJob.com. Or click the link you see below this video.
For part two of this video, please click the red link here.