Get That Job!

Earlier this month a panel of eleven experienced principals gathered at UVEI to answer questions aspiring teachers had about some potentially scary topics.

No, we're not talking about the challenges of classroom management, curriculum or state mandated tests. The frightening topic was finding a job: the application package, interview and hiring process.

Although a lot of advice was specific to education, quite a few helpful nuggets provided good advice for almost anyone seeking a job.

Be Yourself

Jeff Valence, principal at Lyme Elementary School, had one of the most memorable pieces of advice, which might sound trite if the implication were not so important: be yourself. Finding the right workplace is akin to finding a spouse, said Valence. You want the relationship to be lasting. If you present yourself as someone you're not during the interview and you secure the job, it may not be a happy partnership.

Create a Digital Portfolio

Most principals on the panel said that they’d prefer a digital portfolio. Those of us old enough to remember teaching before the digital age will recall that portfolios were often presented during the interview in binder form. Last week’s panel of administrators largely endorsed a digital version. Several noted that the portfolio is a chance to illustrate a candidate’s tech savvy. Try creating a Google site to display work. Keri Gelenian, Rivendell’s principal, said,  “If you do bring a physical portfolio, make sure you have a copy to leave with the committee.”

Stellar Reference Letters

Reference letters should not be generic. A generic-sounding letter is code, suggesting that the applicant is not a great candidate, even though the letter will not necessarily state this explicitly.

Grammar Matters

Does your cover letter or resume contain grammatical errors or silly typos? Prepare to be relegated to the bottom of the pile. Or even worse, to the recycleing bin. In short: enlist a trusted editor or risk rejection without consideration of substance.

Even though it’s only the end of January, jobs are popping up on School Spring. The Newton School in South Strafford is advertising a music teacher position, Hanover High School needs a photography teacher starting in April, and Woodstock Elementary is looking for math teachers.

Have you updated your resume lately?

Commentary by Kristen Downey

Kristen Downey is UVEI’s Associate Director for Teacher Education.  Her other blogs can be found at http://uvei.edu/blog/332-plan-with-the-end-in-mind and http://uvei.edu/blog/324-why-we-forget-and-why-it-matters-to-teachers

You can follow Kristen on Twitter @UVEIconnect