Yup! Hunting season! And by that, I mean JOB hunting season! We teachers are a lucky bunch in that job openings in our profession come around only once a year (for the most part. Occasionally you can get lucky and score a long-term sub position during the rest of the year that might result in a permanent position, but one shouldn’t count on it).
Actually, I guess it would be fair to say that jobs open up twice a year. Once in the springtime and once again in the summer when schools who have lost their teachers to springtime openings are now scrambling to fill their vacated positions by September. But again, one should not count on getting a job this late in the hunting season (although two of my jobs did fall on my lap during this time. I guess I was lucky like that. I haven’t been since, so I’m not holding out this time. Springtime hunting it is!).
If you’ve ever been involved in the hunt, you know it is very time consuming and a pain-in-the-ass of a process. It requires you to be organized and on top of things. Job searching as a teacher isn’t like job searching in another profession. You can’t get by with just a stellar resume and cover letter. Here is a quick breakdown of the most common items needed when applying for teaching jobs:
- Updated Resume
- Job Specific Cover Letter
- Job Application Specific to the School or School District
- School Transcripts (from every higher ed institute you’ve ever received credit from)
- A Copy of Your Certification
- Three Letters of Recommendation
- A Portfolio (if you’re an art teacher, this may also contain your artwork as well as student artwork. Some schools like to see your work, others could care less, but you should always be prepared)
- TB Test Results (a requirement for some schools, especially those in more populated areas)
I’m sure I’ve left a few things out. I find it’s best to get all these ducks in a row before you start applying for jobs, which means, if job openings are being posted in April (which seems to be the hot month), you should probably start gathering all this stuff now.
Transcripts and letters of recommendation are probably the hardest to get your hands on.
Some school districts will accept unofficial transcripts, but most require official transcripts, which take time and quite often, money to acquire. Many colleges require that you make transcript requests in writing, but some have switched to a more convenient online request form. Many colleges have eliminated the fees for obtaining official transcripts, but some still ask anywhere from $3-$12 per transcript. Remember, it’s best to have many on hand, especially if you are unsure of how many jobs you’ll be applying to. I usually request at least five at a time and ask that they be mailed to me.This way, I don’t have to wait for the colleges to get around to mailing the transcripts to the school districts. As long as the transcripts remain officially sealed, most school districts are okay with receiving them from you instead of the colleges.
Letters of recommendation (LoRs) are trickier. I have my three go to supervisors that I always ask for letters from. I know some job seeking teachers who always get copies of their LoRs so they have them on hand, eliminating the need to 1. request them and 2. wait for them to make it to the school district you’re applying to. In theory, this is a good idea, however, I tend to avoid doing this. For one, I would hate too submit outdated LoRs. Some school districts require that your LoRs be delivered to them officially sealed, which means you can’t read them, which means you don’t know whether or not your former supervisors have dated them or included any information specific to a previous job search. Of course, you can always be prepared and request a general LoR, that isn’t for a specific job and that you can just photo copy for every job you end up applying for. On the other hand, some school districts you apply to may require that LoRs be submitted on a specific LoR form that they have. These are usually included in the application packets and have some specific questions for your supervisors to answer, as well as an area for them to write a note of recommendation.
So, how you go about obtaining your transcripts and LoRs is entirely up to you. I think it is always a good rule of thumb to have copies of official transcripts on hand. If you’re applying to jobs with plenty of time before the deadline, I would recommend requesting specific LoRs. However, if you’re cutting it close, and the deadline is fast approaching, you may want to have some general LoRs on hand to pop in the application packet right away. With up to 300 or 400 job applicants per opening, most school districts won’t even consider a candidate with an incomplete application packet, regardless of how great of a teacher you are.
Stay tuned for some future tips on the job hunt as I am currently going through this process (again). If you have any questions or any tips you’d like to add, comment away! Happy Hunting!