According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between 2014-2024 there will be nearly 2 million job openings for teachers in the U.S. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, that number may be different, but the need for great teachers will always be there.
When you’re just starting as a first-time teacher, especially in a post-COVID world, there are a few tips to keep in mind that may make it easier for you to land a job. Having a Bachelor’s degree might not be enough anymore to cut it with competitive districts or those looking for someone who can handle changes within the classroom.
So, what can you do to land your first teaching job and kick off a long and fulfilling career? Let’s take a look at four tips that can help you to get noticed and find a job quickly.
1. Be Adaptable
We probably don’t have to tell you how much the COVID-19 pandemic has changed things. Many schools across the country have either transitioned to virtual learning for the time being, or they are allowing in-person learning with varied restrictions.
Because of COVID, teachers have had to learn to adapt. For years, higher education institutions have been employing asynchronous learning, a method by which students “read, watch, interact with and listen to various types of content at their own pace and complete coursework and take tests at their convenience.” Thanks to the pandemic and more students learning online, many teachers have adopted a similar teaching method, creating plans and lessons that can be completed at students’ own paces.
It’s important to show flexibility and adaptability when you’re trying to land your first job. Your interview(s) may even be held over the phone or on a Zoom call, rather than in person. By showing you’re willing to work for your students, no matter the circumstances, you’re more likely to stand out positively.
It might seem difficult to network right now, but getting online is a great way to get your name out there and get noticed. If you have a particular school in mind that you’d like to work for, do your research. Gather knowledge of that school’s strengths and weaknesses, and talk to the people in the community about your job search. Set up an account on LinkedIn and other social networking sites to connect to people virtually, and eventually, in person. Networking is especially helpful if you’re new to an area or district and you want to get noticed.
Networking can really help you to open doors in a community and can get your name and qualifications into the right hands quickly.
3. Prepare for Your Interview
No matter how your interview is conducted, it’s important to make the right impression. An average in-person interview typically lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour. That’s a very limited amount of time to leave your mark. So, make sure you’ve dressed appropriately, you show up on time, and you prepare for the interview ahead of time.
One of the best ways to do that is to practice answering some of the most common interview questions employers ask. You could even employ a friend or colleague to help you roleplay. Obviously, you won’t know exactly what your interviewer is going to ask, but some basics are usually covered, including questions like:
- What are your goals for the future?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Why are you qualified for this job/why should we hire you?
- What motivates you?
- What challenges have you had to overcome?
You don’t have to memorize or rehearse answers to these questions. But, it’s a good plan to have a basic idea of how you’ll respond. That will keep you from stumbling over words and it will help you to feel more confident.
4. Be Yourself
Throughout the entire search and interview process, it’s important to be yourself and take care of yourself. Don’t feel as though you have to burn yourself out trying to impress prospective employers. As a teacher, being yourself will be one of your biggest assets with your students, so you should adopt that attitude now before your job even begins.
One way to stay true to yourself and avoid burnout is to set small goals throughout the job-hunting process as well as your first year teaching. Those goals could include things like:
- Applying to a certain number of schools
- Landing multiple interviews
- Getting called in for second interviews
- Touring area schools
- Getting involved in a specific community or district
When you know what you’re working toward, you’re more likely to stay true to who you are. Employers will see that, and so will your eventual students.
While this year has been a challenge for nearly everyone in education, and things will likely be different for a while, it’s a great time to become a teacher. Now, more than ever, kids and teens need inspiring educators to get them through these challenging and uncertain times.