Landing a teaching job for the first time takes patience, time, and hard work. You must have the appropriate qualifications before applying for a teaching position and must show confidence in your skills as well as be able to relate the qualifications/experience you gained in other positions. The different schools, boards, or districts can be unique, which means most teaching jobs require someone who is flexible and can handle classroom changes. Showing or sharing your unique experience will help to distinguish you from other candidates.
Here are a few of our top tips to help you land your first teaching job and kick-start your career:
1. Research and create a resume
It is important to start your job hunt with research on how and where to apply for positions in schools or boards you are interested in. You can start with educational boards' websites, there are plenty of teaching job opportunities available, you just need to know where to look. A good job board can make all the difference in the opportunities that are available for you. Make sure to identify the jobs that interest you and then make note of the requirements for each one. A great way to ensure you include the relevant information in your resume is to save/print the job posting itself so that it is easy to reference when you start drafting your resume.
The created resume must be specific to the job you are applying for. When creating a teaching resume there is some vital information to include, such as your certifications, related skills, personal development, and teaching experience. Remember to reference the job description to look for what the employer is telling you is key information. You can then include that vocabulary to describe your experience. If you find you are struggling to find an opening in your current location, expand your search boundaries geographically, you may be missing something just around the corner from your search area.
Although we believe starting with a resume to be a good rule of thumb, it’s important to remember that you should follow the instructions available in the job posting. Not every job will ask for a resume, they might just want a cover letter, for you to fill out their application or for you to send your information/resume through a specific email address or application system. Be sure to follow the directions in every post, because every school or school board is different.
2. Create a cover letter and show adaptability
Although an essential way of getting an employer's attention is a resume, a cover letter is also crucial. Employers often have a pile of resumes, so it is vital to make yours stand out. Attaching a cover letter to your resume gives you more space to tell your potential employer why you would make the best candidate for the role. Many employers use electronic application systems these days and it is important that you review the vocabulary you are using and cross-reference it with the job description to ensure there is a correlation. The systems will often select candidates who match the position not only through previous experience but also the language used in the resume and cover letter.
The cover letter must be specific to the job you are applying for. In it, make sure to highlight specific teaching accomplishments and other achievements or skills which may not be on your resume and demonstrate the specific experience/skills you have that make you an excellent candidate.
When trying to land a teaching job, you must show adaptability and flexibility. Many teachers had to adapt to virtual or online teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic, and some employers require these skills for all positions going forward. This suggests it is vital to show any technological skills or experience with assistive devices that can be appropriately used in an educational environment regardless of the circumstances.
It is important to remember that you should follow the instructions available in the job posting. If you are not following the directions for an application, that first interaction you have with an employer is not a great first impression. Not every job will ask for a cover letter, they might just want a resume, for you to fill out their application or for you to send your information/cover letter through a specific email address or application system. Be sure to follow the directions in every post, because every school or school board is different.
3. Have an organised portfolio
One of the best ways to introduce achievements and skills is to prepare a professional teaching portfolio. The portfolio is a way to show employers more of your skills beyond a resume. Some employers consider a portfolio to be a vital component of the job interview but it is not always needed or required. However, knowing how to create and use a teaching portfolio gives you an additional medium to showcase your skills and experience. If the posting is not asking for a portfolio then chances are they will not view it, but it can’t hurt to have one ready during the interview process, just in case. It gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your skills and refer to them for examples.
4. Get strong recommendation letters or teaching reports
There usually is a requirement to provide letters of recommendation or teaching reports when applying for teaching positions. These recommendation letters are important and must be from professionals that know you in the education field. The professional can be a recent or former education professor, cooperating teacher, or student teaching instructor.
A solid recommendation letter will help to endorse you for the teaching job because it serves as a testament to your skills. It evaluates your achievements and work habits related to the job you are applying for. You can also use a referee at daycare or camp if that is the most relevant experience you have at the time. Ensure you notify your references of when you have applied for a position and are using their recommendations so that they are prepared if contacted by your potential employer.
5. Volunteer and show transferable experience
Another way to become visible to the employer ahead of other applicants is by volunteering at the school(s) you are interested in working, you can ask the school's administration to help in the library or classroom. You can decide to volunteer at least once or twice a week at the school and thereby show your commitment to the job and allow your employer to get to know you. This also allows you the opportunity to show the employer your transferable teaching experiences, such as leadership, coaching, training, and community commitment which are all valuable qualities in a future teacher.
6. Be an occasional teacher in the school board or district
Being an occasional or supply teacher in the school district is another great way to get the administration's and other teachers' attention. Most teachers start their careers as occasional or supply teachers to gain experience and familiarity with the area they live in, as well as see the environment of various schools in the region. People will often begin as supply teachers while, at the same time, applying for part-time contract positions. This means they will divide their week into two: half of their time will be spent teaching at a specific school/class and the other half they supply teach in a range of classes and grades. This is a very common method of securing a full-time teaching position. Supply teaching helps to open up the window of opportunity at a school. You would apply to be an occasional teacher with the school directly or the school board depending on the process.
You are ready to land your first teaching job!
Landing your first teaching job requires patience and determination to succeed. The internet will be your best friend when it comes to researching and defining the educational posts available in your school board or district, so make sure to check all the jobs we have available right now. Remember to ensure your cover letter and resume relate to the position you are applying for, follow the directions for applying and be confident in what you are bringing to any possible position. We know you have worked hard to get to this point and we believe you have what it takes to land your first teaching job. Follow our tips and be sure to check out the employers that are hiring right now.