Job Search Tips for Experienced Teachers
Experienced teachers are the backbone of any school district. They are the ones who mentor new teachers and chair committees, and they handle the difficult-to-teach students. All of those years of experience have built a reservoir of knowledge and strength that cannot be denied.
However, when it comes to looking for a teaching job in a new district, that hard-earned experience can be a double-edged sword. Like most things, it comes down to finances. Experienced teachers are more expensive than recent graduates. This doesn’t mean an experienced teacher is stuck; it just means you have to be smart in how you approach your job search.
How you sell that experience makes all the difference. In fact, there are four key strategies you can use to increase your chances of landing a new job:
1. Start networking well before you apply. If you know ahead of time that you’ll be looking to change districts, try to create some authentic connections within your target districts well before the spring hiring season gets underway. Luckily teachers are a social bunch, so this shouldn’t be too difficult. Contact some teachers in your discipline via social media or email and open the door to some collaboration. Ask questions or offer help — just be you. In other words, build bridges that you can use to cross into new lands when the time is right.
2. Focus on bigger districts. For the most part, the bigger the district is, the more flexibility they will have in their payroll. Additionally, in many larger districts, the person doing the screening and interviewing is not the same person who is in charge of the finances. Principals choose the candidate, and the HR department deals with the finances. This means that the biggest hurdle an experienced teacher faces — being too expensive — is eliminated.
3. Let your experience shine. You have something all of those new graduates don’t — years of accumulated experience doing all sorts of school related activities. You’ve run student council. You’ve helped write a school improvement plan. You helped students start an anime club. Teachers do more than teach. Schools are always looking for more than just a math or English teacher. They are looking for a new member of their community. The more you bring to the table, the more likely they’ll be to bite. So, use all of that experience to your advantage and really sell yourself.
4. Think beyond the traditional classroom. A successful teacher has a gold mine of transferable skills. Communication skills, organization skills, the ability to multi task, not to mention your content knowledge, are all vital skills that can be put to use outside the traditional school setting. You have a wealth of experience; maybe it is time to expand your definition of teaching.
There are a number of nontraditional teaching roles that you could very well be qualified for, such as becoming a corporate trainer, a manager in an educational media company or a development specialist. Want to stay closer to home? Why not look into becoming an educational consultant and work with other teachers to improve instructional delivery?
Looking for a new position is never easy, but with a little planning and the right strategy, you can find the job you’ve always wanted.
Steve P. Brady is a teacher and educational career consultant specializing in resumes for teachers.