Top 20 Tips for Landing a Teaching Job

Advice from Real Teachers

Are you seeking a teaching position for next year? If so, you’ll want to check out the responses to this week’s top question on the Teaching Resources Facebook page.

Each Wednesday at 8:30 pm EST, I post the Question Connection announement and teachers ask questions to be shared with the fans of the page. Through the week, I choose a few to feature on Facebook each day, where you’re invited to chime in with your advice. When I see a post that receives a large number of responses, I compile the best answers to create a helpful blog post.

This week’s top question is timely because many new graduates and current teachers are already actively searching for a teaching position for next fall.

Today’s Question

Today’s question comes from Kristal, who writes “I am a new graduate filling out district applications. It seems to be difficult to get interviews. I am substitute teaching, but I would like suggestions on what else I can do to help myself get noticed by the districts?”

Over 100 people responded, and you can read all the suggestions on the original Facebook post. However, since most of you don’t have time to read all of the responses, I selected the top 20 responses to share with you here:

  1. Jamie Rickman: Try to enjoy where you are now. Be the absolute best sub you can be and you will stand out. You will get more and more subbing jobs which will lead to either a long term subbing job and/or a permanent position. In the meantime, I suggest you carry a small notebook (I did) as you sub and jot down great ideas you are lucky to learn along the way.
  2. Donna Pace: When you are subbing, do the very best job that you can do! Teach the class you are subbing if possible, grade any work that students complete, volunteer for extra duties, offer to help other teachers in the school, and leave detailed notes for the teacher you sub for. In other words, go above and beyond what is normally expected of a sub. The word will spread quickly by each teacher you have subbed for, and you will start to earn a good reputation. In addition, as teachers and administrators get to know you better, they will either try to hire you, or they will be more than willing to write you great recommendations. I, too, began my teaching career by substitute teaching, and the experience definitely helped make me a better classroom teacher when I landed my first teaching position. Good luck!
  3. Jenna Allen: I got a job right after I graduated with a “brochure” about myself in addition to my resume and cover letter. It was a snapshot of me, my philosophy and experience. Helped me stand out for sure…. At least that’s what the admin said after I got hired.
  4. Tracy Lott: Volunteer on your off days and ask to “shadow” veteran teachers. Be clever with substitute business cards (“If you’re planning ahead or you’re in a ‘Crunch,’ call _____.” Then staple a mini crunch bar to the card. Teachers love creative stuff like that!) Once you get an interview, send a thank you note to the principal and/or interviewing team afterward. Whatever you do, DON’T tell teachers there’s a better way or this is what I learned in college. Save that for you to use in your own classroom….even if it is a better way.
  5. Jenni DelVecchio: One thing I did was to send a thank you note for the interviews I did get. Thank you for interviewing me and if you would please pass on any notes of items in the interview upon which I could improve… that sort of thing. Never really got back any feedback, but the thank you note is always a nice touch.
  6. Lucas Werner-Salsbury: Know the protocol in the district you are applying. In our district, sending emails to principals, showing up to schools, etc. is frowned upon. Work any possible connections, ensure your cover letter is unique and your resume flawless. Best of luck!!!
  7. Karen Anne: I subbed for three years including a few long term sub positions. If you add just ONE thing, it could make a huge difference – business cards with your photo and quick credentials!! I always left them at the teacher’s desk and left them with the secretaries as well.
  8. April Wolf: Build the relationships with the principals where you sub. If you apply for one of their positions and do not get an interview, be professional and go ask how you can personally grow and improve to stand out. This shows how professional, dedicated and determined you are to teach. Remember one principal not only knows the other principals in their district, but often knows principals in several districts.
  9. Kathy Wagner: Also – consider getting an endorsement or second teaching license. Schools love teachers with additional endorsement/licensure, they get more $ from the state. Endorsements are pretty easy to get, generally you either just take a test to add it or take couple of classes.
  10. Mauri Wilsie: Find the least desirable school in the district and sub there as much as you can. Be professional. Be an outstanding sub. Tell everyone how much you like the school and kids – be a breath of fresh air. When something comes up in the district it will most likely be at that school. You will be on the top of the list.
  11. Cheryl Ann: Sub and volunteer…get your face out there. When you sub, don’t hide in the classroom during lunch and prep. Talk to teachers and see if you can assist them during your prep, unless the teacher has left something for you to do.
  12. Joan Howze: Send or hand deliver copies of your resume to all the principals, too! If you have letters of recommendation, attach copies for them to see. And a cover letter saying why you would like to work at each school (google info to help make it school specific). Good luck!
  13. Evelyn Cummings: First, don’t give up. Send out letters introducing yourself. Make sure you have examples of your work in a portfolio. Yes, we look at them. The interview is key: know the school by doing your homework. Visit their website and let them know how impressed you are and that you can fit in. Most importantly, show enthusiasm and smile. Good luck!
  14. Amy Shook: Another thing you can include with your resume is a video of yourself teaching a lesson (if you have any from student teaching) so you are me than just what’s on paper (include the lesson an for the video lesson as well) – you don’t have to make dvd’s for every application. Post it online somewhere and include a link on your resume!
  15. Tammy Sharpe: I moved from out of state and substituted then took a paraprofessional job. After being passed over for a couple of jobs, I went and introduced myself to the head of HR for our district and the superintendent. I just told them I wanted to let them put a face with a name so that when my application came across their desk, they would have an idea of who was applying. This opened up the conversation and allowed an informal interview situation. Very low pressure. I did dress nicely and put my best interview skills forward. Good luck.
  16. Rheana McCarley: Go to job placement/fairs events if the district offers them. I agree that you should hand deliver your resume or email directly to principals if it’s impossible to hand deliver. Also, try charter and private schools.
  17. Tiffany France: Look for tutoring positions. In the game of high-states assessments a lot of schools will have academic tutors for the way below level students. We moved from Florida to Missouri last year and I found a tutoring position. They asked me to apply for a third grade teaching position for next year. I got the job.
  18. Christy Hackerott: I submitted my letters of recommendation along with my resume. I live in a college town where hundreds of teachers graduate and there would be over 300 applicants for one job. I did get several interviews that way. Also got a job! Good luck!
  19. Shannon Bonner: Know the hot topics in education and be able to converse about them in your interview. Educators love buzz words and references to current teaching theories and practices like Marzano or ESL, Common Core. Be knowledgeable about what you are applying for and what the particular school district is currently using. Also on your resume note what extracurricular activities you’re willing to help out with, I swear being a cheerleading coach gives me more license to do what I want because no one wants to have to take up that job. I also think word of mouth really helps getting your foot in the door. So subbing is a great start but also use any contact you have even if they are just an fb friend. There’s no shame in asking for help, the worst they can say is no.
  20. Kathryn Rasinya-White: As a Principal, I can tell you do not ask to meet with the principal, we get tons of those requests and it is impossible to accommodate during our hectic days. The subs who stand out to me are those who work hard and take good direction from the teacher and try to learn from them, those who build relationships with the students and take pride in remembering their names, those who volunteer their time when help is needed for any task. Those who come in early and who are over prepared just in case. These are the things that will get you in, not a letter, or face time with a principal.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer this question. Your advice and experience is helpful to so many others.If you would like to submit a teacher question, be sure to watch for the announcement on Wednesday evenings at 8:30 pm ET on the Teaching Resources Facebook page.

Great Questions + Advice from Real Teachers = The Question Connection! Enjoy!