How to Make Your Appearance at an Education Career Fair Spectacular!
Education job fairs are starting to pop up in various locations and will be increasing in the months to come — it's that time of the year. Education job fairs are a goldmine for excellent employment opportunities and if you are not prepared you will easily miss out on job offers or chances to attend formal interviews. You may ask, "What are the benefits of attending a career fair?" There are three main reasons — to find out what job opportunities are available, to network with other job seekers to find openings, and to obtain more information about certain school districts. It can be a frustrating experience if you fail to prepare, so follow these few tips to increase the odds of success at the next teacher job fair you attend:
Research the school districts that will be present.
Before you even head out to a job fair, make sure you know what school districts will be present. Research the particulars of each district by visiting their website. You will more than likely be asked the question: "Why do you want to work for our school district?" It is critical you have a solid response, or you may be screened out of the interviewing process. Find out what makes the district unique… what are the demographics, their mission statement, key personnel, etc.
Once you have pinpointed the school districts you want to interview with, make sure you know what type of teacher they are looking for and what particular skills are required. This will allow you to target your strengths to match the district's needs. Create a priority list of the ones that interest you the most, this will help you priority, so you don't run out of time. Make a list of the details you found out about each school district… then just prior to approaching their table/booth, review your notes, so you don't mix up information. I can't stress it enough — going unprepared to a job fair will decrease your effectiveness as a job seeker and ultimately landing a position.
What do you want out of the job fair?
Once you have answered this question you can prepare yourself appropriately. Are you just going to see what kinds of opportunities are available in the current job market or are you just doing research or networking? Once you have established which category you fall into, then you can mentally prepare yourself by doing the proper research on each school district you want to seek out.
Whatever your objective is, you must dress the part. If you are a male, then slacks and a collared shirt are appropriate, a suit may be better. If you are a woman, a nice blouse and blazer, along with slacks or skirt are appropriate attire. Make sure your clothes are clean and ironed and your shoes polished. This is not a party so anything too short, too tight or too revealing is not appropriate. No excess jewelry, outrageous hairstyles, overbearing perfume or hairspray. Keep the saying in mind, first impressions count!
Prepare yourself to answer questions.
This is a vital stage, because if you can't answer questions concisely, informatively and with enthusiasm you will be screened out. Recruitment personnel need to evaluation you in a very short time, so prepare a two minute commercial about yourself. Your commercial will need to sell a product and that product is you — what value can bring to the school district and how will you ensure students are successful.
Examples of questions that may be asked are:
- Tell me a little bit about yourself.
- What grade level do you wish to teach and why?
- Why do you want to work for our school district?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What teaching strategies do you find most useful?
Remember, the competition is tough for education jobs and every interview only has one winner. To get hired you need to be fully prepared and not make the same mistakes other candidates are. It's really quite simple to do and if you're serious about it this information will help you.
Have your question list ready.
Once you have pinpointed the school districts that have jobs available that you are interested in and qualified for, prepare a few questions that you would like answered by the school district representative. Examples of questions are:
- Could you provide me with idea of what you are looking for in a successful candidate?
- Are there immediate openings in your school district? If so, in what areas? If not, do you anticipate opening in the future?
Make sure your resume and cover letter are in tip-top shape.
In other words, a good resume and cover letter are your ticket to your dream job. Let me ask you, would you give your resume and cover letter an A+? Are you really proud of your teacher resume? Are you really proud of your cover letter?
Make sure you include the skills you feel make you a unique catch. Your resume gives the prospective employer a tangible means to remember you by. If you make a good impression on the representative and your resume is current and unique, you have a solid chance of getting a job interview.
Make sure you highlight results and accomplishments, rather than what you think you can do. It's becoming more and more important for teachers to show that they HAVE produced excellent results; this will indicate to the reader that you can do it again. When you create your resume, make sure that you include specific examples of your successes. Use the C.A.R. approach: What was the challenge, the action you took, and the result? This will clearly explain your accomplishment. Achievements sell and so look at your resume, does it include this important component?
Use the latest teaching industry buzz words. This will show you are staying current in your profession and increase the odds of your resume getting read by a personnel manager. If your resume is scanned, it needs to include these keywords, if it doesn't it will likely not reach the human eye. Likewise, keep abreast of the latest developments in education so you can tailor your resume and cover letter to these trends.
And visual appeal is vital — your resume needs to stand out from the crowd. There are some position openings that have over 1000 applicants. Look at your resume would it pique the interest of the reader, does it make you say WOW! If not, you will be excluded from the invitation to interview for the teaching position. You can view our sample resumes and cover letters here.
Many times, if you do not update you resume regularly and hastily revise it before a job fair, as simple as it may seem, you can overlook your contact information. Make sure your resume includes your current and accurate contact information, including address, phone number and email address. You do not want to miss out on an opportunity because an employer can not get a hold of you. Triple check your contact details for accuracy. Good luck at your next teaching job fair and remember to always show passion and enthusiasm.