The Importance of Job Search Networking for Educators
Job search networking can be a very powerful tool when it comes to developing key contacts and acquiring your dream job. By gaining the right resources you can discover new job opportunities, get your foot in the door where it may have been otherwise impossible, and minimize the time it takes to land an interview.
Networking is the number one way to land a teaching job. The majority of teaching jobs are found through some form of networking. Also, the caliber of jobs found through networking tends to be better and more coveted. A personal connection to a school or principal is the best way to get your resume on the top of the pile. To prove just how effective networking is, think about ten of your employed friends. How many of them got their jobs through a form of networking versus the traditional approach? I bet you find that networking far outweighs the traditional methods.
Career networking is not as scary as it sounds, actually it is quite user friendly. Your “network” is everyone you come in contact with on a daily basis. Whether it is in person, by phone, or e-mail, whoever you see or talk to is part of your network. This can include your colleagues, neighbors, family, college associates, friends, store clerks, or your mail carrier. Simply put, networking is just talking to those around you. You can use this network to get the word out that you are looking for a new career adventure. Through simple conversation with those around you, you may get an opportunity you would not have gotten otherwise.���
Having contacts within certain districts can also help you with learning more about the school community. They can give you the scoop about the students, parents, staff, the work environment, etc. to help better prepare your application as well as your interview. Who better to talk to about the job than with someone you know and who has an inside edge? Networking is the best way to access otherwise inaccessible people, like principals in important school districts or charter schools.
Another great advantage of networks is that it is a two way street. It’s a circle of friends who help each other to improve their careers. When you help others, others will help you. Everyone likes people who are helpful — so good things will likely come towards you if you are helpful in others’ job searches. Lastly, remember that in every social situation you are in, make sure that people leave knowing who you are, what you do, and how to get a hold of you. Opportunities come from unexpected places and when you least expect them. You never know who you may talk to that could need your skills. For this reason, make sure you keep your education resume handy.
If you are looking to add people to your job network, make sure it is a natural process. Do not come across as transparent or aggressive. Remain polite, professional, and sincere. Be genuine when getting to know these new individuals. Take the time to find out about them and offer help when possible. In turn, tell them about yourself, and highlight your education, experience, skills, and career goals. Make sure to copy down their full name and contact information or ask for a business card. Offer your information as well.
Adding to your job network can be done in person, on the phone, and online. There are many online sites and forums for educators, such as LinkedIn. You can develop great contacts on these forums, especially if you have expanded your job search to a wider geographical location. Make sure to offer appropriate advice within the forums, and thank others for their information and opinions. This demonstrates you are willing to communicate and collaborate, as well as refine your teaching skills and discover new information and techniques.
When looking to make contact with someone in certain schools, first create a list of potential districts/schools. Do some research on each district: determine the most appropriate individual to speak with and learn about the school's vision, strategic plans, and future goals. Then, create a list of questions based on this research. Your questions should show your understanding of each district, including the scope of its student body, programs, facility members, etc. They should be specific and should relate to the type of position you are interested in and their available jobs.
Once you have made successful contact with someone within a district, follow through with a simple thank you letter indicating that you are grateful for the opportunity to speak with the individual and that you are particularly interested in working for their district. After sending off your letter, wait a few weeks and follow-up with a telephone call, restating your interest in the district.
Structured Networking Events:
There are several structured, formal networking events that you can choose to take part in to help you network with other education professionals and leaders in the field. The formal method includes attending meetings, association events, job fairs, or other gatherings that have been put on by a university, organization, or other institution. For instance, if school districts are looking to recruit individuals for several positions, they may hold a recruitment fair. This is a great opportunity to meet administrators and teachers, discover the district’s unique goals and needs, and market yourself.
Introduce yourself to as many people as possible while you are there. Do not limit your conversations to the administrators; converse with instructors and support staff as well. Express your desire to teach, list your credentials and/or experience, and convey how thrilled you are to be part of this function. Bring along business cards and/or resumes to pass out to potential employers. Conduct a cold call and do a follow up a few days after the recruitment fair. Remember to be polite and professional at all times, whether in person, on the phone, or by email.
Maintain your Network:
If you are not looking for a job at the moment, it is still important that you maintain your network list, adding to it when you can. You may ask, "Why do I need a networking list when I'm not looking for a new career?" The answer is that networking puts you in a winning position and keeps you "on the inside" with individuals who can make things happen. Maintaining contact with your developed network will allow you to take advantage of any future opportunities that may arise.
Good networking is vital to your job seeking success; always maintain good relationships with your contacts and keep in touch with the new people you meet on your journey.
Tips for Great Networking:
- Show sincerity
- Be true to your word
- Be polite and formal
- Respect people's time
- Do not expect payback
- Treat referred friends with care
- Introduce yourself-don't wait to be introduced
- Always say thank-you
- Be available to help others — Reciprocate!
If you have a strong lead, do not be shy to follow it. You never know where a job opportunity may spring up. In case you do land a job because of a lead, make sure you thank the person who referred you. A nice gesture such as a small gift (coffee at Starbucks, etc.) or a thank you card would be appropriate.
Career networking is not as instant as sending out your resume to hundreds of employers online, but it can be more effective. If you have ever tried sending out your resume online, you may get responses but your chances are slim and if you do get a response, how promising will it be? Thousands of other people are competing for the same job.
Job search networking will ensure that you are not met with such a voluminous amount of competition. Furthermore, being referred by someone helps your chances of landing the job, provided they have a great reputation. They can put in a good word for you while your computer screen cannot.
Even if you are happily employed, you should keep your network up-to-date. You never know if or when you will need to get in touch with a particular person. Keep in touch with such simple gestures as an e-mail, birthday wish, or holiday card. When possible, offer what you can from your area of expertise to them. By helping them, they will be more apt to help you if the need arises, plus it is the courteous thing to do.
Happy job search networking!