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10 Job Search Mistakes Educators Make and How to Fix Them

10 Job Search Mistakes Teachers Make and How to Fix Them

Are you guilty of making these job search mistakes while trying to land a position? If you are, your success may have come to a grinding halt.

Don’t make the same mistakes throughout your job hunt as many school teachers, principals, college instructors, and higher education administrators. If you are making these blunders, get moving and take the steps to rectify the errors to get your job search moving in the right direction.

If your telephone isn’t ringing, it could be because you are accidentally sabotaging your own success. We have compiled a comprehensive list of the common job-search mistakes or obstacles to help you determine if you are guilty of committing any of them.

Don’t Make These Job Search Mistakes

1. No Clear Target Mentioned in Resume

We all know individuals who work in teaching jobs they have grown to hate. They become unmotivated and uninspired with the day-to-day routine. To avoid turning into the “tired teacher”, it is essential you take the time to find a teaching job that merges nicely with your natural skills. Finding a position that works well with your personality and abilities will ensure happiness, satisfaction, and success in your working life.

Target your search and focus on positions that you will find fulfilling. Determine what motivates you, clarify your values, and evaluate the school environment you prefer. Before you begin your job search, you need to know what you are looking for. Being unprepared or unfocused will only increase your chances of being unsuccessful. Don’t let the reader guess what type of position you are interested in. They won’t take the time to try.

2. Using a Standard Application Letter

Have you ever sent out a standard, boring, mass-produced cover letter hoping someone will bite? To be honest, almost every school principal can spot a mass-produced, standardized application letter from a mile away.

A cover letter that is not tailored to the specific educational position you are applying to and does not illustrate the value you can bring to the school will not result in an interview. A cover letter needs to tell your story.

Communicate in the letter how the specific position you’re applying to is the next logical step in that story. The letter should give a school administrator a reason to pick up the phone and call you for an interview. Take the time to read this in-depth post on teaching job application letter writing tips with examples.

Grab the readers attention by tailoring your cover letter to each job posting or position. Respond to a specific job posting by sending a cover letter that matches the job requirements and qualifications. When you are applying to a specific posting, you should always include the posting number (if listed), or your document could end up in the wrong folder or be discarded altogether. Review completed application letter examples if you have time.

3. Using Limited Job Search Methods

If you are ONLY applying to advertised jobs, you are missing out on many possible opportunities. Although your job search should incorporate scanning the internet, district websites, job boards, LinkedIn, newspapers, for job postings, your efforts should not end there.

In addition to applying to advertised postings, you should take advantage of the hidden job market. According to experts, the majority of hires don’t come from online job boards or official application channels. Instead, they come from networking.

If you are job-hunting, make use of your connections, because you never know when you will know someone who knows someone who is looking for a new hire with your exact skill set. Don’t underestimate the power of unsolicited resumes and cover letters – it does work, and it is very effective.

Networking provides you with an opportunity to come face-to-face with potential school administrators and seek out potential teaching job leads. You never know who you may know that could know of an opportunity for you.

Social Media channels are critical to your career and job search. LinkedIn is a great option for connecting with other professionals and building a professional online presence that you can share with others. Review our LinkedIn profile writing service here. Check Twitter for hashtags that are relevant to your field and geographic area, as well as check Facebook for professional networking groups.

4. Sending a Poorly Designed Resume

School districts and principals are bombarded with hundreds of resumes daily. Therefore, it is essential that your resume sets you apart from the competition.   Ensure your resume is clear and concise with one teaching objective that is supported by accomplishments that emphasize the benefits you can bring to the school. Don’t miss our school administrator or teacher resume samples we have on the website.

When preparing your teacher resume, you should also make sure that it is tailored to the position of interest. Check the job posting for resume keywords or other terminology that you can incorporate into your resume. Applicant tracking systems and related pieces of software will screen your education resume and application letter to see if you should make it to the next round of consideration.

Targeting using keywords will help you get passed initial screenings and make it to the hands of a school principal or other hiring manager.

5. Not Include the Right Keywords in Documents

Keywords are specific terms or buzzwords of education and teaching that make it possible for your resume to be successfully scanned by computer software and searched. Keywords are used by schools to weed out unqualified candidates. So when developing your resume, make sure that you include teaching specific terminology blended within the content. Sprinkle the words naturally through the profile and skill summary section and in the work history.

Discover relevant keywords in the job posting, on the district’s website (check to see if they have a page that outlines their mission or vision), and in other community publications. Terminology that will get you noticed at one district may send you to the bottom of the stack for another institution with different needs, goals, or values. Change your resume a little bit depending on the differences in the jobs to which you are applying.

6. Not Including Related Career Accomplishments

Your resume is your personal marketing tool, and keywords and achievements play a vital part. Modesty has no place here! You need to find and include significant, concrete results that you can highlight in your resume. When describing your teaching accomplishments, be sure to use important keywords and statistics to stress the importance of your achievements.

Format your accomplishment-driven resume in a way that will make your accomplishments stand out. Don’t cluster your achievements and responsibilities together. Instead, only write an overview of your responsibilities in paragraph format, and draw attention to your top successes with a list of bullet-points. Bring the principal’s eye or any other reader of your resume to your important selling points.

If your career successes are events you can quantify, that’s an excellent plus. Don’t forget to include something similar to this:

  • Increased class’s math scores on a standardized test by 20% using unique teaching techniques.
  • Did you develop a program that resulted in 76 students enhancing their educational outcomes? Then say that, rather than just noting that you managed a program.

7. Submitting Your Resume to the Wrong Person

Do you have any idea who is reading your educational focused resume?

Sending out your resume blindly without conducting a little research could result in your resume becoming lost or discarded.

It takes a matter of minutes to call the district office of your targeted school. The receptionist will provide you with the proper contact information. Remember to get the correct spelling and title of the hiring individual. Ensuring your resume arrives safely into the hands of the right person is a necessary first step to getting your application reviewed.

Double check the job posting for instructions regarding where to send your application materials. Districts may require you to submit your information via a website. This is a common process.

Other job advertisements might give the name of a contact person or a particular address to which the documentation should be submitted. If the posting contains specific information about where to send the application and you don’t follow it, the hiring committee could disregard your application because it wasn’t addressed to the appropriate person or office.

8. Not Preparing for the Interview

Preparing for your interview may take a small investment in time, but it will make all the difference. Good interview preparation will also help you combat nerves. Before you attend your interview, you should research the prospective school and school district. Find out the size of the school, key objectives and mission, and any recent news.

Once you have completed your school research, prepare to communicate your importance through your achievements. Inspect your career for relevant examples on how you increased student achievement, improved success rates, accommodated special education students, or piloted new programs or curriculum.

Remember, you are selling your strengths to this school; investing a little time in preparation will ensure a successful interview. Your ability to demonstrate how your accomplishments match the department, campus or district’s needs may be the difference between an offer or rejection.

9. Not Asking Questions During the Education Interview

At the end of an interview, the potential employer will ask if you have any questions for them. 

Avoid asking questions that may have already been answered earlier, or that are addressed on the school’s website. If you do ask questions that could have been answering through a source, it would indicate you did not take the time to prepare for the interview or don’t listen well. These questions will show your interest in the school and how well prepared you are for the interview. Make sure the questions are brilliant and targeted.

As you prepare for the interview, it’s smart to come up with a list of questions in advance. Plan for more questions than you anticipate you’ll have time to ask, as some may be answered over the course of the interview. Check-off questions that are answered earlier in the process, and you’ll be left with a good list of questions to get a better idea of what to expect from the role and to gain a better understanding of the culture on campus.

10. Fail to Follow-Up

Once you have completed your educational interview, it is essential to follow-up with a thank-you letter to the person who interviewed you. Send this letter within 24 hours after the job interview. If a panel or committee interviewed you, one thank you letter will suffice, addressing it to the individual supervising the recruitment process. Thank the person for the interview, and ask that your appreciation is communicated to the other committee members.

Ideally, you’ll have time later in the day to craft and mail a thoughtful thank-you note that reminds the hiring manager of why you are a great fit for the job.

If that won’t be manageable due to a range of commitments, you can begin a thank-you note before the interview.  Add a couple of sentences to the end that describes a specific interaction to finish off the letter, and then drop it in a mailbox or at a post office on your way home from the interview.

If, after two weeks, you have not heard from the school, it is perfectly acceptable to send a follow-up letter indicating your continued interest.  The interviewer or committee members may be having difficulty in making a decision.  Your letter could be the key to finalizing their decision.

How many of these mistakes have you made in your job search? Click To Tweet

How many of these mistakes have you made in your job search? What can you change to make sure you don’t make the same error?

By avoiding these mistakes and instead of following the tips in this article, you should be well on your way to acing that interview and landing that job.

Prepare for your next interview by knowing more about the questions you can expect to answer by downloading our Ultimate Teacher’s Job Interview Crib Sheet.  If you’d like one-on-one help with your resume, you can view our resume services here.