Remember the adage, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. After a 46-year career in public education, 38 as a school and district leader who interviewed thousands of candidates, I believe I can speak with some authority about hiring educators. Be careful about following advice from well-intentioned friends, family and colleagues. Here are a few examples of advice you should not follow, why not, and what you should do.
Seek advice from people who are successful in other fields—NO. Be selective about who may be assisting you. The world of education is quite different than the business world. Private business and public education are culturally worlds apart. Also, be cautious about following the advice of educators who do not have experience in screening and interviewing. Work with a coach who is an experienced school leader. People who give you advice are certainly well meaning, however acting on misguided advice can be a costly mistake.
Put together a standard resume—NO. Do not conform to standard formats. Go beyond what you learned in school. Highlight your special skills and accomplishments; your resume should not look like a job description. Do you have valuable life experiences? Are you fluent or proficient in foreign languages? Have you traveled extensively and developed a deep understanding of world cultures? Can you coach sports or have expertise to run extra-curricular activities?
Bring a Portfolio—NO. Your first screening interview usually will last 10 to 15 minutes. The interviewers are busy people. They will not have time to review your portfolio.
Apply and then wait patiently—NO. You need to be active; passivity doesn’t work. Networking is a key. Contact everyone you know who might have a connection into the school. You may get a courtesy interview—it’s a foot in the door.
Look for geographical regions that are hiring—Perhaps. But be careful. There is a reason why some regions find it difficult to find good candidates. In addition, most of us are unable and unwilling to relocate. It’s difficult and lonely to go somewhere where you don’t know anyone. If you’re adventurous, or have friends or support systems in another region, then consider it. However, you may be in for culture shock.
Dr. Aronstein is a career coach who works with educators in preparing their resumes and preparing for interviews. For more information go to his website: www.larryaronstein.com