by DaLaine Chapman, PhD
Florida Atlantic University

Finding  your first job, or changing to another can be stressful for many reasons. Here  are some helpful hints that will likely reduce the anxiety associated with the  job search and interview experience.

Resume  and Cover Letter: 

  • Resume:  Be very clear and concise. You must think of your resume as YOU on paper. The  person who hires does not know anythingabout  you other than what she is reading on your resume. There are many good  templates online that will help you with the format. Have a trusted,  experienced person read your resume before you send it anywhere.
  • Cover  Letter: Your cover letter explains your background and expands on what you have  written in your resume. It also is a good place to explain your teaching  philosophy. Again, have a trusted, experienced person read your cover letter  before you send it anywhere.

The Application  Process 

  • School  vs. District: School districts accept applications differently so it is best to  peruse the district website for that information. For a district website, you  must have your resume and cover letter ready to upload. There are also  districts that suggest sending your materials directly to the principal via  email, and other districts that may oppose that idea. If you are unsure, and  cannot find the information on the website, check with the Fine Arts Music  Supervisor of the district for clarification.

The  Interview 

  • A  Mock Interview: Sending in your materials to the district and/or principal does  not guarantee you will be called to interview. If this is your first job and  you do get called, make sure that you have gone through a "mock" interview  process first; this is very helpful and will prepare you for the real  interview. A mock interview can easily be done with your university supervisor.

Before the  interview with the principal, make  sure you: 

  • Drive  to the school the day before to see what the estimated time of arrival is and  what the traffic is like during that time of day.
  • Have  a professional outfit ready for the interview. Suit and tie for men; pants  suit, dress, or skirt for women.
  • Print  multiple copies of both the resume and cover letter to take with you.
  • Do  your homework. There is no reason not to know a multitude of facts about a  school. Look online for information such as school grade, test scores,  administration names, percentage of free and reduced lunch, etc. All of that  information is readily available.
  • Make  a list of questions to ask that do not have answers on the school website. Make  sure one of those questions is about the timeline of the decision to hire.

On the day  of the interview, make sure you: 

  • Get  to the school early and tell the front office who you are and why you are there.
  • Have  enough copies of your materials for all administrators in case they all  participate in the interview.
  • Speak  in a measured, comfortable tone, and try to stay away from slang.
  • Put  your phone on silent. SILENT. Do not look at your phone until you get back to  your car, not even in the front office while you are waiting. Use that time to  look at the trophies, pictures, and anything else that tells about the school.

After the  interview, be gracious and thank the principal for her time.

I hope  these tips will help you to navigate through the process of your job search.  One of the most important things to remember is to be persistent and keep your  options open. You may not get the job you initially wanted, but keep in mind  for the future that it is always easier to get a job from a job. Best of luck!