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.
- 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!