The job market is a pretty brutal place for new teachers these days. There are a ton of teaching grads out there and not a lot of jobs. You might get lucky and get a job from placement, but if you don’t, you’ll be out there on the hunt.
What you may not have realized is just how important networking will end up being for your job search process. You probably don’t even feel as though you have much of a network to network with at this point! But here are a few tips and strategies for making the best of where you are, and building up a network that will not only help you get hired but will keep your early career afloat.
1. Apply to places you really want to work.
No one will pluck your file out of the pile if it looks like you’re applying there just as you would anywhere, with no special interest in the gig. Start early and show up at schools for visits. Ask for information. The good ones will reward your interest and be impressed by your initiative.
2. Join a union.
Teachers’ unions are your friends. Join up. Go to the meetings. Attend conferences. You’ll meet tons of educators this way and some of them will even be in a position to hire you, once they have you on their radar. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is free for student teachers to join, so you have no excuse. Get in there and start asking your elders for advice!
3. Seek out like-minded groups of professionals.
Join teacher groups or meet-ups. Stay in touch with former colleagues—plus professors and counselors you’ve worked with in the course of your educational career. Get business cards and make sure you’re giving yours out too. Network your little teacher bottom off and eventually, something good will come of it; the more connections you have, the better off you’ll be.
There are even plenty of online forums for you to check-out if your time or geographical location is limited. And while you’re at it, go to education-related community events to meet your fellow teaching geeks.
4. Volunteer to get noticed.
Volunteer at a school you want to work for, whether in athletics or just doing grunt work for your Associate Teacher. This shows your dedication and interest. Just be sure to commit to your commitment—flaking out will never get you hired. Volunteering is also a great way for you to explore areas of education to which you might not have otherwise been exposed. Who knows, maybe you’ll find an area to pursue that you might not previously have considered.
5. Consider relief teaching.
A lot of new teachers say they built up a reputation by doing relief teaching. It never hurts to get out there and pinch hit—particularly when you can be a hero. Get yourself on the rosters of several schools and keep on networking. This is especially great if fall rolls around and you still don’t have a permanent gig.
6. Keep an open mind.
Remember, you don’t know where your next job will come from. It can often come from the least expected corner of your network. Never turn down a connection because you can’t see how a job could come of it. Embrace everyone and keep your mind open and your resume ready to circulate and you’ll do fine.