Public School Job Search
Educators Expo will not be helpful to everyone. If the school systems in which you are interested are not coming on-Grounds to recruit, or if you are moving to another state, you will need to conduct your job search independently. However, UCS has a number of resources to help you in your job search efforts. This step-by-step plan should help you to organize your efforts.
Target Your Search Area
- Geographic targeting:
If you know you are relocating to a certain geographic area, then this step is already done for you. Research cities or communities in which you feel interested—real estate relocation specialists are excellent sources of information, not only about the community, but also about the schools and the school districts in the area. Most large real estate agencies have relocation specialists; check the phone books of the communities in which you are interested to identify the larger agencies. In addition, UCS has several resources which provide information on cities and communities, including such factors as transportation, climate, recreation, cultural activities, cost of living, and more. The Places Rated Almanac and Cities of the United States are two excellent sources of information. SchoolMatters.com is a great compilation of statistics on all U.S. public schools where you can compare districts and/or individual schools in a district side-by-side.
- Job availability targeting:
If you are not restricted geographically, it will help you to choose certain areas in which to focus your search. Since you cannot possibly apply for every available teaching job everywhere, you will need to narrow down your 'target' in order to focus your energy and attention, thereby conducting a much more effective job search. If you are geographically flexible, the best approach is to 'go where the jobs are.' You might want to research which areas of the country are experiencing the most population growth—these would be areas to target since jobs come with population growth, including teaching jobs. Consult a reference librarian to determine sources of such information (e.g. government documents, certain periodicals, popular magazines such as Newsweek, etc.). The publication, 'National Educators Employment Review,' which you can find in the UCS library, is an excellent source of job listings in public education, as well as information on salaries, hiring trends, etc. The American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) also produces an annual Education Job Search Handbook—available in UCS's library.
- School characteristics targeting:
A final way to focus your job search is to consider school district characteristics. Do you prefer an urban, rural or suburban setting? A large, medium, or small sized school district? You may want to research school districts which are known for certain philosophies or strategies which are consistent with your own, or ones which are implementing special new programs. Once again, a search of the popular literature can be one of the best ways to identify such schools. Also, reading your professional journals and noting the educators involved in interesting projects can help you to target their locations. Again, SchoolMatters.com is a great compilation of statistics on all U.S. public schools where you can compare districts and/or individual schools in a district side-by-side. Consider checking the local newspaper for up-to-date school information -- education is a big topic for the media to cover.
Once you have determined your focus area, identify the public school systems located within a reasonable commuting distance of where you think you would live. If you are not very familiar with the area, you should consult a good map which lists not only the cities and towns, but also shows the county lines. Then utilize Career Search (in UCS) or Market Data Retrieval's (MDR) set of directories (one for each state; available in the Curry School library or in the UCS library) to get a list of all the school districts in that area. It is important to determine the structure of the school systems in your target area and the way in which their hiring is conducted. For example, in Virginia, the counties are the school districts. However, in some states, such as Pennsylvania, there can be numerous school districts within one county. You must determine whether you should apply to each school district individually or to a central hiring authority. A state's Department of Education is an excellent place to find the answers to these types of questions—many of them have their information available via the Internet.
Review materials online about each school of interest; call to enquire about their hiring timeframe and when it's best to submit the application. Again, if you have not already done so, you might also call local Chambers of Commerce in the area and/or local realtors for information about school districts for people relocating to the area. U.Va. alumni may also provide useful information—check Alumni Career Services.
Apply for Certification
If you are moving out of Virginia, you will need to apply for teacher certification or licensure in the state to which you are moving. Even if Virginia has reciprocity with that state, you are not automatically certified there—you must apply and be approved by the State Department of Education. You can find certification requirements and contact information for the Department of Education in each of the fifty states in Requirements for Certification in the Curry School library or in the white section of he UCS library. You can also find a list of the reciprocity agreements among the fifty states in a binder labeled 'Interstate Reciprocity Agreements' or in a book called 'NASDAQ's Certification & Reciprocity Manual'—both in the Curry School library and the white section of the UCS library.
Although your application for certification will not actually be processed until you have successfully completed all aspects of your program (i.e. until you graduate), it is advisable to contact the state certification office prior to applying for jobs. By doing so you can confirm that you have met (or will have upon graduation) all the state's requirements or are aware of any deficiencies and can move towards fulfilling them. Some states may have a physical education requirement, a local/state history requirement, or their own state teacher's exam, for example, which would not automatically be built into your program here at U.Va.. If you are aware of these factors when you begin contacting employers you can reassure them that you are knowledgeable about their system and are proceeding toward obtaining certification and will be ready and able to begin work in August or September.
Apply to School Systems
Send your completed application form, a resume and cover letter, and any other required materials (a copy of your transcript, your letters of recommendation, etc.) to the school systems in which you are interested. You should send your application to the Director of Personnel, if there is one, or the Superintendent (if there isn't a Personnel Director). It is helpful to send as much as you can in one package. The items that you are unable to send directly should be mentioned in your cover letter, stating that you have requested that the responsible parties send them. (For example, if you have requested that the Registrar's Office send a copy of your transcript, it might be helpful to mention in your cover letter the date you made that request.) Also let them know that your application for certification in that state is already in progress. Again, be sure to remove any possible 'roadblocks' and assure the school system that you will be ready to begin work as soon as possible.
This is a critical step! It is very important that you periodically contact the employers to whom you've sent applications in order to communicate your continued interest and to stay up-to-date with where they are in the hiring process. Each contact you make with employers is another opportunity for you to make a good impression and to keep your name foremost in their minds. This is also an opportunity to be sure they have received all your application materials and that there is nothing holding up the process from your end. If there is any possibility for you to visit the area to which you hope to move, take advantage of the opportunity. Call the school district prior to your visit, explain that you will be in town visiting and would appreciate the opportunity to meet with someone in the personnel office and to perhaps visit some of the schools.
It is not advisable to request an 'interview,' particularly if it is early in the hiring season (i.e. prior to March); many school districts will be uncertain of their needs and could be unwilling to 'waste' time interviewing you. However, if you approach the contact as an informational interview (a chance for you to learn more about them), you may meet with more success. Your primary goal in the out-of-state job search is to make it as easy as possible for the employer to hire you. Anything you can do to facilitate the process (e.g. you bear the travel expenses, you make the long distance phone calls, etc.) will greatly increase your chances of getting hired.
If you are a SVEA member, the Uniserve director for the geographic areas to which you are relocating will be an excellent source of assistance (see a SVEA officer for contacts.)
Consider contacting colleges in your target areas; their school of education or Career Services office may be able to give you insight into the local school districts and their hiring practices. They might also have job vacancy postings you could access when visiting (or could have a friend or relative in the area check for you). In addition, these colleges could be organizing events like U.Va.'s Educators Expo which might be open to the general public. If interested in the East Coast, UNC's Education Job Fair (in Chapel Hill) is an excellent one to attend—it is always open to other schools and many recruiters participate (check out Chapel Hill's Web site for more information).
State education associations as well as individual school districts also sponsor education job fairs so it may be worthwhile to also check with the State Dept. of Education or the State Association for School Personnel Administrators. A simple call to the district asking about which fairs they plan to attend can help you in determining which event will be most productive for you considering your job search. Attending education job fairs is an important strategy in meeting many recruiters in one setting.