Finding a new teaching job after a move can be stressful and exhausting. One of the great things about being a teacher is that teaching is not a location-dependent profession. If your spouse’s job moves you cross-country, if family ties are pulling you back to the area you grew up in after a decade away, or even if you just want a new adventure and decide to move to a new state or even a new continent, chances are there will be teaching jobs there.
Today’s blog post is written by Rebecca Gettelman who is a middle and high school teacher from the Midwest. She has been teaching for over eleven years.
But that doesn’t mean that landing one will be easy. I’ve had major relocations several times in my life and each time finding a job was a bit different. One time I had my pick of multiple job offers; another time I sent out close to fifty applications and only received a call back for one (luckily it was a great position and turned out fabulously).
Strategies For Finding A New Teaching Job
Getting the license and certification that you need in a new place should be your first priority. There are many administrators who won’t look at a resume if the candidate doesn’t have the necessary paperwork from the state/province, even if that candidate has lots of experience and is fully qualified for the position. The state’s/province’s department of education webpage is a good jumping-off point for this information, and you can always give them a call/email with questions.
It may not be your dream job, it may not be full-time, it may not even be as great as the job you are leaving, but if you are offered a job at a school that you would like to work in, seriously consider taking it. Once you have your foot in the door, it is much easier to get the job you want than it would be if you were an outsider. Long-term sub positions, coaching gigs, tutoring – think of them as extended interviews. Make a good impression and you will be first in line for the job you really want in a year or two.
Get Out A Map
If you are unfamiliar with an area, get out a map and start figuring driving times. Consider how far you can (or want) to commute and then find all the schools in that area. The internet and the mapping app on your phone can be a great help here. (Hint: If your mapping app takes into consideration traffic conditions, try setting your alarm and mapping some of the routes during the times you would be driving them. In some areas, the time of day you are commuting makes a huge difference!) Once you have figured all of this out, you can look at which schools have openings and where you want to apply.
Think Outside the Box
I grew up, from kindergarten all the way through college, in an area that had a fabulous and well-established public education system. My first major move was right after earning my teaching degree, and it took me to a place that had a long history of elite private schools and military academies. My second major move took us to a region where Catholic elementary schools were nearly as common as public ones.
When you are looking at the education system in a new place and considering where you want to apply, make sure to ask yourself how education is different where you are moving to compared to where you are coming from.
Don’t let your unconscious assumptions about different types of schools, what they are like, and what is available prevent you from finding a great position.
Where to Search To Find a New Teaching Job
Find out how the schools post openings. Does each school do their own? Each district? Is there a statewide database? Is the database only for public schools or do private ones post there too? If you are looking for something a little less traditional, don’t forget places like Craigslist. When you are talking to the people at the Department of Education about getting your certification, that is a great time to ask how schools advertise openings.
Become More Than Just a Name
Oftentimes there are many great candidates for a position, and the person moving in from out of state with no local connections is not going to easily make it to the top of the pile. You need to make yourself a person and not just a cover letter (even if it is a kick-butt cover letter!). If you can, drop off your application in person. If you can’t, get on the phone. Talk to the secretary about the opening – secretaries are often the eyes and ears of their bosses and the gatekeepers to their administrators’ desks. The secretary at one school I worked at was a champion at getting to know you in an amazingly short period of time; she could get practically your life story (or at least the relevant details) in under five minutes with a few friendly questions. If you got her approval, you had just passed the first round of interviews.
Consider Whether You Can Travel
If there’s any way you can swing it, be open to travelling for an interview and make it clear in your cover letter that you are willing to do so. This lets potential employers know that you are serious about the application and are not just papering every school in the state with your materials. If you are going to be in the area (for instance, to look for housing) and a school has made an initial contact, call and let them know you will be nearby and would love to come in if they are interested.
Make Your Relocation Clear
In talking to principals as well as teachers who have sat on interview committees, I have heard numerous times that an out-of-state or non-local address makes it much harder to get a second look. This can be for any number of reasons including their assumption that you have no ties to the area or that you are just throwing resumes out to anyone who is hiring. One way to at least partially combat this problem is to make the fact that you are relocating to their area clear in your cover letter. Depending on your situation, you may want to explain your reasons for the move and mention your moving date. A sentence or two about how excited you are to be making the move and why the area and/or the school appeals to you can help demonstrate that you are interested in the community for more reasons than just a paycheck and can make you a more appealing candidate.
Having connections in a district can be immensely helpful when finding a job, but when you are relocating, this can be tall order since you are probably leaving most (or maybe you think all) of your networks behind. But don’t just assume that you don’t have any local connections in the new place. Let’s say you are moving for your spouse’s job. Does his new employer know anyone who works in a local district? That is how I got a callback interview after one of our moves. My husband’s new boss found out I was looking, knew the principal at one of the local schools, and knew she was looking for someone with my specialties. He told me about the job and to get my application in, and then he made a phone call for me. I had an interview within 24 hours. It turned out to be one of the best jobs I have ever had.
Think of other networks you have. Put it out on Facebook that you are moving to a certain area and ask if anyone knows anyone in that area. Mention the move at church, among your friends, and even at your current job. You never know who has a cousin or a neighbour or a college roommate who knows someone. If you are a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers, ask on the forums – there’s a global network to tap into at your fingertips right there. Teacher Facebook groups are another great place to ask for connections and information. Look at the education department at your alma mater. Sometimes they have relocation connections for alumni. These networks may not get you a job, but they can get you valuable information about an area and a second look.
Finding a new teaching job in a new area can seem scary and completely impossible, but don’t let it intimidate you. It is a big task and a whole lot of work, and it may take a bit of time to get your feet back under you and find the perfect job, but it is absolutely not undoable. Take the process one step at a time and before you know it, you’ll be teaching again. Listen to my voice of experience. You can do it!