5 Tips for Landing Your First Teaching Job

Teaching is often considered an in-demand profession. Depending on your location, though, getting your first teaching job can be challenging. Regardless, finding the best fit for you takes preparation, networking, and creativity. Land your first teaching job by following these five tips.

1. Be search savvy.

Know where to look for teaching jobs and how to apply. To search most efficiently, find education databases and the websites of regional school districts or boards of education. Attending job fairs is also a good idea.

Identify jobs outside of the traditional public school system by researching nonprofit organizations such as teach for America, private or alternative schools, and cyber schools.

Check the requirements for each job posting you find, and tailor your application materials to that particular position. In general, you will need a resume, cover letter, teaching philosophy, professional references, certification documents, and child abuse clearances. You should also have a portfolio ready to share.

2. Build an irresistible portfolio.

Your teacher preparation program likely focused on helping you amass an impressive collection of artifacts from your studies in education and classroom experiences. Make sure this portfolio is attractive and rich with proof of your enthusiasm for teaching and knowledge of what makes a great teacher.

Ask your student teaching supervisor and other trusted teaching professionals to review your portfolio and offer feedback. Take their suggestions for what they would look for in the portfolio of a new hire.

Also, convert your portfolio into an electronic format so you can easily share it online. You will bring the hard copy to interviews, but you can easily share the online version with prospective employers across the country.

3. Make connections.

Like all professionals, teachers benefit from networking in a number of ways. Most obviously, connect with people who can hire you or recommend you to someone who can. Therefore, keep in touch with your professors and student teaching supervisor. At this point in your career, they know your knowledge of your subject area and ability to teach best.

Other ways to network include joining professional teaching associations, attending conferences and workshops, and joining social networks and other online groups for educators. Substitute teaching also is an ideal way to expand your network.

4. Be a super sub.

Make money, make yourself known, and make yourself indispensable by substitute teaching. Most substitute teaching jobs require only a bachelor’s degree and certification or emergency certification. Most school districts are desperate for substitute teachers to cover classrooms, and they often hire from the best of their loyal sub pool.

Stand out from other subs by dressing and acting professionally, treating each assignment seriously, leaving an organized report for the teacher, and becoming involved in the school. Be prompt, punctual, and willing to help, and principals will recognize you as an invaluable resource.

5. Stretch your boundaries.

If you still haven’t been hired, you may have to expand it geographically. Some areas of the country have teacher shortages, and others have surpluses. In general, struggling urban and rural schools have a harder time attracting and retaining teachers than affluent suburban schools. The more schools need teachers, the more likely they are to hire new teachers with no formal classroom experience. This means you will probably need to broaden your search, and you may even have to relocate to an area that’s hiring.

Improve your chances of landing your first teaching job by making yourself an appealing candidate that stands out from other novice teachers. Ensure your application materials and portfolio shine to get an interview, and do as much as you can to be visible to prospective employers. With careful preparation and a focused search, you improve your chances of finding not only your first teaching job but also one that is a perfect fit for you.