When it comes to practical advice for new teacher graduates who are hoping to find a job, it's important to gain experience and develop skills that make you stand out. In the spring, principals and/or human resource officers receive hundreds of applications for teaching jobs, especially at the elementary level. When I was a principal, I usually divided those applications into two groups. In the first group were applicants with experience and those applying for positions that are often difficult to fill—higher math, physics, some foreign languages, and special education. The second group was composed of everyone else.
If you're a new teacher looking for a job, while the process can be daunting, keep in mind that not everyone in the first group turns out to be an outstanding candidate. Schools inevitably end up hiring a number of people from the second group. So if you're part of that group, there are ways to distinguish yourself from all other first-year applicants.
Build Your Experience Working with Kids
Many experienced administrators know that the biggest challenge new teachers face is classroom management. Estimates vary, but according to the Washington Post, the most recent federal data suggests that nearly 20 percent of teachers leave the profession within four years. A major reason might be that teachers find that the theory they studied in college doesn't necessarily align with the practice of daily teaching. As such, the people doing the hiring often look for candidates who have other experiences working with kids in addition to student teaching.
Further reading: 4 More Tips on Making a New Teacher Resume Stand Out
Some colleges offer internships, classroom observations, or other practicums to add to a prospective teacher's experiences. Take advantage of these opportunities because the more time you spend in a real classroom, the better you'll understand how it works. If your college doesn't offer these opportunities (and maybe even if it does), find other ways to work with kids. Volunteer to coach a team, be a big brother or sister, tutor at an after-school program, or help out with your local Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts troop. Not only will these activities give you more interactions with kids, but they look great on your resume and show that you like kids and spending time with them.
Develop Other Skills and Knowledge
Being able to list additional activities with kids on your resume will help your chances. But an even greater plus is to have a second certification or specific skill that few other candidates have. For example, a second certification in special education greatly enhances the resume of a first-year applicant these days. Even if you're not applying for a special education teaching job, these additional skills and knowledge will be seen as useful. Another plus at the elementary level is a strong concentration in reading. Language skills, including sign language, can enhance your candidacy, and some schools are specifically looking for candidates who can speak both English and Spanish. If you've played a college sport and are willing to coach, you may have an advantage. The ability and willingness to sponsor an activity like chess, yoga, or theater may also be seen as helpful.
Further reading: 3 Tips for Finding Summer Jobs for Teachers
As you finish your college work, you'll want to think about what schools are looking for and what you can offer that sets you apart from other candidates. While you may be an excellent teacher, the first goal of your application process is to be selected for an interview. So my advice for new teacher graduates hoping to land a job is to make sure you have appealing experience and skills that will make your resume float to the top of the stack.