Career & Education

Trained teacher can't find work - Pt 2

Sunday, October 14, 2018

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Dear DC:

In the last issue, we encouraged you to identify and package those relevant teaching experiences that you have had. We'd like to add that you should also recognise and highlight the transferrable skills that you've developed from your temporary jobs.We will also focus on possible approaches you can use to design your job search strategy.

 

Steps for an effective job search

i. Prepare application — Begin by preparing your generic cover letter and résumé. When the time comes, remember to tailor them for each prospective job opportunity.

ii. Sharpen your interview skills — Anticipate and practise likely general and discipline-related interview questions. Whether the interview setting is formal or informal, always be prepared to demonstrate that you have the required competencies and employability skills.

iii. Scan the job market — Understand what qualities (technical, employability, work ethic, co-curricular) principals are seeking in new teachers and what challenges schools are currently facing.

iv.Self-assessment — Be honest with yourself. Identify the gaps that exist between what principals may be seeking and what you already have to offer. Determine what steps you will take to fill those deficiencies.

v. Improve job skills — For example, right now in Jamaica there is the shift in the primary curriculum and assessment modality from Grade Six Achievement Test to Primary Exit Profile (PEP). How prepared are you for this new paradigm? An excellent way to improve your competence and gain experience is to volunteer. In pursuit of this, do not approach the school and say, “I am seeking to volunteer to gain experience.” Instead, offer your service to fill a specific need the school has. For example, you could say, “Recognising that many students have performed below expectation on the recent PEP pilot test in maths, and having specialised training in the teaching of primary maths with advanced competencies in the development of math learning games, I will make myself available for two hours per day to assist your students with understanding mathematical concepts.” Additionally, note that volunteering does not necessarily mean you have to devote entire workdays.

vi. Identify job leads — Good places to find job leads are local newspapers, the career and placement office of your past institution, job boards (including the ministries responsible for education and labour), schools' websites, and social media ( LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and Facebook tend to be very effective). Be sure to follow up on all job leads.

vii. Build your social and professional network — It is often said, “What counts is not how much you know, but who you know.” Networking is an effective job search tool, made even easier with the advent of social media.

viii. Make cold calls — Make direct contact with schools even if a vacancy has not been advertised. This can be time-consuming and might sometimes be disappointing as rejection is a high probability in many instances. Nevertheless, be optimistic and always be prepared for an on-the-spot interview.

ix. Use traditional methods — Send targeted applications as well as prospecting mass mail. Request informational interviews.

x. Develop a written job search action plan — Clearly identify realistic short- and medium-term goals with associated weekly objectives and daily tasks. Keep a record of your activities with details of your contacts and follow-up dates.

 

Final tips:

• Treat your job search as a job

• Be diligent and persistent

• Maintain a positive mental attitude

 

All the best!

 

Sincerely,

Career Advisor

 

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at careeradvisor@ncu.edu.jm

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