Securing Your First Job – Application

Landing your first teaching position is a daunting task. There are many more graduates than there are jobs. I’ve been fortunate enough to sit on a panel this week to employ two new graduates at my school, and through this process I have formulated some tips to help you gain the edge in the crowded marketplace. Now is the time that many jobs are being advertised!

The Essential Teacher’s Guide devotes a chapter each to the application and interview process. I won’t rehash those suggestions here, instead will give you some new ideas! Next article will delve in more depth with interview tips.


Panels want to know:

  • Your age. We can work it out if you don’t specify it anyway, based on your work and educational history. It’s not going to stop you being hired, we just get a good picture of you.
  • Where you studied. We know some universities prepare their undergraduates better than others. Again, we won’t hold any particular uni against you!
  • Where you did placements/what year levels/how long were they? This gives us a picture of your experience and the types of schools you have worked out. For example, my school has EAL student enrolments increasing. Working at schools with a large migrant population may assist us in choosing your application.
  • What have you done since uni finished? Some have had a year or two in the classroom, some are fresh out, some have done CRT. This won’t preclude you from the position in any way, just give us a fuller picture of what we can expect from you.
  • Can you edit, proofread and string intelligent sentences together? When there are 100+ applicants for each position the panel need some way to cull quickly. It takes me 30 minutes to read each application in depth. I don’t have time to do this whilst working so I need some way to toss out applications. Harsh, but true.
  • Did you answer the Selection Criteria well and appropriately? If you are copying and pasting from application to application it’s pretty evident. It is time consuming, but you will need to tailor each application to every school. How do your skills and experience fit with my school? Also, some apps I’ve read have gotten the last criteria completely wrong, simply by assuming each school posts the same criteria. I’ll be tossing those apps on the NO pile.
  • Did you go on a tour? A tour is not always offered and it is not always possible to go on a tour. However, every effort should be made to do so. If only five of you show up, you will stand out compared to the 95 who didn’t. It will allow you to tailor your application even further.
  • Don’t waste space on quotes from supervising teachers or scholars. You have a short space to impress us. We want to know what you can do. Usually quotes are used when an applicant is being too lazy to write enough or they are unable to answer the criteria well.
  • Allow time to upload your application. We are all busy people. If you miss the cut off time by 10 seconds you cannot apply. Too often, the online uploader has crashed. Don’t stress out and miss applying for your dream job because you left your application writing and uploading too late.
  • Use your contacts. If you know ANYONE in the school you are applying at, let them know and ask them to put in a good word for you. Don’t be shy or embarrassed. You simply have to push your case forward.
  • Choose appropriate referees. As a way of culling the applicants prior to interview, the panel may ring referees. They will probably ask them some specific questions, such as, “How do they react under pressure?” “What is their behaviour management like?” “Do they have excellent curriculum knowledge?” Referees are often honest and it helps panels decide whether to put them on the yes or no pile.
  • Let your referees know what you are applying for. A prepared referee is a better referee.
  • Make sure referee contact details are correct. Check and double check. I wanted to check references recently but the number was wrong.
  • Use dot points. A general intro and then dot points is heaps easier to read and process.
  • It’s PRINCIPAL, not principle!

Good luck with your applications and allow plenty of time to write them. It takes days but worth it when you secure that job!

Next article is on Interview Tips.

2 Replies to “Securing Your First Job – Application”

  1. Sally says:

    So true, I used to write resumes and I have worked in recruitment, so I know how important a good application is. Be honest, be concise, check and double check spelling and other details.
    I was interested to see that you do want my age but as a mature-aged student it would be covered by my life experience. I am still studying but when I graduate in 18 months I will apply these tips so I can get a fantastic job doing what I love – teaching!

    1. Nadine King says:

      Thanks for your comments Sally. Sounds like you have a head start with your recruitment experience. Age is neither here nor there, probably my personal preference. As a panel member it just helps me get a more complete picture of the applicant’s situation.
      Good luck with the remainder of your course!

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