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Quality Teachers Can't Find Jobs

Quality Teachers Can't Find Jobs

Madison Paine |

In all of my years of teaching, I have never seen so many of my colleagues stressed and out of work. It deeply concerns me and it should concern our nation more than it does. More parents and business leaders should be sending letters to our nation’s capitol and marching on state legislatures to protect teacher positions and school programs. This week I received a question from a teacher who should be actively working in someone’s school. She is experienced and has credentials in subject areas desperately needed across the country. Yet she finds herself locked out of a system that is not competing nationally. Wake up America! A teacher with excellent recommendations and that is highly qualified should not be facing unemployment in this nation.

I admire this teacher because she still has the humility to ask how she can get better so she can serve. I hope you as a reader are able to find nuggets of insight from our conversation to help you in your current or future job pursuit.

Dear Madison:

In the past three years I have had two temporary teaching positions and last year I substituted. My AP the year before said I would have no trouble getting a position for the next year. I am certified in Mathematics and Exceptional Student Education. I am a good teacher. I have 14 years of experience. I know this is a bad economy. Any suggestions? I believe I interview well. I have attached two letters of recommendation from principals as an example of my performance and a copy of my resume for you to critique.

Thanks so much for any suggestions.


Dear Marjorie,

I have great news for you! Math and Special Programs are still subject areas that post high job listings within education. Your expertise in Exceptional Student Education further makes you a candidate that is more marketable. You enclosed two excellent letters of recommendation and your resume. Let’s just focus on your resume. I think the key for you as a veteran is your cover letter (which you did not include). Resumes limit painting a picture of who you were as a teacher for 14 years. You can address gaps in full time instruction more eloquently in a cover letter as well as give a quick snapshot of your career highlights.

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I would avoid obvious statements in your resume like “I was able to refer them” or “Character that students can look up to”. All teachers should be able to refer students and have great character. Post bullet points that are catchy and make you stand out in a crowd, but try your best to do it in one sentence or phrase. An example from your own experience would be, “created an innovative chess program for autistic children”. I rephrased what you originally said to make it stand out more. That would be a great conversation piece in an interview and shows your creativity and ability to work with a specialized population.

It could have been formatting issues with the software used to create your resume, but your margins seemed off and your overall layout was very plain. You want your resume to be eye catching, well organized, and clean. There are so many recommendations out there on how to format resumes, it can be really overwhelming. My suggestion is to keep it concise, interesting, and easy to follow. I am sure administrators reading resumes do not want wordy and verbose. Open with your name and contact information, go straight to education and certification, then jump right into your most recent job experience (listing in bullet points job highlights and duties). End your resume with any awards, recognitions, or extra job duties that would make you more marketable.

Poll: Would you recommend future teachers check the market before picking a specialty?

Poll: Would you recommend future teachers check the market before picking a specialty?

My final thoughts are that you should continue to be confident. I loved that you said, “I am a good teacher.” If you do not believe it, why should anyone else? Let your experience and the comments of others make that case for you. Since your interview skills are strong, make sure you focus on how your 14 years experience will benefit a particular school and how you could help your administration and colleagues.

Sometimes I wonder if more education and experience, in light of recent budget cuts, makes us veterans more vulnerable to layoffs. It would in any other industry, why not education? However, teachers with experience have to continue to wave our banner of experience and remind future employers how it would behoove them to make us a part of their teams.

I wish you and every teacher from the seasoned veteran to the budding instructor great success in our current economy. It is my joy to encourage you.

Madison Paine

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