Maybe you are getting ready to graduate or have recently graduated, have a degree in music education and are ready to begin teaching, but now the challenge of finding a full-time music teaching position begins. If you find yourself in this position you are probably starting to realize that this can be quite a daunting and overwhelming task. You are overwhelmed with where to begin, how to find job postings, applications, portfolios, resumes, and eventually interviews. As we all know interviewing is a challenge itself, but actually finding and applying for jobs can be a long and tiring journey. In this post I will give some resources for finding job postings, tips on filling out applications, and some general tips on the daunting task of job searching.
Where To Begin
- Know What You Are Looking For- Before your start your searching you need to know what type of job you are looking for. What area or areas of music education do you want to teach. Also, think about what area of the country you want to work in. This helps to narrow your search and keep you focused.
- Do Your Research- After deciding on what you are looking for make sure you do your research. Start by researching schools in the areas you would like to work and find schools that seem like a good fit. Also, make sure you research each state you are applying in so that you know their application requirements. If looking out of state be sure to find out the requirements for transferring your teaching certificate.
- Have All Your Materials Prepared- Get all of your materials prepared such as cover letters, resumes, portfolios, clearances, and recommendations ready before you start searching. This way as soon as you start to find postings you are ready to mail in your materials.
- Be Open Minded Yet Selective- Have an open mind as to where you search, but also be selective. What I mean is don’t apply to every job posting you find even if it is where you are looking. Before you apply make sure it is a job you could see yourself in for at least a few years and the area is right for you.
Tips On Filling Out Applications
- Know the Expectations and Requirements- When starting to fill out applications make sure you read the job posting and make sure you know all of the requirements. Each state and often each school district requires different essays, applications and materials. Also, many schools are starting to use online applications and don’t want you to send anything by mail. Finally if you are interested in a school district that hasn’t posted a job yet, check before you send in your materials. Some schools are fine with this, but others only want materials for jobs they have posted.
- Allow Time- When filling out applications allow plenty of time as it is a very time consuming process. This is especially true if you are using job search sites such as USReap or PaEducator which require extensive profiles. These take a long time to fill out and need to be done before postings start coming out. I recommend getting this done in the winter or early spring before you start searching.
- Have Standard Essays and Applications Prepared- If your state has a standard application or essay get these prepared ahead of time. Also make sure to keep a hard copy of these on your computer so you can print them out for other schools or update the information.
- Appearance is Half the Battle- When filling out applications and preparing your packet of materials make sure that everything is neat and organized. Appearance is half of the battle. Since schools get hundreds of applications for one position they often start weeding out the applications by just glancing at them and checking if you followed directions before they even start reading your qualifications.
- Find Ways to Stand Out- When sending applications find ways to make yourself stand out. One way to do this is by making a mini-portfolio or brochure about yourself that you can send with every application. Another way to do this is by making an online portfolio and including the web address in your materials. WordPress is a great way to do this for free. Here is mine as an example: www.elizabethheist.com
Resources For Finding Job Openings
There are many easily available resources for job searching. Below are some specific sites and and also some more general ways to find postings. For anything below that is state specific, most states have their own version of the same website.
- PA Educator- A specific site for PA that many PA schools use to post openings.
- US Reap- Online job portal for many states. Create a profile once and then use it for any of the states that post jobs.
- Teaching In PA- Postings for all fields of open jobs in PA. Many others states have sites just like this one.
- Teacher Catapult- Another site specific to PA, but is a great resource if you are looking for jobs in PA. Also, has great general job searching resources.
- Teachers- Teachers- An online job portal where you can search for jobs worldwide and also private schools. All you have to do is create a profile, select what types of jobs you are looking for and it will automatically show you related postings.
- School Spring- Similar to teachers-teachers where you can search any states for postings.
- Classified Ads- Websites such as Indeed, Craigslist, and Monster have postings for music education jobs.
- State Education Boards- Most stated school boards update regular job postings such as Pennsylvania School Boards Association
- State Department of Education- Check out your states department of education website. Most have an online job search portal.
- State Music Education Associations- Most state music education websites have a job board.
- NAFME Job List
- Local School Districts- If you are looking in a certain area check the local school district websites for a list of postings.
- Local Newspapers
- Private Schools- A directory that links you to private schools by state.
- Job Fairs- Attend local job fairs or do a search for job fairs and see which school districts are attending and what subject areas the are looking to hire.
- Word of Mouth- Sometimes the best way to find openings is by word of mouth. Ask friends, co-workers, professors, private lesson teachers, music stores etc.
- Professional Learning Networks- In my opinion this is one of the best ways to find postings and also ask about certain areas or job opportunities.
General Job Searching Tips
- Start Early- Don’t wait until summer to start searching because you will miss out on a lot of opportunities. End of April/beginning of May is when many schools start positing, but you will often find a lot of postings earlier in the year as well. Some schools will even start interviews as early as February or March.
- Search Often- While job searching is definitely time consuming I have found that it is extremely important to get into a routine and do your searches often. Many times schools will only keep a posting up for 1 week. So you want to keep checking back and have everything ready to send in so that you don’t miss a chance at a job because of being unprepared.
- Continue Gaining Experience- While you are job searching, continue to gain teaching experience. This could be through student teaching, substitute teaching, a long-term assignment, working at a summer music camp, or being on a marching band staff. The more experience you have the better your chances are for landing and interview and securing a job.
- Have a Backup Plan- We all hope to land that first job right out of college, but unfortunately that doesn’t always happen. Try to have a backup plan in mind in case you don’t land a full-time position right away. If you are planning on subbing if you don’t get a full-time position get your materials in during the summer. It is better to get your materials in early and possible have to tell them you got a full-time job instead of waiting until August. If you wait until then you probably won’t start subbing until at least the end of September.
- Don’t Give Up- This is definitely easier said than done, but try to not give up. There is a job out there for you, but sometimes it takes awhile to find. Some of the best educators I know didn’t get a full-time position for a few years. Just keep plugging away and something will eventually come your way!
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