How to Get a Teaching Job: Expert Tips From Teachers Who Got the Gig

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Updated | 4 min read

When you’re fresh out of college and just got your teaching certification, plugging in “schools hiring near me” and looking at that long list of open teaching jobs can get very overwhelming very fast. We hear you. Figuring out how to get a teaching job can seem like it’s about as easy as climbing Mt. Everest and about as likely to happen too. Good thing we’ve got tips on how to get a teaching job that worked for the people who are in the job now — other teachers!

How to Get a Teaching Job

Let’s start with good news. Because of teacher retirement, teachers changing fields, or just growing class sizes, there are a lot of schools hiring for teaching jobs from pre-kindergarten all the way up to high school. Most in demand right now across the US are special education teachers, followed by general elementary teachers. And the needs are everywhere — the National Center for Education Statistics found 44 percent of schools in the nation have full- or part-time teaching job vacancies.

Your first teaching job is out there, and we’ve talked to some folks who know exactly what you need to do to find the right home in just the right district.

Update Your Resume

Did you know one in five recruiters will reject a candidate before they have even finished reading their resume? We talked to the experts and put together the right format for a teaching resume, plus what new teachers often forget to include!

Live the Sub Life

It’s not a full-time teaching job, but spending some time as a substitute teacher can help you get familiar with a school district — and even more importantly, let them get familiar with you — while you make some money to pay the bills.

“Subbing is a great way to get your name well-known in the district,” advises Southern California teacher Angella Chung. “Other teachers and principals can vouch for you and help you land a position!”

Because of substitute shortages caused by the pandemic, this is also a highly in-demand job right now, and it could be your foot in the door to that teaching job.

Show Up

Do you have kid in the district or even nieces or nephews? Start attending school events, says Teach Starter resource creator Randi Smith, who spent 16 years in the classroom in Georgia. “It gives you an opportunity to network, meet administrators, discover volunteer or substitute opportunities, and it shows the administration your level of school pride and involvement,” Randi points out.

Download a weekly spelling homework resource created by Randi to cover an entire school year!

Volunteer

It won’t bring in cash like substitute teaching, but volunteering in classrooms has its benefits too, says Teach Starter’s Lauren Piper, a teacher who’s spent the last eight years in the classroom.  Her advice is to “get in as many schools and classrooms as you can.” You never know who you will meet, and who will want to recommend you for a job.

Check out a fun subtraction game from Piper, plus her endlessly engaging punctuation PowerPoint

Create a Mission Statement

You may not know your future yet, but take it from Maddie Schmalz, an ELA teacher who’s spent 10 years in the classroom — now’s the time to create a mission statement for your classroom.  “Knowing what your goals are as a teacher makes a big impression on potential employers,” the Teach Starter resource creator advises.

Do Your Research

Teachers tend to be pretty curious people who want to learn everything. So put that curiosity to work to get a teaching job!

“Know everything you can find about the school, curriculum, the teachers, and the district so that you can ask really great questions to get a better understanding of the teaching and learning environment,” Teach Starter resource creator and special education teacher Talia Buonopane advises. Bonus? It will show your interview panel “that you care about the position and want to do the best you can in it,” Buonopane says.

Download these positive self-talk prompts designed by Buonopane for your next social-emotional lesson!

Network, Network, Network

For Melissa, an ELA teacher who creates many of Teach Starter’s teacher-created resources, nothing beats networking “like your life depends on it” when it comes to finding a teaching job. That means turning to all the administrators and educators you might know, whether it’s the folks from your student teaching days or even your own days as an elementary or high school student (maybe your old district is hiring?). No luck there? Joining Teach for America or City Year can give you a year under your belt at a school where you can meet those kinds of folks, she says.

Talk to Your Professors

Before Garrett Gerard created a variety of Teach Starter’s helpful resources, he was a fifth-grade teacher in a Texas classroom. How did he get the job? He talked to his college professor!

“I found my first teaching position through a professor at my college. She had a principal friend reach out to her to see if she knew of any long-term subs,” Gerard says. “I was recommended, then hired as a full-time fifth-grade teacher the next year.”

His advice comes down to four words: “Talk to your professors!”

Find out the most common teaching interview questions, and how to blow your interview panel away!

Dream Big

This bit of advice for getting a teaching job comes from both Piper and Schmalz — sometimes your dream district or even the grade you enjoy teaching the most will end up being the one you least expect. So apply widely, these pros say. “Be open to going somewhere new,” Piper notes.

Think of it as your next big adventure!

Check out all our teacher tools for help getting ready for that teaching job interview!

Banner image via shutterstock/Ivan Dudka

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