Hello! I am Tom Mitchell, Founder and Education Job Coach for Teacher Express.
I began my career filling out job applications using a manual Olivetti typewriter! Every page of every application had to be rolled into the carriage, and then the painful task of hunt and peck, hoping not to strike the wrong key, began. When finally finished, each application was carefully folded, placed in an envelope, and mailed to a prospective school district.
My how times have changed, and thankfully so! Common practices of searching and applying for positions online is much more convenient and cost-effective than methods used in the past. More and more districts are using third-party vendors to provide and store electronic applications and supporting documents. And districts that prefer applicants to send documents (print or electronic) directly to them usually require standard forms for submission.
I mention this because hiding beneath the silver lining is a dark side to this practice, and one perhaps you have already noted.
The anonymity associated with digital submissions to professional job vacancies creates and exaggerates a bland uniformity among applicants. Hopeful candidates generally reply in the same way, at the same time, using mostly the same forms, citing the same vocabulary, uploading the same documents, and largely, sharing similar goals and objectives. And to make matters worse, because the job postings reach a larger audience over a wider geographic area, they often result in even greater numbers of applicants for most positions.
The difficult part of applying online is being discovered. You need to be seen. You need to be heard. Your application must JUMP OUT at administrators who are screening them. Your challenge is to appear as an inventive, creative, fun, capable, experienced team player. How can you communicate that using digital documents requested?
Your cover letter and resume are very important, as I will discuss in subsequent articles. However, they must communicate these things to the reviewers in just a few seconds. You need to use the right words in the right way in the right places.
I recently read an article by an HR consultant who suggested that your resume must pass the "10-Second Test." That is, anyone reading it has only 10 seconds to review it, and then put it down and talk about you for 30 seconds. If your greatest skills and achievements are mentioned in that dialogue, you pass. If not - well, your resume failed and you should re-write it until your "message" is easily remembered.
There is another disadvantage to the use of online applications. Feedback from districts is rare and takes a long time. Most applicants note that they wait and wait and wait and often do not hear anything regarding the vacancy. Did this ever happen to you?
Remedy? You need to follow up. You must initiate communication these days! Call (do not email) the HR office and request to speak with someone familiar with the posting and ask them to provide an update regarding the status of the position. Stay on it!
And hope you hear that candidates have not yet been selected for interviews. That would be great news, for time still remains for you to make your best move!
What is that? For more details or to plan your strategy, call the Coach and be sure to purchase your copy of Pathway to Teaching today!