Hannah Plimmer is a Senior Recruitment Adviser at Ark. She joined Ark in 2016 and has worked across the People and Communications teams supporting schools to attract the best teachers. She has always worked in education having spent four years at an education recruitment agency and two years working for a group of international English language schools.
Having worked in education recruitment for 10 years, I have seen more than my fair share of CVs – the good, the bad and the very bizarre. From listing “personal hygiene” as a skill to including “poultry” as a hobby, I’ve seen it all.
Getting a new job can be a daunting experience. It’s not just about being a great teacher, it’s about being a good job hunter and knowing how to sell yourself.
Here are some stress-free tips to guide you through the process.
Searching for a new role
You’ve decided you’re ready to change roles – now what?
- Use your networks
As well as doing Google searches and looking on job websites, try hunting for a new role a bit closer to home. Speak to friends in other schools, see if they know of any interesting opportunities. Or use social media – have a look on LinkedIn or Twitter to see if any of your contacts are sharing roles. By going through someone you know, you might discover a job you wouldn’t have come across otherwise
- Think outside the box
Especially when it comes to job titles – there are some weird and wonderful roles out there (Head of Happiness anyone?!) and education is no exception. While there are still plenty of standard “maths teacher/teacher of maths” roles, don’t be put off if something sounds a little out of ordinary. Take a look at the job description and you might be pleasantly surprised. As a network of schools, Ark has a number of roles working across a region or as part of our central team that might sound a little unusual but are unique opportunities to support multiple schools
- Be proactive
Fed up of searching? Make the jobs come to you. Most job boards allow you to sign up for job alerts for particular roles or keywords. You can also get alerts from many school websites, especially if they’re part of a group. Identify a couple of schools or groups you’re interested in, submit your requirements and wait for the jobs to come straight into your inbox.
Writing a great application
You’ve found the ideal role, now you’ve just got to craft a perfect application and cover letter to go with it.
- Don’t be generic
When it comes to application forms, don’t just write a list of generic responsibilities that would be the same for every teaching role. Instead, talk about what made your role different and highlight any duties that are particularly relevant for the role you’re applying for. As for the cover letter, it can be very easy to keep it generic, especially when you’re submitting multiple applications, but that’s a big no-no. Write about why you’re interested in this particular role at this particular school – what appeals about it and why you’d be great for it.
- Avoid clichés and buzzwords
Using buzzwords to show you’re up-to-date with your education trends? Be careful – they can be more off-putting than impressive. It can be hard to work out what you’re actually trying to say and people often use them in the wrong context. Stick to plain simple language and avoid overcomplicated words or clichéd sayings, you’ll just lose the real meaning of what you want to say.
It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many mistakes we see. Always re-read your application before hitting submit. Typos, spelling mistakes or writing the wrong school name (yes, it really happens) all give a bad first impression.
Impressing at interviews
- Do your research
Visited the school’s website, look at their social media profiles or recent newsletters, ask anyone you may know who has a connection there. Not only will it give you better insight into the school, it also shows that you’re really interested in working there. It’ll make you stand out at interview if you can reference something you saw online or heard from a colleague.
- Be specific
Make sure you talk specifically about the impact you had in previous roles and how you achieved it. Give concrete evidence and use relevant examples. At interviews, it’s important to talk about the difference you made and how you got there, rather than just listing responsibilities
- All your interactions matters
Obviously you’ll put your game face on when you’re in the interview panel, but don’t forget about all the other interactions while you’re at the school. From greeting the receptionist when you arrive, to talking to pupils on a tour of the school and chatting to other teachers in the staff room. Make sure you’re presenting the best version of yourself throughout the day.
No two job searches, applications or interviews are the same, but following these easy guidelines (and avoiding mentioning poultry in your CV…) should help you to find and land that dream role.
Find out more about careers with Ark.