09/16/2013 by Carney Sandoe Staff | Landing the Job
Marketing Yourself: Addressing Schools’ Concerns
When you’re applying for jobs, you may find that your thought process is “me”-centric–and it should be. You should be asking yourself these kinds of questions: What do I want to do next? What type of school would make me happy? Where and what environment is best suited to my needs?
Once you’ve figured out the answers to those questions, though, start thinking from the point of view of a school. Identify the school’s needs, and figure out how you fit into the solution.
Your application process is all about marketing—and you are the product. The first step in marketing yourself? Demonstrating that you understand what a school is looking for and assuaging any concerns the school may have about your candidacy.
The talking points your background lends to a hiring conversation only demonstrate part of who you are. Don’t pigeonhole yourself based on the most recent or most salient part of your resume. Market yourself as the whole package—because, more often than not, that’s what a school is looking for.
Here’s an example of one teacher who could market herself in three different ways to meet the needs of three different schools.
Teacher X’s Background:
- BA in Spanish
- Played four years of club tennis in college
- One summer as an apprentice Spanish teacher at a New England boarding school
- Two years teaching English in Seville, Spain
How would the hiring conversations go?
School A: A new charter school in DC with a residential component in need of a Spanish teacher
- You don’t have much Spanish teaching experience.
- We need someone who can manage the classroom well. Can you?
- Are you willing to live on-campus?
Teacher X might say:
- While I’ve only taught Spanish in the classroom for one summer, four years of advanced Spanish and two years living abroad have made me fluent in the language. Teaching English in a Spanish-speaking country reinforced my dual mastery of Spanish and English and, I believe, has made me a more effective Spanish teacher.
- As an English teacher in Seville, I often taught students in a blend of Spanish and English. There, I gained a better understanding of the grammatical nuances of the Spanish language.
- I managed my classroom in Seville with ease. Moreover, when I was a summer teaching apprentice, classroom management and dorm management were some of the biggest components of my job.
- I loved living on-campus and bonding with the students in New England, and I can’t wait to get back to the dorms.
School B: A day school in Florida in need of an ESL teacher and girls’ tennis coach
- You don’t really want to teach ESL; you’re a Spanish teacher at heart.
- Our tennis program is very serious. Why didn’t you play varsity? Can you handle it?
Teacher X might say:
- When I graduated college, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach Spanish or ESL. While teaching the latter, I loved it so much that I decided to stay on in Seville for another year.
- My Spanish background makes teaching ESL a much richer (and, frankly, easier!) experience.
- I played tennis competitively in high school and college. I chose not to try for varsity so I could focus on my studies.
School C: An international school in Shanghai looking to expand its language department
- You don’t have enough experience teaching Spanish to be the best choice in this developing department.
- Do you really want to be in an international school?
Teacher X might say:
- I am fluent in Spanish and have experience teaching to students of all levels, regardless of their language of origin.
- I came up with my own curriculum when I taught in Seville, and I am excited to bring that passion and creativity to a new position.
- My experience abroad reinforced my desire to spend some time traveling and underscored my interest in working in an international school.
When you’re applying for teaching or administrative positions, think about how each component of your background can help a school solve the unique problem it is encountering.
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