06/07/2017 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

How Are You Perceived in the Job Search?

stick figures under magnifying glass

When you’re searching for a new job, you’re opening yourself up to judgments (whether fair or not) and analysis as soon as you submit your application materials. When schools are looking to hire new faculty and staff, they’re trying to ensure that the new teacher or administrator will be the right fit for their community. New faculty will need to fit in well with colleagues, provide a good example for students, and represent the school in a positive way.

Aside from the materials that compose your CS&A file and the cover letters you send, there are several other factors that contribute to an initial perception of you and your candidacy. Many of these are very simple—and very easy to manage.

1. Your Email Address

If you’ve been using one email address for the better part of a decade, you might not even think about its implications anymore. But you should—especially when applying for a new job. Is your email address mature, professional, and appropriate? If it’s something kitschy or confusing, or if it’s an inside joke you established years ago, it might be time to change it. Your email address should be a clear indication of your professional self.

Along those lines, make sure the name associated with your email address is your actual name. If you’ve made the name associated with a nickname or something else, change it—you want every message that comes through the hiring contact’s inbox to present you in a positive, professional light.

Similarly, while using an email address from your current employer isn’t a horrible offense, we recommend creating (if you don’t already have one) a personal email account that you use for anything related to your job search. Try something as simple as your first and last name; include a middle initial or one or two numbers if your name is already taken.

2. Your Voicemail Greeting

An outgoing voicemail greeting is something that most people set up when they purchase a new phone, then never check again. Periodically review your outgoing message to ensure that you sound professional and confident in your greeting. Have an automatic greeting instead? Change it—your message should clearly indicate who you are and be gracious and welcoming, so hiring contacts who call you know they’ve reached the right number.

3. Your Social Media

It goes without saying, but if you’re applying for a position in a school (or anywhere, for that matter), you need to ensure that your social media profiles portray you positively. Use social media for what it’s intended: to make connections, share ideas, market your personal brand, and learn new things. Don’t use it to vent, rant, or make off-color jokes.

If you have public Twitter or LinkedIn accounts that blend your personal and professional lives, make sure you are careful about the kind of content you’re sharing. If you have other profiles, like Facebook or Instagram, that you’d rather share only with close personal friends, make sure to adjust your settings to protect your privacy. And even if your privacy settings have been fine-tuned to include only the people you wish, do be mindful of what you post and what has been posted in the past. It’s still possible to uncover things you might not want potential employers to see, and we hear often from schools who do their due diligence when it comes to researching their candidates online.

4. Your Communication

Email etiquette has seen better days. According to a study, workers spend 28% of their workweek reading and answering email. Given the slew of other job functions we each have, that means we’re spending less and less time managing our messages and even less time composing thoughtful and timely replies. It might seem unimportant, but schools notice—and not in a good way—when communication with candidates is sloppy, slow, and unprofessional.

When you receive an email from a school contact, write back as soon as you can (or set yourself a reminder to reply!), not only to ensure the message doesn’t get lost in your inbox but to ensure the school doesn’t move on to other candidates because you didn’t reply in a timely manner. Use proper grammar, full sentences, and professional salutations. Be firm in your message, but not demanding. You wouldn’t go to a job interview in jeans and a T-shirt, so don’t do the equivalent in your email communication.

As you have probably guessed, all the recommendations above apply to phone calls and voicemail messages from school contacts as well.

5. Your Expectations

Our advice: check them at the door. As confident as you might be about your chances of landing the position, you still need to remember that schools have dozens of other candidates waiting in the wings. It’s important to exude confidence and poise, but not as the risk of coming across as entitled and ungrateful. Especially if you’re just starting out as a teacher, keep in mind that just as veteran teachers did, you’ll have to pay some dues before you land the perfect job. Title, position, location, commute time, and salary are all important considerations when job seeking, but the chances of finding a job that matches exactly what you’re looking for in each area might be difficult. Talk to your Placement Team about what is realistic in today’s market.

Like it or not, by submitting yourself for review in a job application, you are exposing yourself for critique regardless of your qualifications and job history. Make sure any initial contact prospective employers have with you is positive and professional.

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