Friday, November 1, 2013

"Do's" and "Don’ts" of the ELT Job Search

do network
All of those ELT professionals you have been meeting? At conferences, workshops, school visits, social media? Yeah, don’t throw those cards away. Don’t lose track of them. Each of these people could present a new job opportunity, or several, and even those who don’t have probably heard of something in the field. Keep an ear out, introduce yourself, look around, and ask those in your network to do the same.

dont leave a bird in the hand
You may be ready to move on to the next thing right away. Perhaps you are seeking bigger and better opportunities, or maybe you are just sick of where you are now.  DON’T QUIT YOUR JOB UNTIL YOU HAVE ANOTHER ONE LINED UP. As an academic admin, I have seen hundreds and hundreds of resumes cross my desk, most of whom belong to teachers who have experience but have taken an (at times unintentionally) long break from teaching.  To navigate your job search from a position of power, hold on to your current job until you have some idea of what is out there and what options are available to you.  Having a little income during the job search process will also ensure that you are able to look thoughtfully and choose the right job for you, rather than  slowly going broke before snatching up the first opportunity which offers you a paycheck.

do cast a wide net
When I began my job search, I had an idea of exactly what  thought I was looking for. I typed the same job title into search fields, emails, and websites. One month down the line and my search ended with a job offer for a position which was not what I thought  I should have been  looking for (hint: it was better!).  Don’t limit yourself by keeping a narrowly-defined idea in your mind of what your job will be. Leave yourself room to find something bigger and better.

dont burn bridges
Making the decision to leave my job was a difficult one, and going in to turn in my resignation was even more difficult. By the time I had made that decision I had already moved on in my mind. However, I needed to tie up the loose ends at my old position, and doing this in a thoughtful and considerate way was really important. You may be moving on, but you want to leave a positive lasting impression on the place you are leaving. Who knows? They may be writing your next recommendation, offering you another job down the line, or just proving to be a useful contact in the field. Don’t burn that bridge behind you.

do be honest
We are all familiar with the art of the “humble-brag,” the process of speaking of our accomplishments in the field in an extra-flattering light, especially during the job search. While it is important to be able to speak about ourselves openly and confidently, it is even more important to be honest. A job won because of false advertising is not the job for you. Be honest, about both your accomplishments and your shortcomings, and you will increase your chances of finding yourself in the job environment which is perfect for you, not a false version of yourself.

don’t be limited by fear

Making the decision to look for another position and ultimately leaving my job and beginning someplace brand new was terrifying, I’m not going to lie. I was comfortable at the old place, and the idea of starting something new and unfamiliar was scary. By facing that fear and going out into unfamiliar territory, I found something better than I could ever have imagined. It is totally natural to have fear, but don’t let your fear keep you from discovering the next amazing thing that life may have in store for you.