Are You a Good Fit for Our Job?

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Are You a Good Fit for Our Job?
Here is some practical advice to help applicants stand out and increase their chances of securing an interview in the competitive boarding school job market.
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In this article, we're going to do a little role-playing. I will assume the role of the boarding school advertising a position. I want you to see and understand what goes on behind the scenes as applications come in online, via email or snail mail. With that knowledge, I am confident you will take the extra time and care necessary to submit the application, which will make the first cut. After all, you want to get an interview. Otherwise, all bets are off.

In the following, I will present the school and its point of view. Then, I will follow that with editorial comments and advice based on my professional experience to determine which applicants get an interview and which don't meet the requirements.

The School: We expect to receive hundreds of applications and resumes when advertising a position. Some of these are from people we know; however, most applications are from people we do not know. So, tell me now, why should I look at your resume? Here are some reasons why your application will go into the "Review" folder.

1. You presented your application in the format we specified.

School: Following instructions is a trait most employers value. As a result, a simple thing like following the instructions on applying for the job opening at our school speaks well of you. Our school uses a standardized application form to comply with various legal requirements. So, if you use something other than the form we specify, your chances of making the first cut are slim. While some schools will let you choose how to apply, our instructions are precise. Please follow them to the letter. We have a minimal staff. Deviations from our instructions make extra work for us.

Editor: Most schools will instruct you to apply via email. The following directive is typical: "Please send resume and letter of interest to hr@xxxxx.edu withJournalismin the subject line."

Other schools will allow you to send a formal application via snail mail. Candidates for all faculty positions should send a letter of interest, resume, list of three references, and academic transcripts." This instruction means precisely what it says.

Yet another school cautions applicants: "Please do not submit any documents in PDF format."

It is important to remember that each private school is unique and does things its own way. It does not matter if the school violates some accepted norm or protocol. It is what it is. Uniqueness, after all, is the essence of being a private school.

This video offers a look at Salisbury School.

2. Your application offers the credentials and experience we are looking for.

The School: If you lack the credentials and experience that we seek and other candidates do, your chances of getting an interview will probably be slim. You would have to have an advantage, like being an alum or being known to a staff member, to be considered.

Editor: Here are some examples of the credentials and experiences that schools look for.

Packer Collegiate wants the journalism teacher to have the following: "A Master’s degree in English, Journalism, or Education is preferred, but not required."

Far Hills Country Day School wants a World Language Department Head who is "An experienced educator/instructor to help deliver our traditional program using progressive methods. "

If you are fortunate enough to know somebody who works at the school, ask him or her to be one of your references.

3. You state your objective clearly and cogently.

School: "I love teaching. I especially like teaching young people." We want to hear applicants say that. Clearly. Unequivocally. Somewhere, somehow, you need to get that point across. That's what private schools look for. That passion for teaching and working with young people drives the demand for places at our school. Since our parents pay substantial amounts of money to educate their children at our school, we carefully listen to what our parents ask for. Combine that love of teaching and passion for your subject with solid experience and superb credentials, and you will advance to the front line.

Editor: The skills and competencies required for a Buckingham Browne & Nichols School position are as follows: "The candidate will demonstrate the following: Enjoys working with high school-aged students. Excellent writing skills. Warmth, sense of humor, and tact."

Maret School's requirements for a Spanish teacher are as follows: "Strong candidates will be enthusiastic about teaching both middle and upper school students."

4. You have strong references.

School: We require three references. These should be previous employers wherever possible. Yes, we will ask them why you left and under what terms. It matters to us that you left your last position because your contract was not renewed. So, we will ask why that occurred. We will need to know if your spouse was transferred and you had to move to a new city. Consequently, ensure that your references are enthusiastic supporters of you and your teaching career.

Editor: What do you do if you are starting? References from your professors and trusted community leaders will help. You need advocates. Find the best ones you can. Explain to them what you are hoping to accomplish. Show your appreciation for their help and assistance.

This video offers a look at Middlesex School.

5. You can coach a sport or supervise an extracurricular activity.

School: Athletics and extracurricular activities are an integral part of our program. We expect our teachers to coach a sport or supervise an extracurricular activity. We educate the whole child, and we need our faculty and staff to embrace that philosophy wholeheartedly.

Editor: Include a list of activities and interests in your resume. Schools will read that section with interest, especially if it matches their requirements. If you have won prizes or been recognized by your peers, include those awards as well. Entries such as "State Squash Champion, Ardley High School Squash Team, 2005" or "Attended Cannes Film Festival 2011" denote a level of achievement and interest that might set your application apart from the competition.

Finally, mention that you look forward to living on campus as a dorm "parent." You understand the school's need for flawless 24/7 supervision of its students.

As you probably have realized, applying to any boarding school for employment demands that you understand that particular school's requirements. Review each school's website to understand its educational philosophy and perspective. That will help you craft an application package that, at the very least, will get your application noticed.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @boarding schoolreview

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