Here’s a question via email from our EDU Edge friend Amber (aka Star Girl), an aspiring teacher preparing for the teacher interview from out-of-state:
“I’m applying out of state as I’m moving…. I’ve made close connections at my current school district and have great references but what would be some tips when applying out of state? Do I need to stand out since I can’t apply in person?… Also, some districts have completely online applications, while I filled out the application, is there anyone to stand out specifically for online applications?”
Amber- so glad you asked this question. Your situation is actually one that we are sure a lot of our readers are facing as well. We bounced this question off of our consortium of administrators around the country, crunched the numbers back at The EDU Edge world headquarters and here are the top five tips we came up with to get a teacher interview from out of state.
1. Apply for your certification in the state you are targeting- right away!
State certifications have become increasingly reciprocal. In addition, many school districts may be willing to hire you while your certification is being converted. You may not even have interest in applying to a traditional public school setting where certification is required. All of these factors may be leading you to believe there is no reason to rush into the paperwork of applying for certification in your target state, but don’t be misled, you are much more marketable with a certification for your new state in hand. For HR officers and school principals it let’s them know that there will be no hassles if they decide to hire you. Most will toss your vitae to the side if your certification is not in place no matter how good your education and experience appear to be. Some charters or privates do not require certification, but if you have what is needed to get certified in your target state then do it because (even for these schools) it makes you more credible and desirable. And one final reason to start the process now is that the transfer of certification can sometimes be a lengthy affair last from a few months up to a year or more depending upon the state.
2. Use the online applications required by school districts but also send letters of interest and vitae’s to individual principals.
The online application is a must these days. Most districts, and some privates and charters, rely on regional digital clearinghouses these days as their source for applicants. These systems provide a certain level of consistency to applicant files and prescreening. Even if you manage to get an interview outside of these systems, some districts may still require you to file an online application to fulfill contractual obligations with their teacher union. However, this does not mean that the old fashioned paper cover letter and vitae are useless. Depending upon your budget, it is worth sending these out to school principals in your targeted region introducing yourself. These cover letters should be brief (no more than three short paragraphs) and sent in the spring and mid summer. While the odds are not high that you will land a job right away, there is a chance that a principal or secretary will forward it to an HR officer or save it in a file of potential candidates and pull it out at some point, particularly in a time of unexpected need.
3. Apply for “anchor” positions.
Applying for a teacher interview from out of state has some limits. The reality is that there are just some things you cannot do as well from a remote location. In order to get to the state in which you ultimately want to land, you may have to take a position that is not your ideal but will help you to put your anchor down. Having an anchor position will allow you to get into your new state and then more effectively conduct a search for your dream job. So stop applying exclusively for the jobs that you want and start looking at jobs that will “work” for the time being. Whether it is the type of school (private, charter, or public), setting (suburban, rural or urban), a long commute, or even applying for positions you may be overqualified for such as teacher assistant positions (See Chapter 3 of The Insider’s Guide to The Teacher Interview to learn the increasing advantages of being a teaching assistant even if you have a teaching degree) you should start looking at situations that are not your dream job, but you could live with for a year or two. From this anchor position, you can start to make connections within the local teaching community and establish visibility. Financial flexibility certainly comes into play and is different for everyone, but taking an anchor position may be a necessary step if you are truly set on getting to a new state.
4. Use the troops already on the ground.
If you have any friends or family (particularly in the field of education) who are in the state you are targeting, use them as a part of your marketing team. Let them know in writing that you are actively searching for a teaching position in their area and that you need their help. Send them both a digital version of your vitae as well as a few copies printed to quality paper. Ask them to share with anyone they might know in the teaching or school administration community. Ask them to mention your interest to as many of their friends as possible. So often it is word of mouth within the teaching community, particularly when a teacher is needed on short notice that results in a closer look by the people who do the hiring.
5. Plant as many seeds as possible, but don’t annoy.
As you have probably gathered from the points made above, the key to landing a teacher interview from out of state is about creating as much exposure as possible for your teaching candidacy with the hope that each and every seed you plant increases the chance you will get a teacher interview. You can never tell where and when these seeds will grow. The administrators in our consortium could tell you a thousand stories where incredible timing or chance resulted in these seeds taking hold in the most unlikely of places and resulting in a candidate landing a job. The one thing you do not want to do is irritate connections you may have within the teaching community or school administrators you are approaching. School administrators in particular face thousands of decisions in any given day and are stretched farther than ever. Chances are that if you sent them a vitae that they have received it and have decided whether to discard it, file it or move it on to someone else who might make use of it. A lack of response does not mean that they did not receive your communication. A follow-up a few months down the road might be appropriate but repeated attempts to solicit them in person, digitally, or by mail could lead them to cross you off their list and eliminate the possibility they will refer you to other openings.
Again, one of the essentials you should have going into any teacher interview is the book that has changed the teacher interview game forever, The Insider’s Guide to the Teacher Interview written by school administrators who do the hiring, it is the essential handbook on exactly what to expect during the teacher interview.
Good luck to you Amber! Good luck to all of you following The EDU Edge. Please come back and let us know how you make out so we can all learn together.
Yours in a Partnership in Learning,
The EDU Edge
(Please feel free to contact us with additional questions … we’re on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and you can email us at info@theEDUedge.com. Tell us what interview obstacles you’re dealing with and trying to overcome. We’ll do our best to respond and try our best to help you.)