Top tips for January job hunters

New year, new you and…new job? Well, that's the plan. Here are our tips to achieve it

Grainne Hallahan

Teacher recruitment: Tips for finding a new teacher job in January

Once you’ve packed away your classroom decorations and wiped the last December date from your whiteboard for 2020, your mind will be on your holiday: mince pies and Netflix marathons for the next two weeks. Bliss!

However, if, like many other teachers across the UK, you’re also thinking about finding more than just a sales bargain in January, then you might need to schedule in some time to get new-job ready. Here are our tips:

Tips for finding a new teacher job

1. Do a SWOT analysis on yourself

Something I recommend to all job hunters: take stock of what you’ve got and where you want to go next.

We have a really handy video explaining what you need to do here:

 

2. Get reading

If you want something impressive to discuss in your interview, why not brush up on your professional reading, and get your nose into a good book on education.

Jill Berry, education expert and former headteacher, suggests picking titles that will expand your existing knowledge. "If you’re applying for a teaching post, I'd recommend the recent book from Jon Tait, Teaching Rebooted (Bloomsbury, 2020). Whether you are an early career teacher or a seasoned member of the profession, this is a book which covers a range of areas of professional knowledge and learning,” she says.

For aspiring school leaders, Berry suggests something more whole-school operational. “Bennie Kara's A Little Guide for Teachers: diversity in schools (SAGE, 2020) is a balanced, thoughtful and highly practical exploration of inclusive environments. And Emma Turner's Let's Talk About Flex: flipping the flexible working narrative for education (John Catt Edu, 2020) is a knowledgeable and entertaining treatment of the subject of flexible living and working.”

3. Sign up as school governor

For a teacher keen to progress, an understanding of whole-school operations is essential. One way to get that is to sign up as a school governor.

Caroline Spalding, assistant head at a secondary school in Derbyshire, found that her experience of working as a governor in the primary sector gave her really useful insights. “Being a governor can help you have a wider view of the school as part of a local community and engage with school issues at a strategic level, such as the development of the school vision or deployment of school funds,” she says. “You might also choose a school that enables you to gain knowledge of a different phase or school type.”

4. Prime your references

You’re going to need to give two references (three if you’re applying for a school with religious character), so it’s a good idea to let them know.

Kaley Riley is head of English, drama and media and whole-school literacy lead at Shirebrook Academy in Derbyshire. She believes honesty is essential when you’re job hunting.

Nobody wants a surprise reference request for a member of their team, whom they very likely value,” she says. “If you ask their permission to be used a reference, then it shows that you trust them. Otherwise, it's all a bit cloak-and-dagger, and what once was probably a solid relationship will crumble.”

5. Do your school research

Research is the sort of task that can take hours (that’s why you always book a computer room for Year 9 to do it at the end of term), but don’t let it eat into your holiday. Pick three schools and spend an hour reading about them. Add it to a spreadsheet.

We have a video giving tips on what to look for here:

 

6. Read job specifications – even if you can’t apply

If you’re waiting for a head of department role to come up but so far nothing has materialised, change the postcode on your search and find one in a different part of the country, and read that job specification. This is good preparation for when one does come up in your area.

7. Re-read your last application

You’re probably going to go back to your last application letter (after all, it worked out well for the last job you applied for!) rather than starting from scratch. 

However, before you launch into an upgrade, read the whole thing from start to finish and think about what your major considerations are when it comes to updating it.