The best job I ever had was pitched to me from out of the blue by a former colleague. I wasn’t certain where it was located and I wasn’t sure if I was even ready for a move. It was the employment equivalent of a brilliant blind date.
Peter had moved to the school as head of department that summer and, within months, he alerted me to a position that he thought I’d be good at. He knew me, I trusted his professional judgement and I took the plunge.
Despite my initial reservations, I remained at that school, very happily, for nearly 10 years, being promoted several times.
Obviously, we can't all rely on having someone like Peter to alert us to our next dream job. How can you make sure that you are ready to open your door when opportunity comes knocking?
Embrace the network
Although the number of teachers in the UK is growing, because of Twitter, TeachMeets, blogs, multi-academy trusts and edu-newpapers, the world of education is getting smaller. Simply through my #WomenEd networks, I seem to know someone who knows someone (who may know someone).
If you are not yet part of a larger network, get involved. Sign up to Twitter and follow the hashtags. Let your Facebook friends know that you’re looking for a new adventure should one come along. Listen to the professional gossip on Inset days and courses.
This is a definite advantage at a time when moving to the wrong school can be disastrous. Few schools would introduce themselves as financially insolvent and unable to recruit, with results steadily heading south. Bearing this in mind, it is difficult to quite believe everything you’re told at interview.
Glossy brochures and flashy websites can fool you into thinking you’re walking into a successful, happy organisation. But, at the same time, some of the loveliest schools I’ve joined have been those in special measures. First appearances can be deceptive.
Succumb to peer pressure
I’ve been approached directly about jobs a fair amount, as a teacher, a middle leader, senior leader and now as headteacher. Similarly, I have also approached people I know about jobs that would suit them in my own school and in other schools I know well. It is always done with integrity; I’m never looking to fill spaces with bodies. Square pegs in round holes do not make a successful school.
Trust your friends and former colleagues to know you better than you think. If you are approached about a possible job, it is worth exploring. Put those doubts to the back of your head: you are ready; it is the right time; its not too far; you’re up for the challenge and you will be successful.
If a person you know is speaking passionately and positively about a school, that’s the best advert for it in the world. Go and look, let yourself imagine; you could be stepping into the perfect role where you can make the greatest difference to brilliant children.
Keziah is co-founder and national leader for #WomenEd. She is a member of the Headteachers’ Roundtable and an experienced school leader. She tweets at @keziah70.
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