12 top tips for job hunters amid the coronavirus crisis

Tes recruitment editor Grainne Hallahan looks at how candidates can find, apply for and land their next teaching role

Grainne Hallahan

Coronavirus: Schools will remain open to some pupils, despite the prime minister's announcement of strict isolation measures

If you’re looking to make a career move this year, don’t let the worldwide lockdown put the brakes on your plans.

School closures might mean the recruitment process looks a little different this year, but schools are still hiring and vacant positions are quickly being filled.

According to school leaders there are still lots of job opportunities out there. We also spoke to plenty of candidates who have already been appointed.

So fear not, the right job is out there. To help you on your way to your dream job, here are some of our top tips:

Before you apply

1. Brush up on school location

Pre-application visits are really important, but with lockdown they are now impossible. Instead, make use of Google Maps, Street View, and download everything you can from the school website.

Cat Welford is an English teacher from Ashford in Kent who has secured a new role during lockdown and she advises doing all you can to familiarise yourself with a school you are interested in applying to. 

"Contact the schools," says Welford. "We can’t visit them at the moment, but I think it would be a really good idea if you could email the schools with any questions you might have because then you can use that in your application and your interview."

2. Have a chat with someone

Look for details of the main contact on the teaching advertisement, and call to chat about the job. Now schools are closed it’s more difficult to get a feel for a school by asking around, so it helps to speak to as many members of staff at that school as possible.

3. Get a flavour of school life

On the school website, search for school newsletters and calendars and read them to get a flavour of school life.

4. Investigate key policies

Because a pre-visit is out of the question, ask to see a copy of the discipline policy, and ask questions about how behaviour and rewards are handled at the school.

You’re unlikely to be able to see any teaching in action, so instead gather as much information as possible to make your judgement on how the leadership team handles behaviour.

5. Compare Ofsted reports

When you look up the Ofsted report, don’t just read the single report in isolation. Compare it to previous years, and also to neighbouring schools.

This is particularly important if you’re moving out of area. For private and independent schools, you should find and read the latest Independent Schools Inspectorate report.

6. Be patient.

The recruitment period may have been a little slow getting started this year, but there are lots of schools looking for new teachers.

Daisy Hooper is a recently qualified English teacher from London. Having recently landed a new role, she explains why it’s important to stick with it.

“Be patient and keep the faith,” says Hooper, “the right school for you is definitely out there and I would strongly advise you not to lower your expectations because of the current situation. There absolutely is a department and a school out there for you, it’s just a matter of time.”

When it comes to the application process, Tes has lots of advice to help you stand out (for the right reasons). Check out our guide to writing a cover letter, or have a look at how to craft the perfect personal statement.

The online interview

1. Prepare properly

Before your interview starts, set your laptop or tablet up on a high position  stack books underneath or place it on a high table. If you’re looking down at your camera, you will fall foul of ‘looming face’.

2. Put eyes on your laptop so you know where to look

If you’re using a laptop with a built-in camera, stick googly eyes by the lens (but not over it) to remind yourself where to look. 

There is nothing as off-putting as video chatting to someone who isn’t making eye contact  this is a great tip given to us by Sarah Cullen on our career clinic series.

3. Make sure you won't be interrupted

At the start of the interview, put your phone on silent, and turn off the notifications on your computer that you have on for emails and messenger  in fact, I would have all the windows and tabs closed down with the exception of your video conferencing programme, and print out any notes you want to refer to.

Think about buying an external microphone. According to international school CEO Mark Steed: “A USB extension microphone will improve the sound quality and will allow you to sit further away from the camera. They are also very cheap to buy. Just don’t forget to test the sound levels.”

Here he gives lots more useful tips on how to ace an online interview.

4. Dressing properly - but no stripes

For the interview wear something smart, obviously, but also- avoid stripes! In fact, generally steer clear of any fussy patterns.

You’ve got to remember that this is going to be on lots of different monitors and you can end up with that weird strobing effect. It’s much better to stick to plain block colours.

5. Avoid causing unnecessary noise

If you wear a watch or jewellery that might clang or jangle, then take it off. Small noises can get picked up on the microphone and be really distracting.

6. Have a friendly face

Practise sitting there with a relaxed smile although it will feel unnatural, it will make you look far more approachable and create a better first impression.

WATCH: How to prepare for video interview tasks

WATCH: How to set up for a video interview

For more easy-to-digest interview advice, check out these two-minute tutorial videos. We also have a whole section of the site dedicated to helping you finding your next role.

You can also check out our Careers Advice section for more.

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Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan is Tes recruitment editor and senior content writer at Tes

Find me on Twitter @heymrshallahan

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