Covid-19 has forced both UK and international schools to change the way they recruit teachers and school leaders.
Time will tell the extent to which we return to face-to-face interview processes but the likelihood is that the recruitment process, from the initial long-listing to the first-round interviews, will be digital and “screen to screen”.
In this context, school leaders are going to look for other forms of evidence of excellence to discriminate between applicants or single out individuals worth approaching about new roles. So, what should savvy job seekers be doing to prepare themselves for this new recruitment world?
Building your personal brand
Here are some tips on how you can build your personal teaching brand.
1. Build a digital portfolio
Professional portfolios have been part of the recruitment landscape for art and DT appointments for some time. However, they are increasingly being requested as part of the wider teacher recruitment process.
Your portfolio should include videos of you teaching lessons (where data and privacy issues allow), running Inset sessions, a gallery of your best classroom displays, samples of your very best lesson plans and resources, and samples of student work (suitably anonymised).
One way to curate your own video lesson content is to set up a YouTube channel. This doesn’t have to be publicly searchable but it is an effective way to keep all your videos in a place that potential employers can access.
Compiling your digital portfolio need not be an onerous project and, given that home learning has meant that teachers have had to shift to digital anyway, you have probably been creating plenty of useful content over the past months. It will just be a case of collating and collecting what you already have.
2. Rethink application forms
Having amassed a portfolio of multimedia material, the application form is the perfect time to showcase it.
Going forward, a well-drafted letter and the school application form will be the bare minimum. Creative candidates will embrace the opportunities that electronic application processes bring in order to stand out from the crowd.
While text demonstrates your level of literacy, why not consider embedding media links into your letters of application to demonstrate what you and your students can do.
Yes, the school leaders who read your application want to know that you a literate and can be relied upon to communicate in an appropriate manner, but they also want to know that you are tech- and media-savvy, and that you have a high level of 21st-century communication skills.
3. Be part of the conversation
Teachers and school leaders should be aware of the debates and issues that are current within education, and headteachers often explore these at interviews, particularly for middle and senior leadership roles.
Twitter is a great place to start to become part of the conversation because it is possible to see discussions play out from a safe distance before entering the fray. It is a useful “ideas exchange” and a great place to learn from more experienced teachers and school leaders.
As a school principal, I encourage my senior staff to be part of the conversation, contributing to online debates, writing articles, giving webinars and speaking at conferences – after all, you never know who might be paying attention.
4. Build your LinkedIn profile
This is also the case for LinkedIn, which offers a similar benefit but in a slightly less “noisy” atmosphere.
As a platform, LinkedIn is a great way of maintaining an ongoing professional presence, recording qualifications and training, and it is the easiest way for employers to find out anything extra about the candidate.
LinkedIn has matured significantly from just being an online CV – its great strength is that it combines many of the features of Twitter (short professional posts and comments) and a blog (publishing full-length articles), and that these remain as part of your professional profile.
Thus, it is a one-stop-shop that allows you to network, communicate and put your CV out there all at once to help bring your expertise to the attention of a wide and discerning audience.
5. Build an area of expertise
Some teachers take promoting what they do and being part of the conversation to the next level and develop a personal brand that extends beyond their roles in school. These are often enthusiasts, who have specialist expertise and knowledge that they wish to share with the wider educational community.
Fostering a reputation beyond your own school is one way to develop your career without moving: it can open up opportunities for specialist roles (for example, in supporting digital learning, wellbeing and inclusion) and pave the way for promotion and progression.
I have been fortunate to work with several colleagues who have developed online sites as an outlet for their professional passions and interests. For many it has supplemented what they do in school, for some it has provided the springboard to something new.
Mark S Steed is the principal and chief executive of Kellett School, the British School in Hong Kong; and previously ran schools in Devon, Hertfordshire and Dubai. He tweets @independenthead