It's only February but the job-hunting season is under way. Yes, if you're looking for a teaching job for September, you shouldn't hang around. You need to start the search now - competition is fierce.
You can begin to get a feel for the job market even before you decide to apply by keeping an eye on The TES jobs pages or website. Is there a demand in the part of the country where you would like to teach? Many people want to work where they trained, which is a problem for those at St Martin's in Lancaster, for example, or Exeter - the northwest and the southwest have the fewest vacancies. So how far should you spread your net?
There are three ways to get a job: applying direct to a school in response to an advert; going through a local authority pool; or through personal contact. The latter is the best and easiest, so make a great impression wherever you go, and you might land a job in your teaching practice school.
Many local authorities use a pool system for new teachers. It's an efficient way for schools to choose new staff without the expense, time and effort of doing it themselves. It's good for you, too, as you won't be in competition with people with years of experience.
Pools vary in how they work. Some have a rigorous application and interview process; others just add your details to a database so that schools can select you for an interview if they like what they read. Others do a bit of both -running interviews for the primary pool but just keeping the secondary people on a database for heads to tap into. Look at local authorities' websites to find out how they work. Many (Sheffield, Harrow) have closed their books but others, such as Milton Keynes, stay open until February 26. Some (Medway, Lambeth) keep going most of the year.
By and large, you'll probably find that the best schools to work in have the fewest vacancies because teachers are so happy they don't leave, except for promotion. Ask around to find out which schools are the loveliest to work in. They may not be the brightest stars in the league tables or the ones with the easiest pupils, but they'll have a fabulously friendly, supportive staff and that's what really matters. You need a place where you fit in and can develop, especially at the start of your career Sara Bubb is an education consultant specialising in induction. She regularly answers questions on our forums at www.tes.co.ukstaffroomnew_teachers