It may only be November, but now is the time to start thinking about finding your first job. Gone are the days when trainees could leave job hunting until the summer months and still find the post of their dreams.
With vacancies in some sectors and parts of the country increasingly hard to come by, it pays to start your planning early. Here are some tips to get you started:
KEEP YOUR CV UNDER REVIEW
You probably worked hard at putting your curriculum vitae together when you applied for your teaching course. Don't let it stagnate. Keep it under review and add useful information. Include details of your school placements. Did you learn any new skills during the course? Have you added the details of your degree?
GET THE WORD ON THE STREET
Job prospects differ across the country. It is commonly thought that there are more jobs for newly qualified teachers in London than in the South West or North East. Ask your tutor and the teachers in school. Don't be afraid to ask the head what his or her view of the market is. If there are glum faces and falling rolls in your schools, jobs may be harder to come by than where there is a housing estate being built nearby. Get your course tutor to tell you how last year's trainees fared. If you see some them hanging round college, it may be a sign that jobs are difficult to find locally.
WATCH THE MARKET
Though you aren't applying for posts, look through the jobs pages of The TES, or on its website: www.tesjobs.co.uk. As a trainee primary teacher, you may have to apply through the pool system. Investigate their deadlines; you may be able to complete forms over Christmas.
With competition likely to be fierce for some jobs this year, it may become easy to feel depressed if you get a string of rejections. Don't let your feelings affect your work in the classroom. Being rejected doesn't mean you are a poor teacher. It just means that there are more applicants than jobs.
Someone else had something the school wanted that you didn't on this occasion. Next time, it could be you.
WHEN TO START APPLYING?
It is best to start applying from the second half of next term, at the same time as keeping an eye on the deadline for local authority pool schemes.
Until the end of May, you will be competing with existing teachers looking to change jobs, but don't be put off. If this year is anything to go by, the bulk of posts will appear in April and early May, although there is a break over the Easter holidays. Be prepared to complete lots of application forms. Remember, each one will be your first contact with that reader. Even if you have completed many forms, don't become sloppy and slapdash - your form will be rejected immediately. Ask someone to check your draft letter of application for grammar, spelling and punctuation. If you have built up a good relationship with your teachers and tutors, they will often offer advice.
TALK TO YOUR CAREERS' SERVICE
Many careers' services in colleges are used to advising students about courses to train as a teacher. They can also help with advice on the job market and how to complete application forms effectively. They will often have sessions and tips on presentation and filling in application forms.