I recently saw a post on Facebook from a private company that was selling interview advice and preparation as well as reviews of Standard Application Forms. Any company is entitled to do this but that is not the issue. Their post (since removed) read as follows:
“In recent days we have received messages from frustrated teachers noting that they have spent the summer applying for jobs but have yet to be called for interview. This is not normal. There is most definitely a problem. It is your application form. Feedback has indicated that teachers are getting called for 20% of the positions for which they apply. Details on how to have your application form analysed is available at [URL hidden]”.
I take issue with an ad such as this as it relies heavily on scaremongering. It also fails to acknowledge the realities faced by jobseeking teachers where one vacancy could draw in over a hundred applications. It ignores the reality for many teachers unknown to principals – you are more likely to be offered an interview for a position if you have previously subbed in the school or made a good impression during TP, so in cases such as this, it will be very difficult for an unknown teacher to secure an interview. The ad makes every effort to convince teachers that the only way for you to increase your chances for success is to engage with their services and part with your hard-earned money.
I view this approach as dishonest. It preys on the desperation felt by many unemployed teachers in the middle of August when it may seem like there is little prospect of securing a job for the beginning of September. I won’t identify the company but I will say that they charge €80 to review your Standard Application Form. I would recommend not engaging with such a service.
Here are my tips for securing employment:
- Be completely honest when answering the questions on the Standard Application Form. Stock answers supplied by private companies will not stand out in the right way. Instead, say what you really think. You know yourself better than a private company could know you. An honest answer that happens to fit in with a particular principal’s vision for a school could see you fitting in well with a school that suits your own outlook and values. A stock answer will not do this and will be seen for what it is.
- Proofread everything. It’s a terrible shame to miss out on an opportunity due to issues with spelling and grammar.
- Ask your family and friends to help you to enhance – not completely change – the message you are trying to send in your SAF.
- Join TextASub, SubSearch and any other subbing network. Visit schools that suit your outlook and values and leave your details with them. Make every effort to catch the principal, even for a minute, as they will be more likely to think of you before others when looking for a sub if they can put a face to a name.
- Attend your union meetings and speak up on something that is important to you. This is an excellent opportunity for networking with other teachers and principals and it’ll be a lot easier to talk face-to-face with a principal outside of the confines of their working day.
The above tips will cost you nothing to implement and will help you to come across as a lot more genuine. Paying €80 will not buy you success. Honesty, integrity and a genuine interest will get you there eventually, for the right reasons and in the right school for you.