Job Search Series: First Steps

Whether you’re looking for your first job, or you’re experienced and looking for a change, searching for a new job can be very stressful.  But as someone who has gone through the process four times, I hope the tips I can share can minimize your stress.  This post is the first in my job search series, and it will cover your first steps.  

music teacher job search series: first steps


Now it’s time to make or update that resume! Back in 2010 when I applied for my first teaching job, I rode the struggle bus using Microsoft Word and Times New Roman font to create my resume. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (actually, never use Word; PowerPoint all the way), but there are so many more options these days. On Teachers Pay Teachers and Etsy are phenomenal resume templates, such as this one and this one. Choose a style that works for you, but make sure you use the same fonts and style throughout. If you stay consistent from your resume to your cover letter to your references to your portfolio, you make your name more memorable.


As soon as you’ve decided to start looking, I recommend finding references.  It will take at least two weeks for most supervisors to provide letters of recommendation, so taking this step first is a good idea.  Good references for new teachers would be professors, co-operating teachers, or anyone you’ve worked with in internship or volunteer positions.  My first references were my co-operating teachers, my Music Education department chair, and a supervisor from my volunteer work with summer music camps.  If you are experienced, I recommend asking principals, Fine Arts chairs, department heads, mentor teachers, or anyone who has observed and possibly evaluated your teaching. I have used all of these options as references throughout my career.


When applying for multiple jobs, it can be tough to juggle all of the information.  I suggest creating a document to keep track of it all.  My first round of job applications, I received a call from a district that wanted to set up an interview with me, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember anything about the position. I had applied for so many jobs that my brain couldn’t hold all of the information! Thankfully, I was able to pull up my spreadsheet to go over the information in time for the interview. For me, an excel spreadsheet does the trick. You can document any information you’d like, but here’s a sample of my spreadsheet.

job search excel spreadsheet


In my experience in Illinois and Arizona, there are state education job bank websites.  These job banks are a great place to start your search. However, a lot of districts only post on their own website. Make sure you check the Human Resources page of prospective districts for posted vacancies.

If there is a specific district you are interested in working for, apply even if there isn’t a job posted. As a matter of fact, my current job was not posted when I applied. I saw a job fair posting for the district, knew it was a district I’d be happy to work in, and applied even though it didn’t mention any music teacher vacancies. Interviewing at the job fair was great, because the interviewers could see that I genuinely wanted to work in the district, not just fill a vacancy. It turned out that the district offered me a position before they posted it online. Now I love where I am! If there is a district or school that you are really interested in, apply regardless of posted vacancies. You never know!


The next post in this series will be all things interview prep. There’s so much information out there about teacher interviews, but I’ve noticed it’s hard to find music teacher interview help. To read my post on nailing your music teacher interview, click here.

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