All too often I hear from aspiring school leaders who are interested in applying for administrator positions right when school districts begin to post these positions. It is important to remember (at least in Massachusetts) that school districts post for principal positions as early as November and they fill many jobs by March. It is always a good idea for aspiring administrators to prepare themselves for the hiring process as soon as they can.
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” –Arthur Ashe
Here are three things that you can do during this summer to prepare for the job hunt:
1. Setup Informational interviews with administrators. Many administrators work during the summer, and there is a good chance that they would be willing to sit down with you for an hour or so to chat. So whether it is the principal of your school or an administrator in your area, reach out to a few of them and see if they would be willing to sit down with you over a cup of coffee or in their office. Regardless of whether they know you or not, I have found many principals and other administrators willing to sit down with aspiring leaders to share their story. Reach out to administrators who are new to their position as well as those who have been in the job for a long time.
Consider questions such as:
Why did you want to become an administrator? Do these reasons still hold true for you?
What was the hiring process like for you when you were looking for your first administrator position?
What was the interview process like for you when you were applying for this position? If you have been in this position for a while, what has the interview process been like for other new administrators in the school district?
What tips do you have for someone who is going to interview for an administrator position?
What is a typical day like for you?
What are some of the details of your job that you wish you knew before you started?
Are there aspects of your job that you spend much time doing that you didn't realize you would spend so much time on before you took the job?
What are some of the most significant issues that you are dealing with right now?
How do you create your budget?
How do you manage all of the demands of your day?
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were a new administrator?
While it is is excellent networking to sit down with local administrators, Google Hangout is an excellent tool to connect with administrators and have a "virtual coffee." Use this tool to communicate with the National Principal of Year or a principal in another part of the country or world whom you follow on social media. You would be amazed by how many people are willing to give up some of their time to help you reach your professional goal.
2. Work on your resume. Summer is an excellent time to have people review your resume and give you an honest assessment of whether you are ready for the next step and whether you describe your professional self well enough. During your sit, down with other administrators ask if they would look over your resume. Also, use the summer to think about ways that you can build your resume. Are there committees in your school that you can join in the fall or is there a project that you can work on with your principal in the fall? Look to gain experience for areas where you are least experienced. Perhaps ask some of your colleagues if you could observe them in the fall or reach out to your assistant principal to see if you could shadow them for the day.
3. Get on social media. Social media is one of the most effective ways to connect and learn from other educators.
Get on Twitter to learn from other educators. Participate in group chats such as #edchat to learn about what topics are on educator minds or #Leadupchat to connect with school leaders and other aspiring leaders. Many states have chats as well. In Massachusetts, we have #MSAAchat, the hashtag attached to the Massachusetts School Administrators Association. Use Cybrary Man's educational chat list to learn how to use hashtags and to find the right chat for you.
Get on LinkedIn to build your network. More and more school districts are looking on LinkedIn to recruit possible candidates. In fact, I applied for my current position after someone reached out to me on LinkedIn and asked me to consider using.
These few steps can make a huge difference before the hustle and bustle of September. Also, taking these few steps will build some momentum for you so that you will take further steps and take on new projects during the school year. Feeling prepared for a job search establishes confidence, and you will learn a lot along the way!