Networking: Old Style and New

Jack Kronser has recently retired as Director of Human Resources at Aurora Public Schools near Denver, Colorado. He has hired hundreds of teachers.

jack kronserAmong the many skills needed to be successful in the teaching profession is the ability to navigate networks. Networking is defined  as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically, the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.”

Career opportunities in any profession are impacted by networks. Teaching is no exception. Long before official word gets out regarding job vacancies, word of potential career opportunities are out in the network, both formally and informally. For someone just starting out in teaching, or desiring to make a move (up or laterally), it is important to be networked as well. How do you create your network and become included in the networks you desire?

  • Field Experiences. Prior to and including your student teaching, you probably spent time in five or six different schools on “field experiences.” Teachers, principals, and support staff you met or observed need to be a part of your network. Keep a file of their names, positions, and contact information.
  • Student Teaching. Everyone knows how important student teaching is for launching your career. But did you make it a point to meet and talk with as many teachers, staff, and administrators as you could while you were student teaching? Did you attend trainings or meetings outside the building where you student taught—and meet more teachers and staff? Stay in touch with these people. Add all of them to your file.
  • Principal and Assistant Principal Contacts. Get to know the principal and assistant principal in the building where you student teach. Reaching out to them is the first step in your being able to demonstrate your qualifications which can lead to job opportunities or recommendations to other administrators. Add them to your file.
  • Professional Organizations. Become active in teacher organizations like KDP and the organization for whatever you teach, such as the National Council for Teachers of English. Most of these content-area associations have student memberships and can help you learn who the well-respected teachers in that area are. If you become active, you will gain skills you can add to your résumé and you will meet people from all areas of the country or state you can add to your file.
  • Seminars/Job Fairs. Teacher job fairs (at your college or in communities) are one of the very best places to personalize your job search process. Many new hires first made connection with a school district at an education job fair. Add specific names, emails, phone numbers, and district information for everyone you talked with to your file.
  • Social Networks. Take advantage of social networks like LinkedIn to let your availability and qualifications be known and to find openings. Use your Facebook page in a professional manner. Google yourself to see what an HR Director will see.

Join me for a training webinar on networking as part of the Job Search Summit on Saturday, February 28 at 5 p.m. (EST). See the rest of the line-up and find out how to get a résumé review in the Job Search Summit.

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