The Hiring of Teachers in the SDA System
A well-written effective resume, accompanied by a one page personalized cover letter, can be one of your most important tools in making the right impression on a prospective employer. Both the resume and the cover letter should be kept on file in your computer, where they can be easily updated and modified, and only original laser-printed copy on quality white paper should be used when printing it.
The letter and resume, however, are only one part of a process. Personal contacts, telephone calls, and e-mail are appropriate in most instances. Be professional in both your approach and your appearance as you make contact and are interviewed. Be careful to avoid undue familiarity with a prospective employer, using formal titles with last name, unless encouraged to do otherwise .
The following observations from a teacher who was successful in getting a music position in an academy may be helpful in providing some insight about the reality of how principals at many schools approach the challenge of locating a music teacher.
I think I learned a great deal about getting jobs from all this. One thing I learned is the value of the telephone. You might pass this along to those who are graduating or who are still looking from last year. My principal here has about one hundred applications from all over the country in his desk drawer for various teaching positions. He doesn't really know where to start.
First he kind of tosses names around with old buddies or just about anybody who happens to be hanging around the office. "Know any good music teachers?" There is a lot of casual talk about various people that the Bible teacher or the P.E. teacher happened to like from some past school and there is the usual speculation about so & so who, it is rumored, is thinking of possibly wanting to relocate. Very seldom does this get confirmed unless the principal is really interested in this person.
When he gets a chance, he might leaf through his bewildering mass of application letters and forms again wondering who would really know-about this or that person. He makes a phone call or two but doesn't catch anybody in, or he may decide to write a letter but, after all, he is busy with the end-of-school-year-rush and so puts it off once again.
About this time his phone rings and a cheerful voice starts asking about the job. Most principals are relieved that they are able to find out about you without much effort on their part. Once you have established for sure that there is an opening, then what to say? The principal probably doesn't know anything about music, so what is there to talk about?
You start digging right into business with low-pressure questions. How many students in band this year? How many in the school? What is the schedule for the groups like? What about equipment and rehearsal facilities?
Most principals I've talked to open up right away and brag a bit about their school and its potential for a fine music program. If you really want the job you will enthusiastically agree. If he doesn't say that, then you bring it up, like, "Sounds to me like there is real potential for a 'bang-up music program at your school." That makes them have real warm feelings about you.
Then while there still hot you say, "Why don't you give (your major professor, or someone who is well known in the principal's region for music teaching) a call at _________ College (University) or academy near him) and get a little more information about me." If he does (you provide the phone number), and you get a good recommendation, then you have about a 1000% better chance of landing that job than anybody else who just wrote a letter (Not to say that you should neglect the letter writing!)
Late in the spring or early summer, the open season on experienced teachers usually ends. I haven't talked to one principal who would waste the time of day talking about new graduates until all possibilities of getting someone with experience are exhausted.
The job market today (2003) is one of the best in several years since there have been and will be a lot of retirements. Principals are actually willing to consider all possibilities since there is a significant shortage in music teachers in both public and private schools.