Here’s some information I have collected about the job application process. The most valuable advice I have been given is ‘to learn from others experiences and don’t make their mistakes’. But this hasn’t stopped me from making my own!
I do not claim to have the application process down by any means, but I have collected some great advice that I would like to share – maybe you know how to utilise it more effectively than me!
Protecting Your Professionalism
The TES Ultimate Job Seeking Guide (TES Jobseeking Guide) starts right at the beginning of the job application process with your professional image. The TES guide focus’ on the safe use of Facebook. Although most Head Teachers do not check Facebook, some do, so there are some basic steps you need to take to ensure your professional image is not affected by your personal life, and ensure you keep the two separate. The steps below are very simple and are not only beneficial when applying for jobs but making sure pupils, parents and colleagues view you as a professional too.
This is a must, make sure everything on your profile is set to ‘Friends Only’ rather than ‘Public’. I would also avoid using the ‘Friends of Friends’ setting because you never know what connections other people have – remember the seven degrees of separation. I think it’s really important to be sure about your security settings, so remove one of your friends and ask them to check your profile is all private, then add them again! I strongly recommend turning ‘Tag Suggestions’ off, this seemingly harmless feature could cause a bit of trouble for teachers. If you have this feature activated Facebook will suggest you when a friend uploads a photograph! If a pupil has a photo from sports day with you in the background and it suggests you… None of the tips below will help you!
If possible don’t use your full name. Pupils can easily search your name so try using a nickname or middle name to throw them off the scent. The flip side of this however, is that friends will find it harder to find you, if they don’t know your nickname.
You profile picture is public even if your profile is private, so it is important to choose your photograph carefully. As you can tell I would rather be too cautious than not cautious enough, therefore I have a profile picture which represents me but doesn’t have me in it.
Public or private profile aside, your choice of content is important. I live by the rule that if my boss or Granny saw this would I be embarrassed (or fired!)? If the answer is yes then I don’t post it. I know Facebook is a place for socialising and sharing, but it’s still ultimately a public space, so think about what you would share in a physical public space. Fail safe rule: NEVER post about work, school, colleagues, parents or pupils. End of.
Enhancing Your Online Image
While the TES guide discusses the importance of protecting your professional online image it doesn’t discuss the important role the internet can play in enhancing your online professional image. If a prospective employer is searching possible candidates online, you want to have a positive online presence to support your application. By an online presence I am referring to the respected and useful online services. The list below is not comprehensive list of networks available but the ones I use:
Twitter – I am long time tweet reader but I have only just started actually tweeting and I love it! I have always found it a great place to get ideas, resources and expertise, but since getting involved and tweeting I have also found it to be an incredibly supportive atmosphere which has challenged me to consider what I do, what I could do better and most importantly how I could do it better.
LinkedIn – It has transformed over the last couple of years and it is almost considered a professional social network, however I still use it as a mini CV. Your basic profile consists of your work history, qualifications and skills which can then be viewed by anyone.
About Me – With so many online services available it can be hard to keep track, both as a user and prospective employer. About Me is a central place to bring all of your profiles together to show others what services you are a part of. Just to note, I only use About Me for my professional services I haven’t included Facebook, Instagram, Fancy, etc, because they are my personal networks, and as I said before, it is important to distinguish between the two.
WordPress/Other blogging platforms – This is a different service from the others mentioned but blogging is so important to me and it’s a huge part of my professional development that I think its vital to share it with prospective employers.
Some of these services will take time to build up your content, but sites such as LinkedIn are a good place to start building your confidence, profiles and brand identity.
If you are considering using a variety of services to enhance your online presence you will need to consider your brand identity and ensure it is consistent across the web because it makes your brand recognisable. If you successfully create a positive brand it shows your professionalism, organisation, knowledge of the online world and gives your brand a bigger impact. Here are my tips for applying the theory to teaching networks:
Firstly, the issue of appropriateness. Choose a name which represents your professional image, not personal. I would choose a name as close to your own as possible but with so many people now on these services it’s hard to get your actual name, however you could try a variety of symbols, middle name, words related to your profession, to get something that’s right. Secondly there is the issue of consistency, try to get the same name to make you recognisable across a variety of services. Again, there will be problems of availability but try to build your brand with some consistency.
When you sign up for these services they will ask for contact information, notably your email address which will often be displayed so you can be contacted (with your permission). This is another part of your brand identity – using a professional email address which coincides with your name will continue the consistency across all networks.
As before, your choice of photograph should be representative of you but remain personal. If your photograph were a dress code, it would be smart casual. If you are a bubbly, smiley person don’t choose a straight-faced photograph because you think it looks more professional, you need to be representative of your brand. When you have chosen your photograph use it across all services. When you think of big companies like McDonalds, no matter what country you’re in when you see the big red sign with a yellow ‘M’ you know what you are going to get. That’s what you are aiming to create with your brand consistency – recognition.
If a service asks for a bio or short profile about yourself, this is your time to enhance your brand. Writing about your key strengths and teaching philosophies will influence people’s opinions about your brand. Therefore, it is vital to take your time, plan and figure out what you’re all about. Although the theme of brand consistency is about being consistent across all platforms, I am not going to insist on that with your bio/profile information. Depending on the service, you can determine the style of your bio/information. LinkedIn is a professional CV where you have the space to be more detailed whereas Twitter is a slightly more informal setting (but still professional!). The content of my bio differs across social networks but I try to keep the same philosophies running throughout.
The overall message is ‘make your online presence work for you, not against you’. Getting your name out there and showing your professionalism to support your application, could be the boost to see you through to the interview stage.
N.B. The information shared in this post has been selected from a wide variety of sources notably: TES Forums, TESS, Aberdeenshire Probationer Support Programme – Successful Applications and Interview Techniques, colleagues advice, The Standards for Full Registration, old university notes and personal experience!