Finding your first job in teaching

Every year, thousands of newly qualified teachers (NQTs) enter the job market for the first time.

We know this is an exciting but challenging time. Here are our tips to securing that all-important first role.

Plan ahead

  • Start thinking about your first job while you are still studying as an NQT.
  • Speak to the schools that you did your placements with (if you had a good experience) to see if they have any vacancies.
  • Consider your online profile – today’s digital age mean many candidates will be Googled prior to interview.

Focus your efforts & your application

  • Don’t go for scatter gun approach. Focus on quality, rather than quantity of applications.
  • Tailor your covering letter to each application, with reference to the job description and ideal candidate requirements.
  • Read it, and read it again to check for typos and silly grammatical errors.
  • Ask your mentor to read over it for you and make any suggestions.

But be as flexible as you can

  • If you’re not tied down, target vacancies in areas of high demand.The wider you cast your net, the more chance you have of landing your dream job.
  • Don’t dismiss the idea of supply teaching if September rolls around and you have yet to land a role.
  • Consider secondary subjects or age groups that are beyond your immediate experience, or indeed teaching abroad.

Everyone likes a show off (within reason)

  • Don’t shy away from sharing what you can do and what you have done – that’s in-class experience, as well as managing any school clubs or other practical experience with children outside of school.
  • Once you’ve secured an interview, be positive and show enthusiasm for teaching and your subject.
  • Be confident in your ability and your motivation to teach, but also show awareness and a willingness to learn.

Do your research

  • Ensure that you plan your visit when classes are in session and the children are there, rather than in the evenings when everyone has gone home.
  • Make detailed notes about what you’ve seen on the visit and who you have talked to
  • Make it your business to understand the school’s local community and news. Be able to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework.

It’s all about the right fit

  • Make it your mission to find the right school for you and avoid accepting the first role on offer if it’s not right.
  • During the interview ask about the mentor structure at the school, get information about what your timetable will look like, and be polite to everyone that you meet.
  • Prepare answers to the key questions that you are likely to be asked:
  1. Why do you want to work at that school?
  2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  3. What do you bring to the table in terms of background and experience?
  4. What support can you offer for extra-curricular activities?
  5. What is your personal teaching ethos and how does it fit for the school?
  • If your gut instinct is not happy, listen to it. You should be able to see yourself teaching there in the long term.