Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tips for Improving Online Job Searches and Applications

Increasingly, school districts are using online systems to post openings, receive applications, and handle all of the recruiting/hiring communications. For employers, online recruitment reduces the cost and time of advertising in newspapers and the paperwork of managing the hiring process. Hiring committees can easily review, share and screen online application materials. There is no need for photocopying and mailing materials.

Job applicants can save time and money and stay organized by setting up a profile, centralizing application materials, submitting applications and conducting job searches. Gone are the days when you would hand-deliver or mail applications. Job applicants receive immediate emails when employers receive an application. Employers schedule Interviews online and send notifications as soon as the job has been filled.

With this technology, job applicants are submitting many more applications. And, employers are receiving a lot more applications. It’s still easy to make mistakes if you submit documents with poor formatting and improper written communication or you don’t enter correct information in your profile.

I contacted (an online teacher recruitment and hiring system founded in 2001) to get advice for job applicants about applying online. Here are 15 tips to improve online job searches and applications.

1. Read the job posting and qualifications carefully. Learn about the school/district’s mission, initiatives, hot topics and challenges. Don’t apply if you don’t meet the minimum qualifications.

2. When you create your profile, don’t type in ALL CAPS. Use upper and lower case letters properly. Be consistent in use of fonts. This will improve the readability of the application and professional image.

3. When entering information online, use your browser’s spell-checker. Firefox, Chrome and Safari browsers have built-in spell checking. For Internet Explorer, download and install the add-on called IE Spell.

4. In addition to the résumé, cover letter, and transcripts, determine what other information is required such as responses to essay questions.

5. Develop offline your résumé, cover letter and responses to application essays using a word-processing program such as Microsoft Word. Save the Word document for future job applications.

6. Proofread your documents carefully before inserting into the online application sections. Typographical errors, formatting problems, and low quality written communication will prevent you from moving to the next level of the hiring process - winning an interview!

7. When using Résumé Builder, build your online résumé from your Word document. Enter Education and Experience in the appropriate areas. Create separate sections for other information. SchoolSpring allows you to include custom sections and change the order of your résumé sections.

8. To improve the appearance of an online résumé (so it will stand out from other job seekers’ résumés), use HTML tags to create bold or italicized text and bulleted or numbered lists. You can learn basic HTML tags with a quick Google search. It takes about 5 minutes to learn.

9. For cover letters, use business letter-style formatting (e.g., block, semi-block). Customize the letter by addressing the letter to the school/district person in charge of hiring. In the body of the letter, relate to the specific job posting. Communicate your knowledge of the job, school/district’s mission, initiatives, hot topics and challenges.

10. Save a cover letter template in My Account so you can access and customize it when you apply for another job posting.

11. Add your state certifications in the My Account section. Many employers will search for qualified applicants with the appropriate certifications. You will miss opportunities if your certification information is missing or incorrect. When adding certifications, check off the correct job categories.

12. Before entering the name and contact information of references, contact them and request permission to use their names and to write letters of recommendation. Explain that they will receive an email for online submission or verification. Monitor your account. Follow up with your references to see if they received the SchoolSpring email requesting submission or verification of the letter. If the references do not receive an email with the link to the applicant’s page, you can re-send it . Also, letters must be entered as text (i.e., copy and paste from Word document). References cannot insert scanned JPEG or PDF files.

13. Create a Search Agent so employers can find you. Provide full access to this information (unless there is a reason not to release this information). Adding a personal introduction increases your success. When an employer conducts a search for an applicant, the search results place job applicants with introductions above those without introductions.

14. When searching for jobs, use Advanced Search. Narrow your search for teaching jobs that you meet the qualifications.

15. To increase your chances of winning a job, apply to many positions. Submit complete applications. Check your account often and monitor the progress of your applications.


Personal communications with Clark Baker, Lisa Barden, and Susan Fitzpatrick,

BOOKNOTE: See The Guide for information about different online teacher recruitment and hiring systems and the process of searching and applying for jobs online. Students in CURR 480 Winning a Teaching Position course set up online profiles and submit "fake" job applications before submitting their first real job application. To view the course flyer and register, click here.