Applying for a Position

The Initial Contact

When you decide to apply for a position, it helps to have made contact or have a relationship with the principal, deputy principal, or head of department before sending in your application. The principal of a major school is unlikely to be able to spend time with every applicant who wants to meet him/her. You are likely to deal with the principal’s PA who may see that putting you in touch with the principal is in the best interests of the school. It’s a good idea to phone the school to make an appointment to meet with the principal. If he/she isn’t available, ask to meet with the deputy principal, or head of department for the position you’re seeking.

It’s an ideal opportunity to ask important questions about the role and the school such as what levels you’d be teaching, what the school’s policy is regarding professional development, what particular curriculum emphasis the school pursues, as well as highlighting the contribution you‘ll be able to make to their school. This may be your only opportunity to impress a decision-maker before a shortlist of applicants is made. If you can convince an HoD that you can add value to their department, they are likely to want you on the interview shortlist. Be careful not to take up too much time if you visit.

Also remember that you’re interviewing the school as well.

Your CV

A quality CV is important to your chances of getting through to the next stage of the recruitment process (The Interview). It’s often a first impression so make sure your CV is clear and uncluttered. Your CV should:

  • be brief – ideally two to three pages, not more than four pages
  • include at the beginning - your contact details, qualifications, teaching experience (or placements) starting with your most recent, working backwards
  • demonstrate how certain aspects of your most recent role/s or placements relate to the position being applied for....examples of your successes and what you achieved on your practicums or in teaching will work most effectively
  • highlight your particular skills and strengths
  • include work experience within the last 10 years (no longer unless it’s particularly relevant to the role you’re applying for)
  • include referees who have seen you teach
  • use testimonials or quotes from your lecturers.

If you're seeking your first teaching position (a graduate from 2010 or later), and you're a New Zealand resident, you can receive a sample CV template: simply email Education Personnel, Like Education Personnel on Facebook and send a private message, or attend a Job Find seminar.

Your Cover Letter/Email

Your cover letter or email (either is usually acceptable) is very important to your chances of getting through to the interview, particularly if you don’t have a lot of teaching experience. The cover letter is where you need to 'tell your story' to the interview panel.

Research the school – you need to know about them and you’re aiming to impress. Doing your research upfront can make a big difference. A school's Education Review Office (ERO) report is a quick and easy place to find information about the school. Check the school’s website – learn about what’s important to them. You could also ring the school’s relevant management team member and ask questions about the school and position prior to the interview. This shows the school that you’re conscientious and proactive.

In your cover letter/email explain how the experiences you have, both teaching and non-teaching, are relevant and important for this role. Focus on your particular strengths and skills and provide any other information on why you’d be an asset to their school eg, a love of coaching sports, taking extra curricular drama clubs, kapa haka etc.

Keep it brief; try and keep your letter to one printed page or 4-5 paragraphs in an email message. Always tailor each application (CV and cover letter) to the position you’re applying for. It’s clear to management staff and recruitment agencies when this hasn’t been done.

Template cover letters are provided as part of the Job Find seminars.

Also read about Job seeking for Māori and Pasifika

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