It’s perhaps fair to say that many teachers choose the traditional routes when looking for their next job: recruitment agencies, job boards, newspaper adverts and school websites are just a few examples. However, as our careers advisory service often explains to candidates, it can’t be forgotten that networking is a fantastic way to not only seek out new employment now, but also build contacts to support your career in the long term. So how can you use this to your advantage?
Events are a great way to not only network, but also develop your professional skills. For example, there are many planned events throughout the year – both free and paid for – which are designed to bring together like-minded individuals to discuss trends and changes in the sector. These range from training days to careers fairs, both of which can benefit your next move significantly.
As a case in point, our careers advisory service team was recently heavily involved in the Sutton Coldfield Careers Fair held on Friday 18th July. This event was hosted by the Rt. Hon Andrew Mitchell MP from Westminster and over 40 employers attended the event. During the day we not only took part in presentations and panel discussions, but our experts were also on hand to provide an array of careers advice, interview skills training to individuals as well as give details of current roles we’re working on. Those in attendance were able to not only gather new contacts, but also identify job opportunities and submit CVs all in one place.
Education-specific training events both enable you to network with like-minded individuals who could someday become a potential employer, and can also look good on your CV. Demonstrating that you are committed to your own continual development will show a potential hirer that you are a dedicated individual and make you stand out from the crowd. That’s not to say you should take part in every training course available, but those relevant to the direction you want your career to take will certainly be valuable.
These are a great way to not only grow your contact base and develop your knowledge, but also get face-to-face interaction with a number of potential employers. In the education arena there are many conferences designed to bring together teaching professionals and schools to network, including the annual English UK teachers’ conference.
However, it’s important to pick which ones you attend wisely. There is such an array of conferences both across the UK and indeed the globe that it can be difficult to know which will be best suited to your needs. Before registering to attend don’t just focus on the content on offer, review which education representatives will be there. If there are a number of schools in attendance that appeal to you as a potential employer, then it’s highly recommended you go to the conference.
There are also a number of sector specific networking groups – both on and offline – which provide access to peer advice and an array of contacts which can help in your job hunt. For example, taking part in groups such as the London Global Teacher Network can be hugely beneficial.
Not only do platforms such as this allow you to communicate with multiple professionals across the globe to seek advice, but they also give you the chance to establish yourself as a knowledgeable individual among other influential experts. If, for example, you’re participating in a key discussion around teaching maths to students with special education needs (SEN) and your comments stand out to the network, it’s more likely that other members will think of you when a maths SEN role becomes available.
If, as with the example above, the network is connected online, the impact on your time will be minimal. However, just as you would with conferences, it’s important to consider which will be most beneficial for you, your job hunt and your career.
While all of the above options will be useful in building your contacts and potentially finding your new dream role, the benefits of keeping up this activity for your future career progression also shouldn’t be overlooked. In the first instance, such events and conferences will help you develop your skills and will give you access to best practice advice. Secondly, maintaining your presence among industry influencers will keep your name at the top of the list for a variety of potential employers. And finally, by keeping a high profile presence and contributing to discussions, it won’t be long before you can position yourself as a key spokesperson in your chosen field.
Words: Azam Mohammed, Managing Director of Capita Education Resourcing