Beyond your résumé: Getting noticed and getting in

George Schaaff


What cancreative, qualifieduniversity teachers do to get noticed a competitive job market? The strategiespresented below, along with a little patience, can mean the difference between developing professionally and staying another year in your current position.

Be comfortable networking. Networking isnotglad-handing and having connections, but staying informed about the current employment climate. Greg Rouault of Konan University’s School of Management agrees: “Networking can help you to find out about the inner workings of a position andwhether its organizational nuances and quirks are things you’re prepared to deal with. You can also tailor your application to fit what they’re looking for. Then you’d be better prepared to address concerns that might come up in an interview.” Create a circle of communication with professionals who are in positions you can also see yourself thriving within.

Design applications to get interviews, not jobs. Application materials (an M.A., publications, et cetera)arenotqualifications. They are simplywhat will keep your applicationout of the shredder. Schools often separate applications into two piles from the start: complete and incomplete. The best way to make the first cut is to have everything requested in the initial posting together. Seemingly insignificant requests, when heeded, make the process of hiring you easier for those in charge. Think of your application’s completeness as a given, not a goal—that is how universities see it.

Have a perspective on the current state of language education.Many schools ask for a brief essay summarizing your opinion on the profession. Even if none of the positions youareapplying for specifically require it, write it. Modify it as your perspective changes. The act of writing about your teaching philosophy will enable you to articulate it in an interview, and will show employers that you’re a thinkerand a communicator.

In interviews, show—don’t tell.There’s no better way to articulate your valuethan by giving interviewersa mental picture of your strengths. Answer the question “What would you do?” with something you have actually done. Saying, “I think” and “I feel” isfine when you’re asked about thoughts and feelings, but nothing tells your story like your story itself. Saying “Here’s how I’ve dealt with that situation in the past” will reduce uncertainty in the minds of those doing the hiring and will set you apart from those who give safe responses. Share relevant anecdotes.

Don’t “sell” your qualifications.Peter Sterlacci, personal branding consultant and founder of BeYB <> says “focusing only on your credentials commodifies you by grouping you with others who offer the same thing—and people don't get excited about commodities.” Your qualifications are already on paper, so there’s no need to initiate a lengthy discussion on them. Let the interviewer ask about them—that’s her job. Yours is to tell her what she doesn’t already know, namely what you—and only you—can bring to the position. “By sharing your authenticity and unique promise of value,” Sterlacci says, “employers will get excited about how you can contribute in a unique and innovative way.”

These tips can give you the edge in finding a satisfying position, improve your chances of getting an interview, ensure that interviewers get a complete and accurate picture of you as a potential employee, and ultimately maximize your chances of landing the job.