One of the most commonly asked questions I get from readers involves getting a job in the art education field. With the jobs being few and far between, and the economy down, finding a job as an art teacher can be increasingly difficult. It doesn’t help that there are only a few or one art teachers in each building! Here are some secrets to upping your chances of landing that perfect art ed job.
Marketing yourself is about taking what you do best, and making it visible to the world. Think about what do you do that is different. I want you to think of one of two things you do really really well within the field that are very specific. This might be advocating to parents, adapting lessons for special needs students, or a ceramics program you took from the ground up in your past school. Highlighting these wonderful things can set you apart from the crowd and make you different then the average candidate.
Do some research on personal branding. In a world were everyone blends together, you must brand yourself as the expert in SOMETHING in order to stand out. I remember when we hired a new teacher at our school and everyone was buzzing about this new teacher- supposedly she was a whiz at differentiation and everyone was anxious to see her in action. How did she get this title? She marketed herself as an expert in this area. It happened to be appealing to the selection committee and she got the job!
Write GREAT Cover Letter-
Before you get the interview, the only way the selection committee will know about you is through your cover letter and resume. The cover letter, in my eyes, is equally as important as your resume. The way the cover letter is written is absolutely huge. This is the chance to get away from the generalized stuff about passion for kids, blah blah blah and talk about something exciting and unique. (See above) This is the chance to talk about your one thing that you do really well. Don’t go into too much detail, you can do that once you land the interview, however if the letter is too generalized it will go to the bottom of the pile for sure. This is the only chance you get for potential employers to hear your voice. Be bold and be the authority on something. They will take note.
Construct a More Creative Resume-
The look of your resume is huge. What will set it apart? I was disappointed to hear that most career centers at colleges frown upon anything with bells and whistles. They want you to use white paper, black font, Times New Roman, etc. Now, I think some resumes can look tacky with too much frill, however, what if you did something tasteful, professional but different enough to help you stand out from the crowd? Fonts, color schemes, content organization, white space, headings, and consistency is absolutely huge to stand out with a resume. I like to use the same color schemes, fonts and logos on both my cover letter and resume for consistency. This is another step in branding yourself. I helped my neighbor with her resume and cover letter she got 2 interviews that week and it wasn’t even in education. I was also told by an HR rep they planned on re-doing their own resume to match mine. I used the program on a Mac called Pages to make my resume.
There are so many new creative resume platforms out there with graphics, visuals, and even CSS codes to capture a video of yourself for the committee to link to. Why not try it? Don’t you think HR people are bored out of their minds? Give them something to remember. It might just land you the job. Would you want to look at black and white Times New Roman all day? I didn’t think so!
Here are some of my favorites and what I would grab from them to may my resume better if I was you!
The pie chart on the right is a nice visual way to break down a skills set you have.
Although this resume is very causal and I wouldn’t recommend talking about beer like he does (ha) I really like the timeline on the right side as a way to chronicle things you have done, such as presentations at conferences, exhibited in an art show or won an award.
I love the organic nature of this resume. The “roads” will lead the potential employer to the different paths you have created for yourself, while still maintaining a professional look.
The head is a little creepy here, however, the labeling nature of the content really helps to organize this individual’s skills in a way that is much easier to read then a long run on paragraph, don’t you agree?
In education, we typically write a Curriculum Vitae, which is a bit longer than a resume and showcases many different types of publications, research and conferences the educator may have participated in. This is what I have- A Vitae- I like the way this individual above used icons to draw our eye like bullet points to his information. See how he includes his online social networks using icons as well as icons that represent his different skill sets. I think employers would love to see a visual person like an art teacher come to the table with a 21st century, modern and visual resume.
Unfortunately sometimes getting a job is hard, and it’s politics. I have noticed that if someone subs quite a bit in our school and the principal gets to know them (or student taught) they seem to have a better chance of landing a job at that school. Have you thought of volunteering in a district you are looking to get into? Name recognition is huge. Maybe know someone who can put in a good word for you?Do you have social networks via Linked In, Twitter, a website or blog? (Don’t forget to link these on your resume!). After making great connections, ask some influential people you have met to do a short testimonial for you, and include it in your cover letter or resume. Sometimes name dropping is all it takes, and it’s much more personalized to include a testimonial than to simply add a boring list of references.
We are art teachers, right? We are visual people, and potential employers will expect us to be able to SHOW some great examples of what our students have done. If you don’t have a visual place online such as a blog, Artsonia, or a class webpage you can showcase student art, you are missing the boat. Be sure to link to this place in your resume or cover letter. Administrators don’t know a lot about teaching art, but they know what they like when they see it. Show them your best work and make it easy for them to find. They will begin to get a clear picture of what you will offer their program and what the halls in THEIR school might look like with you as the art teacher.
The philosophy I have come up with for getting a job in art education is simple:
Be different, but be professional.
Showcase your strengths in a visual way.
Stand out from the crowd.
What do you have to lose?