How to Get Your First Teaching Job Interview

Getting your first teaching job interview can be more difficult than many beginning teachers realize.   For any one teacher job opening, there can literally be hundreds of applications.  But in many situations, school districts do not advertise open teaching jobs and if they do, they start with the applications they have on file first.  

In order to increase your chances of getting a teaching job interview as soon as possible, you need to send your resume and application packet to every school district in your area, regardless if any positions are currently open or not. By doing so, you immediately increase your chances of getting an interview when a teaching job does become available.  

In the remainder of this article, I will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the process of getting a good application packet ready.  By the end you should have a good idea of the steps involved in getting your first teaching job interview.

How do I get solid letters of recommendation?

You should include at least three letters of recommendation with your application packet.   These should be professional references and not from friends or family members.   The first should be one from your cooperating teacher. You should have received a letter by the end of your student teaching, but if not, you should get one immediately. For new teachers, this is the letter that they'll be looking for.

If you are struggling to find additional references, think about contacting former professors or instructors who might be willing to write a quick letter attesting to your outstanding teaching skills. They are usually more than happy to help.

What documents should I include in my application packet?

At the very minimum, you should include the teaching application (if required by your state), a cover letter, your resume, and letters of recommendation.   I also suggest including a copy of your teaching certificate, your diploma, one or two of your best lesson plans, and a copy of your criminal background check. 

I have no teacher experience, what should I include under employment on my resume?

If you don't have previous teaching experience, you should start by including your student teaching.  I also suggest listing "Private Tutoring" as past experience.   Even if you have never done any tutoring for money, I'm sure you have helped other students for free.   

How should I address the cover letter?

You want to address the cover letter directly to the school superintendent. Create one cover letter first, making it as general as possible. You want to make it so you only need to change the school district address and superintendent name when you go to print them out for each individual school district. 

In your opening sentence or paragraph, you should explain that you are writing to apply for any potential openings. For example:

Dear {Superintendent Name},

I am writing to express my interest in any current or potential Math teaching positions that may become available in your school district. I am from {your area}and have heard great things about your school ...

When applying for a teaching job, you want to send your application directly to the Superintendent of each school. By doing so, your resume will pass directly from the Superintendent to human resources. It's also possible that the Superintendent will open your application packet directly, which is an added bonus as hopefully your name will be at the top of his head when a position opens up.

How do find schools and names of Superintendents?

Depending on what you state you are in, finding school names, superintendent names, and mailing addresses can be fast and easy. For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Education website has a great feature called EdNa (education names and addresses) that allows you to find information by school district by clicking on a map. See this page to try it out: Other states offer similar services.

Another website that is useful for identifying school districts in your area is, which provides profiles on each K-12 school in the United States.

How do I prepare my application packet?

Once you have a list of school districts, you can prepare your application packet to mail. First, print out a cover letter for each school you would like to send an application to.  If you created a general cover letter, you should only need to change the address and Superintendent name.

When putting your application packet together, your cover letter should go first. Then include your resume, your teaching certification, your reference letters, your application, and anything else you would like to include such as a sample lesson plan and clearances.

How many schools should I send to?

The key is to send your application packet to every school district in your area. You never know when one of them will have an opening. Many teachers leave in the middle of the, so just get your resume into as many hands as possible as you never know when a position will be open.

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