The challenges of getting a teaching position are as great as the rewards of having one. While in the classroom, you get to influence young (or old) minds, continue research into your own interests and, hopefully, be able to keep a roof over your head. The process can be staggering and difficult, but with a little planning, you'll be able to tell when you should start applying for those positions and what you'll need to have finished by that time.
Begin your search during your last year of graduate school. This way, you'll have the opportunity to teach immediately after you earn your degree. The interview process, then, will take place while you are still finishing up your degree and taking whatever certification exams you're responsible for. Doctoral or master's students, for example, finish up their dissertations while sending CVs and cover letters to institutions that have advertised open positions. Send applications year round, but boost your efforts during "teacher hiring season," approximately March through June. In order to secure the best people for elementary, secondary and postsecondary positions, districts do their best to have new teachers hired by June for the upcoming school year. According to Education.com, the New Teacher Project recommends that districts hire teachers by May first, "and no later than June first." While it is difficult for you to know when nearby school officials will have hiring numbers in mind, remember that districts are taking great pains to firm up these numbers, including offering retiring teachers bonuses when they commit early to leaving.
Start composing your teaching CV (curriculum vitae) while you are still in the thick of your college course work. This will help you remember all of the talks you give and the presentations you make; all of these should be listed on a teaching resume. Most of the time, you will also want to omit some of the job history you might include on other kinds of resumes. Administrators looking to hire a teacher might prefer to know how you conduct your classes and build your lessons instead of where you worked before college. If you are returning to teaching after a hiatus, be sure to include information about the additional experience you've gained turning your time away.
Submit your application after establishing personal contact with the district or department administration. As Elaine Ernst Schneider notes, "the best approach is to personally go the school office and ask for an application." When you come back for an interview, you could already have built a rapport with the administrator, knowing what they want to hear from you.
Beating the Rush
Apply as close as possible to the time the job is posted. Even though there may be a due date associated with the ad, schools and universities often receive hundreds, if not thousands of applications for single positions. You have a better chance of making an impression on those with hiring control if you beat the rush.
Figuring out the System
Submitting as early as possible to the hiring procedure also means you'll be in the swing of things when it comes to understanding the electronic application systems some districts use. The quicker you are able to become accustomed to these systems, the more applications you will complete in the end.