Further Education (FE) providers are broad in range and have different approaches to recruitment. In this article, we’ve concentrated on the processes in FE colleges.
Treat your search for employment as a research project. Firstly, where do you want to work? Make a list of all the potential employers in your area. You can prioritise based on location, subject specialism, or whatever is most important to you. A flexible approach may be wise when searching to give yourself access to the greatest selection of vacancies, so if you can, consider travelling a little extra or include a wider range of subjects.
It’s always good to get as much support as you can in this process. If you’ve just finished your teaching training, you’ll still be eligible for careers and employment support through your college, university or training provider. This can be a great place to start planning your approach. Alternatively you may want to seek out a mentor; someone with relevant knowledge who can provide guidance and support as you begin to develop your teaching career. This can be someone in the profession, a lecturer from your training, or maybe a friend or acquaintance with suitable skills. The college where you completed your placement (as part of your training) can often be a great source of support, with many teachers gaining their first paid position here.
Whilst each organisation may recruit differently, it can be a useful exercise to prepare your CV in advance even if it may not always be needed. Writing out your CV will give you the opportunity to reflect on what you’ve achieved, consider how you want to present your skills and think about your ‘selling points’ that a prospective employer may be interested in. You can also use a CV to make speculative applications.
Once you have a list of potential colleges it’s time to look at each one in more detail. Their websites should give you a good idea of their recruitment processes. Have a read through their careers and vacancies section; often it will outline their practices and give you an idea of what may be involved should you choose to apply. Explore current vacancies. If there’s one you can apply for – great! If not, examine the person specification for similar roles. Can you access an example online application form?
Some colleges accept applications from prospective teachers all year round, so do enquire if this is the case. You’ll begin to observe that some times of year are more fruitful – you may find this after Easter in preparation for the following September. Ideally though you should monitor what’s happening all year round. It could be worth contacting your relevant subject head or Head of Department to make a speculative application or perhaps to arrange a visit to the college. All of this legwork may not result in a job, but if you apply you’ll find yourself feeling knowledgeable, prepared and relaxed in the college environment.
Many teachers begin their careers as part-time or sessional workers, sometimes on a fixed term contract. Permanent full-time positions do exist and are an appealing option for many. However, if you can accommodate more flexible opportunities you’ll find they can be a great way to get started and gain experience.
When you find a job that you want to apply for, you may be asked to complete an online application form, commonly via recruitment software called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
Applicant Tracking Systems can vary in style and format but most require the same information. A college will normally outsource this function and it’s possible that you could apply for jobs in different colleges via the same ATS. One of the benefits of these systems is that you can save the data you input, which is useful when applying for other roles. You can upload your CV for the employer to browse through. This is one of the many reasons why it’s worth investing time in the preparation of your CV, paying attention to the ‘buzzwords’ in your field and incorporating them where you can.
Whether it’s a more traditional application form or an online ATS, the ‘supporting statement’ will play a crucial role in your success. If you’re submitting a CV, then the accompanying cover letter is the place to do this. You’ll need to address the job description and each item on the person specification, outlining how you’re able to fulfil each specific point. This will take time and endeavour. Ideally you’ll draw on your experiences to answer each requirement, using detailed examples to illustrate each one. It can be tempting to write extensively, however, there’s an art in conveying your answers succinctly. This does get easier with practice and you will find that you can use previous applications as material to inform current ones. Crucially you’ll need to ‘sell’ rather than ‘tell’ when it comes to supporting statements. Draw upon your persuasive writing skills and take time to consider why you would be an asset to the employer.
It’s worth getting someone you trust to read over your statement, and when it comes to spelling and grammar – check and check again.
As you go, record every application and all relating research. You never know when you may need it again. Keep a note of when applications have been made, and when you can expect to hear back. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback if you’re unsuccessful. This can often provide valuable insight and give you pointers when it comes to improving your applications.
Best of luck!