Welcome to the Jersey Educator Podcast, a show created by NJEA members, for NJEA members. Whether you are a teacher, an educational support professional, or a New Jersey Student Education Association member, this show will serve as a platform to help YOU bring out the best in your students, each and every day in your schools. The shows are hosted by Jeff Bradbury of TeacherCast.net (@TeacherCast) and Jim Boice, a field representative with NJEA (@boiceinthehood). For more information, please visit njea.org/podcast and email us at podcast@njea.org.

In this episode, Jeff and Jim talk about how NJEA members can prepare for an upcoming job fair.

This is the time of year when students are preparing to leave college and begin the exciting process of meeting school district staff and learning about the networking process. What types of things should be considered when attending your first job fair? Dress, resume, and conversations should be in the front of everyone’s playbook, but there are several others things that are equally as important.

Here are ten things that you might be thinking about as you prepare for your next job fair or interview — plus one very important bonus tip.

Prepare … Prepare … Prepare

When attending a job fair or interview, it can not be overstated enough: prepare. Prepare ahead of time for the big event. Make sure you have everything you need the night before.

  • Have your resume’s prepped, proofed, and printed. Carry copies in a folder so that they don’t bend.
  • Make sure that you have your clothes ready and pressed. If you are someone who has a habit of sweating, it might be best to take a second shirt with you.
  • Check out schools ahead of time so you know who will be there and what positions are available. You want to make sure you that are going to be hitting the right schools for you early in the day.
  • Are your business cards in your jacket pocket so that you can take them out at a moment’s notice? They should be put in your pocket in just a way that when you reach in and extend your arm, each card will be properly presented to district staff so they read it as they receive it (a nice touch!).

Dress For Success

There are several ways of saying “business casual” and “dress to impress.” For many, you should dress for the job you want.

Be professional:

  • Make sure your shirt is clean and pressed (be careful of what you have for breakfast).
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You will be on your feet all day.
  • Remember that you may be carrying a backpack or other item with your papers in it, so don’t over pack. If you need to run to your car to reload, do it rather than carry a heavy bag that will exhaust you during the day.

Nail Your Introduction

Your first 60 seconds with a potential employer are the most critical. You should have your game face on and be energetic, happy to be there, and showing confidence.

Be prepared to answer some of the standard first questions:

  • How are you today?
  • Tell us a bit about yourself?
  • How are you enjoying the job fair today?
  • Did you travel far to get here?
  • How are things these days in ____ (fill in your current school district).

You should have canned answers for all of these questions. These questions are to get you talking. Your answers should be designed to invite those across the table to answer questions, too. The quicker you can engage in conversation, the easier it will be for you to relax throughout the interview process.

It is also best in your introduction to quickly mention that you have expertise in something that the school is proud of or currently using with their staff. It will give the administrator an opportunity to bring up additional topics for you to converse over.

Do Your Homework

As stated in the first section, you should go in with a handful of schools you WANT to interview for. Have them well scouted. Know who the superintendents are and the names of the human resource staff as well as the principals. It is always a great first impression when you sit down with a recruiter and ask how Dr  _____ is doing.

You should also have some basic facts about the school districts prepped ahead of time:

  • How many schools are there?
  • How are the building grades broken down?
  • What is their mascot?
  • Are they a Google or Microsoft School? (Read why under the next section.)

Of course, during a job fair you may find yourself sitting in front of a school that you had not prepared for, and that is fine. This is why you have Google on your phone and can always duck into a corner to do a quick search before approaching the table with your resume in hand.

Quick Tip: If you are a job fair, have someone you can trust at home prepared to feed you some important info about a school district. It’s easier to use THEM for the Google search rather than doing it quickly on your phone.

Visit TeacherCast for our complete list

Above are just four of the important things that you should consider when preparing for your next interview of job fair. To see the entire list, please click here to visit TeacherCast.net.

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