SECTION VI. PREPARING FOR EMPLOYMENT
"What steps should I take to get a job?"
Putting together a resume is essential for any individual pursuing a job or career in a profession. When reviewing your knowledge, skills and experiences and developing a plan to pursue a career in early care and education, it is important that you create a clear and honest picture of yourself. A resume is one way of collecting information and presenting yourself to others. A resume describes who you are, includes your career goals, education, credentials and experience. A good resume is a concise document that provides a snapshot of who you are as a person and employee. In the following section you will find helpful information to use in developing a resume along with some professional resume samples.
A resume is a document that contains information about you. Often information about ourselves is kept in many different places in an unorganized manner. The first task is to start collecting all the relevant information and putting it all in one place. Many documents are relatively easy to find, such as diplomas and awards. Some of the information needed may be more difficult to obtain. For example, often information about work history is kept in memory. Precise dates, addresses, and supervisors names are not known. Transcripts of school records are often incomplete and up-to-date information is needed. Samples of performance reviews, lesson plans, and other indicators of job performance are unavailable. The next section provides a list of information that needs to be collected. Spend some time collecting this information before proceeding to construct your resume. This process will help you learn how to organize information and save items that may be important when changing your resume in the future and in developing professional development plans.
Begin gathering basic background information. The Resume Background Document that is linked, below, can be used as a guide to start gathering information. It is not mandatory to have everything listed in this document. Some of the items may not be relevant. There also may be items that are not included that are unique to you that you will need to collect.
Points to Keep in Mind
1. The purpose of the resume is to "sell yourself." Let the reader know you are the right person for their job. Your resume should be targeted to the needs of the prospective employer. This can easily be achieved by keeping your resume as a computer file that allows editing it as necessary to fit the specific situation.
2. Make your presentation distinctive and give your resume some style and focus by answering these questions:
- What knowledge, skills and abilities do I have to perform in this position?
- How would my disposition (personality and temperament) allow me to thrive in this situation?
- What plans do I have to improve my skills for continued advancement?
- If you were hiring someone for this position, what would be most important to you?
- Does my resume give the reader a true picture of me in relationship to the position offered?
Create your resume by putting the gathered information into an appropriate format. It is better to include too much information in your master resume than not enough information. The plan is to create a master resume that can be saved and then modified to fit a specific situation. This strategy makes your resume a working document that can be changed as necessary. Ultimately, your resume is a concise and well-organized document that makes the reader want to meet you in person.
First, select a tool to help manage and organize the information. Using a computer becomes essential in this process. There are many word processing software programs that will help to accomplish this goal. For example, MS Word and MS Works offer a "Resume Wizard" to guide you step by step through the process. The program asks you to input your data into a form. When you have finished inputting your information, the software program automatically creates your resume in the correct format using that information.
The next step is to edit the resume. Be sure the resume is accurate, informative, and that there are absolutely no typographical or grammatical errors. This document becomes your master resume. It contains all of your information, which may be too much information for practical purposes. It is the template you will use to develop resumes for specific jobs.
- List knowledge and skills in an itemized fashion
- List qualifications in order of relevance, from most to least
- Quantify experience wherever possible
- Begin sentences with action verbs
- Don't sell yourself short
- Be concise
- Omit needless items
- Have a trusted friend review the resume
- Proofread, proofread, proofread
- Laser print it on plain, white paper or a light tinted color
- Use simple, business-like fonts for format
The following is a list of websites that can help you develop your resume:
Monster.com - resume writing service
novoresume - tutorial, tips, and samples of resumes and cover letters
Eresume.com - resume writing tips and examples including cover letter samples, editing hints, and employment interviewing techniques.
Write A Resume - tips, hints, and information or resumes
New York Job - offers services for job seekers and employers including, email alerts, listings, resume posting, and more.
College Grad - resume templates
"What is a Professional Portfolio?"
The professional portfolio is a unique, carefully selected collection of your professional work. The portfolio is a living document. A professional regularly updates their portfolio, adds new work, and deletes old work that is no longer relevant to their professional goals and aspirations.
The portfolio is a historical document that portrays professional growth. It includes personal and professional influences on development, knowledge, and philosophies regarding children, families and teaching. It also includes tangible pieces of work that illustrate your professional career. It can be used as a career history or an assessment of learning at various points in time. It can also be used as a promotional illustration of your work, which is shared during a job interview. There are times in your professional preparation when specific portfolios are created: for a college course, the resource file for the CDA (Child Development Associate), the portfolio for CPAC (Children's Program Administrator Credential), or the National Board for Teaching Standards. Parts of those portfolios can be included in your Professional Portfolio as well.
Some common elements are:
- Resume - A summary of education and work experience. There are many sources of assistance in creating a resume such as the public library, college placement offices and websites. When seeking employment, resumes can be used as a stand-alone document along with a letter of introduction that identifies the position for which you are applying and describes one or two aspects of work experience that stand out as particularly applicable to the employment opportunity.
- Educational Philosophy - This is a statement of how your accumulated knowledge, experiences and practices connect with your ideals and core values about children, family and learning. This needs to be rewritten as a person develops professionally and reflects on the impact of new knowledge and experience.
- Educational Experiences - A collection of certificates, transcripts of college courses or degrees attained should be included. Include record of internships, field experiences, and practicums. Include details of those field placements or experiences and the number of hours in each.
- Recognitions - Include awards, honors, letters of recognition or appreciation, and accomplishments.
- Artifacts - Documents produced in the course of your education, work and ongoing professional development that illustrate your competencies accompanied by an explanation of each document's significance. Examples of documents you might want to include are:
- Assessments of child development and learning - case studies, anecdotal recordings, developmental checklist (remove all references to specific child's identity);
- Curriculum development and implementation - sample lesson and unit plans, reflections on outcomes, evidence of environment for learning including floor plans, schedules, and charts, and photos of planned learning activities;
- Family and community relationships - letters to families, newsletters, and special events planned for family and child that encourage family involvement (remove all references to specific identities);
- Professionalism - professional organization membership and level of participation, volunteer activities, presentations and shared learning, and selected entries in your reflective journal; and
- Ongoing professional development - plans for further development in specific areas based on self-assessment, and goals statement.
- SAVE all documents relevant to your profession - Conference programs and certificates, letters from families, course syllabi and completed assignments, lesson plans and teaching documents, employment evaluations, etc.
- Carefully select a sample from the documents that shows your progress, that highlight your achievements, and that represent you as a person.
- Use your creativity but keep the portfolio to a manageable size such as one three ring binder with dividers for each of the sections. Use plastic sleeves to hold small, loose items like photos or certificates.
- All explanations and documents that you prepare must be typed, and free of spelling errors. Be neat, concise, and organized.
For further information, see Job Search Handbook for Educators. Evanston, IL: American Association for Employment in Education. An annual handbook designed to assist new and experienced educators in job searches and includes section on resume writing.
"How do I begin to find a job?"
Job Searching Tips
- Do a self-assessment - Section IV. A, Self Assessment Plan
- Research and explore career options - Section III, Exploring Positions
- Choose a career field, then target potential employers
- Prepare job search materials and develop job search skills - Developing a Resume and Preparing for the Interview
- Plan and conduct job search (Willing to relocate? If not, how will you commute?)
- Pursue advertised vacancies (Newspapers & Internet)
- Develop a contact network
- Contact employers directly
- Follow-up and record all contacts
- Be persistent
- Obtain offer
- Continue to develop your professional development plan
"What can I do to get ready for an interview?"
The following are lists of tips for preparing for interviews and for answering common interview questions.
- Dress professionally
- Get directions to the interview site
- Be on time
- Research the employer and position
- Be prepared
- Bring copies of your resume and references and portfolio
- Show enthusiasm
- Answer the questions asked
- Give specific examples of work experience or education that applies to question
- Ask questions
- Follow up
- Send thank you note
Preparing answers to most common interview questions
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want this position?
- Tell us about why you decided to become an early childhood educator.
- What is your philosophy of teaching young children?
- What area would you like to learn more about or grow in?
- If I contacted your previous employer what would s/he say about you?
- What will you be doing professionally five years from now?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Why are you interested in joining the staff?
- How do you develop curriculum for young children?
- What children's behavior do you find most challenging? Why do you suppose a child might act this way? How do you handle a child who is acting this way?
- If you had unlimited funds, describe some "extras" you would add to a standard classroom/program.
- If you only had one learning area in your classroom what would it be? Why?
- What is the Teacher's role in making the parent/teacher relationship a positive one?
- What has been your most significant achievement?
- Why should we hire you?
- What are your salary expectations?
- What did you like best/least about your previous job?