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Career Advice Opinion

Goal Setting for the Job Seeker

By AAEE — August 12, 2014 2 min read
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Congratulations! You have made it through college. You have passed all the testing and licensing. You are now ready to go! You are ready for your first “official” job as a teacher. Yet, the job search can seem so... overwhelming.

It is important to know what you want - and what you do NOT want - when seeking a job. Yes, you “just need a job.” But, you do not need just any job! You need a job that is worth the time, effort, and financial outlay you put into your degree. One of the best things you did as a student was to set the goal to become an educator. Think back to that focused mindset you used when you first set the goal to be a teacher. Similar principles apply now--figure out what you want and go for it.

Goals can take many forms. The very best goals encompass a combination of several aspects of your life and have tangible, time-specific results. Whatever goals you set, make sure the goals are specific, realistic, and encompass what you need professionally, financially, and personally--all these aspects are equally important.

Do a little research and look at the variety of career options out there. Think about what appeals to you and what does not. Not all teaching opportunities are alike! Public schools are very different from religious-based schools, for example. One would not want to accept a position in a large urban school if the rural lifestyle is a preference.

Here is an example: Imagine Jane is a new teacher from a small town in central Oregon and wishes to live near her family (at least within the state). She holds a K-8 Teaching Certification and she loves the rural lifestyle. A goal she might set would be:

“A 3rd grade teaching job within three months in small rural school district in Oregon with a starting salary of $36,000.”

This goal is realistic (Jane is qualified to teach in Oregon, includes typical entry-level wage in Oregon); it is time-bound (3 months); it is specific (3rd grade, Oregon, small); it fits what she wants (rural area, close to home, she likes to teach), and it fills her needs (living wage).

Some of the stepping-stones Jane may decide to take in order to achieve this goal could include:


  • Search for jobs daily
  • Apply for several jobs per week
  • Research the various school districts in the geographic areas of her interest
  • Tap into her personal network (friends, family, colleagues, social networking, LinkedIn)
  • Update her teaching portfolio
  • Make sure her sample teaching lessons are ready for interviews

Keep in mind that goals can be changed--flexibility is good. This is just a plan! Goals can be moved around as needed or desired. For example, Jane might decide, after some discussion with her colleagues, that there is a position in the nearby state of Washington for which she is qualified and this opportunity still fits her other needs and desires.

The main thing to keep in mind is that goal setting is simply a way to help you articulate what you want and to help you figure out the steps to achieve it.

Leanne Ralstin, Career Development Specialist

Career Center, University of Idaho

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