Opinion
Career Advice Opinion

Why School Districts Hire Newbies - Or Veterans

By AAEE — May 04, 2011 2 min read

As I have worked with education job seekers over the years, I have often been asked by candidates why they are not getting interviews or offers. There are lots of reasons why one may not be generating interest, and you have read many good ideas on this blog for increasing your attractiveness to potential employers. Commonly, however, candidates eventually get around to this: Am I not getting interviews (or offers) because I am new and don’t have much experience? Or: Am I not getting interviews because I have a lot of experience (and they will have to pay me too much)?

In my interactions with administrators over a period of quite a few years, I have heard many responses to these questions. Let me tell you a little bit about what I have seen and heard.

It is a fact that administrators like to have a staff that includes both veterans and newcomers to the profession. Effective veteran teachers are highly sought, “effective” being the operative word here. They are the reason that the traditional salary programs were developed to reward more education and more years of experience. They serve as strong role models and excellent mentors to less-experienced professionals. It is true, however, that in the traditional type of pay scale, teachers with a lot of experience are paid more. When they seek to change employers, they sometimes perceive this as a roadblock to getting attention from the prospective employer.

New teachers, on the other hand, often make up for what they lack in experience by their energy and certainly their knowledge of current trends in the field. These are pluses to administrators. They breathe life into the staff, and they bring enthusiasm for new techniques and technology that veterans may not know about. And, yes, in a traditional pay-scale setting, they don’t have to be paid as much as a veteran.

Both are valuable members of a strong teaching staff. Over the years, I have found little evidence that schools discriminate in hiring because of how much they will be paying a given teacher. I have had many administrators share with me that they simply want the best teachers in their schools.

Granted, we have not had economic conditions that have affected schools as much as we are currently seeing in quite a number of years. I am sure that this leads some veterans to invoke the assumption that they are not getting interviews because of their extensive experience or education. These days, there may be some truth there. Your task as a veteran, then, is to show how you have been successful or effective - how you have made a difference in your students.

For newcomers to the profession, your task is to emphasize the experience you have had - your successes in student teaching, for example - and what you will bring to the classroom that is innovative (with little financial implication) and effective in engaging students. Show off your enthusiasm and knowledge of current methods and trends.

The key is to showcase your strengths and how they make you effective. Veterans and newcomers alike who can do this will be a step ahead of the rest.

--Kent McAnally
Director of Career Services
Washburn University

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