It is about that time again. Schools will soon be issuing next year’s contracts and job openings will start to form in Catholic schools across the country. Have you felt a calling to teach religion in Catholic schools? Are you moving and looking for a job in a new city? Are you looking at other schools hoping to make a change?
1. Update Your Resume or C.V. (Curriculum Vita)
Present your professional life in one, concise page. This single piece of paper may not say everything there is to say about you, but it must reveal why you are the best candidate for a job. Resumes are traditionally one to two pages in length. They contain a brief summary of your education, professional/teaching experience, extracurricular activities, and skills. Here are some essential tips in theology teacher resume building:
· Keep it short and sweet. Use bullet points that are one line only.
· Spelling errors are deadly. You will not be hired to teach if you have spelling errors in your resume.
· Highlight your education and accomplishments not just jobs and titles.
· Include relevant volunteer experiences. If you have been involved in youth ministry or Catholic community service, make sure you include that.
I don’t claim to be any expert, but my resume format hasn’t changed much since I graduated college. For a sample resume, here is the resume I used to get my most recent job. Some of you may prefer CV style, but a resume format has been effective for me.
This is not an option. Every potential employer is going to Google you whether you like it or not. Google yourself. What comes up? Are you the only John Doe or is some teenage kid’s Facebook profile ranked #1 for your name? See points 3 and 4 below to do something about it.
3. Create an Online Presence
Google me and the vast majority of the results – but not all of them – are positive things about me (not another Jared Dees). You don’t have to start a blog, but you should have a LinkedIn account and you should professionalize your Facebook page. You could also consider posting PowerPoint lectures on sites like SlideShare or some of your lesson plans on Scribd.
4. Start with LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a professional social networking site. It is also an opportunity to post your resume online. Google typically ranks it higher than other sites so this is a great place to start if you can’t find yourself easily on Google. Right now my LinkedIn profile is #2 when you search for Jared Dees. If you updated your resume then just import it into LinkedIn. Post a professional picture of yourself and start connecting with people you know. If you are really ambitious, ask current and former colleagues to recommend you.
5. Look for Job Openings
There are some great website that are specifically designed to providing Catholic organizations, Catholic schools, and parishes the opportunity to post jobs. When I was looking for a religion teacher job, I checked these sites daily:
6. Contact the School Directly
If you find a job opening you like on one of the websites above or if you are hoping to apply to a specific school, then you need to know who to contact and how. Check out the school’s website. Find the names of the president, principal/academic dean, and theology department head. Most of the time the department chairs will either make the decision to hire or choose the top candidates for a job. Find their name, email and phone extension and contact them directly. State that you are interested in teaching at their school and would like to send a copy of your resume for them to review.
7. Write a Cover Letter
With every resume you send, make sure you include a cover letter. Cover letters are an opportunity to state your interest in a job and make an argument for yourself. Some tips on cover letters:
· Address the letter to a specific person instead of “To Whom It May Concern…”
· Don’t just repeat your resume. Take the opportunity to creatively expand upon your education and work experience.
· Spelling errors turn your letter into recycled paper. Get someone to proofread for you.
· The format should go as follows: statement of purpose, why you are uniquely qualified for a/the job, state your interest/excitement about the position and the best way to contact you.
· Print it on nice resume paper and send it in a large envelope.
8. ACE Your Job Interview
So they liked your resume and cover letter. They have an opening and you are under consideration. How do you prepare? Start by researching the school (and diocese). What is their curriculum? How many teachers do they have on staff? What kinds of extracurricular activities do they have?
Be able to provide specific examples of your competence and success in the following areas:
· Theology content knowledge (also be prepared to answer theology questions in your interview)
· Classroom instruction
· Leading retreats
Note: Some dioceses require a certain amount of education in theology so be sure to do your research before you apply.
Any other advice for those looking for jobs in religious education? Post your comments below.