Landing your first teaching job: 7 things you need to know

Teacher in the classroom with children

How to start your teaching career

You’ve trained hard to become a teacher and you’re ready to make a difference. But where do you start? And what can you really expect from this highly rewarding career path? Here’s seven things you need to know about your first teaching gig. 

You’ll find all public teaching jobs in one place

Forget scanning every single recruitment site for the latest teaching vacancies – the Department for Education has made the job search easier with a dedicated website (aptly) called Teaching Vacancies.

This trusted service is the go-to place for job-seeking teachers across England and lets you filter your search by location, subject, working pattern and phase. You can also sign up for job alerts so you won’t miss out on any vacancies that match your personal search criteria. 

First impressions count

In most cases, your CV or application form will be a school’s first introduction to you – so it’s important to make it a good one. To make sure your CV or application stands out, Karen Wond, a HR Officer at West Lakes Academy insists you should: 

  • Read the job advert thoroughly and address everything the employer is asking for
  • Tailor your application to each specific job or school – and explain why you want that job in particular
  • Make sure your application is structured and easy to read
  • Emphasise the relevant qualifications and training you’ve gained 
  • Show how other roles or skills you have can be transferred into the teaching environment
  • Focus on your strengths, show plenty of enthusiasm and use positive descriptors 
  • Proofread thoroughly and check every detail before submitting your application 

It’s not your average job interview

Teaching is a unique profession, and so is the interview itself. Most teaching interviews will involve practical tasks, including teaching a lesson as well as the actual interview itself. It might sound like a daunting process, but HR Officer Karen insists there’s plenty of hacks to make sure you’re fully prepared. 

“Think about all the questions you could possibly be asked” advises Karen. “You’re likely to be asked about safeguarding, resolving difficult situations, your career plan and why you want a particular teaching role… So prepare standard answers that cover these topics”. 

If you’re worried about the more practical aspects of the interview, Karen insists you should just pick up the phone. “Call the school to ask what the interview tasks are. They might give you information, they might not, but you’ve got nothing to lose!”

Another of Karen’s top tips is to talk to teachers – after all, nobody knows the recruiting process and job role better than them. 

When it comes to the interview itself, Karen says the most important thing you can do is go into the interview with the right attitude.

“If you’re going to manage a class of children, you’re going to need to demonstrate certain traits to the interview panel. Be mindful of your body language, have a positive attitude and, above all, be confident!”

You’ll get plenty of support from day one

You’ll spend your first year as an NQT putting everything you’ve learnt into practice. It will be a whole new learning experience, and you’ll get the help you need to succeed from your very first day. 

As an NQT, you’ll have a slightly reduced timetable to allow for the assessments, observations and training you need to stay on track and settle into your new role. You’ll also be given a mentor who’ll be only too happy to share their wealth of knowledge and experience with you. 

HR Officer Karen’s biggest piece of advice for new teachers? “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

There’s tons of opportunities to progress

If you’re hungry for career progression, you’ll find plenty of scope to expand your skills, gain more responsibilities and climb the teaching career ladder. 

“There’s always opportunities within the school. Co-ordinator and Head of Department roles give you the chance to progress within your department. There’s also a number of school-wide roles that will allow you to impress with your skills and responsibilities.” insists Karen. 

If you’re keen to progress, the HR Officer also insists you should grasp any opportunities to gain leadership qualifications. “There will be plenty of chances for you to build on your experience as you go, so it’s important that you take them. Just go for it!” 

The benefits are limitless

Teaching gives you the opportunity to use a wide range of skills to inspire students in the subject you love. It’s also a career with plenty of perks, too. 

Aside from making a difference to the children you teach, it’s a career for the future. Regardless of the economy, there will always be a demand for teachers. 

“There’s a high demand for teachers in England, particularly in specific secondary school-level subjects”, insists Karen. 

It’s also a career that’s financially rewarding. “Teaching has a competitive starting salary, with earnings that increase in-line with your experience and responsibilities”, adds the HR Officer. 

It also has a generous pension plan and 13 weeks of holiday allowance – so you’ll have plenty of time to relax and recharge each year. The flexibility of working hours means you can take time to do the things you love outside work, from spending time with family to travelling.

Teachers love it

Teaching is a career that’s demanding, rewarding, challenging and satisfying – and teachers love it.

“It’s hard work but it’s selfless work. It’s often challenging but always rewarding,” says Karen.

It’s the rewarding nature of the job that keeps teachers highly satisfied with their career path. As Karen puts it; “Your career has a purpose and you get a laugh from the children everyday.” 

There’s also no such thing as a ‘typical day’ in teaching. No two days are the same so you’ll never have a chance to get bored.

“Every day is different and every year brings a new class of children to inspire. You get to teach a subject you love and see your class grow, develop and learn – what’s better than that?” 

About our sponsor

Teaching Vacancies logo

If you’re hungry for your first job in teaching, you’ll find plenty
of scope to expand your skills, gain more responsibilities and climb the teaching career ladder.  Apply for your first teaching role on Teaching Vacancies.