Are you about to graduate?
Here are some job-hunting tips and suggestions from NAfME member Alicia Mueller.
1. Resume and/or Portfolio
Maintain an updated resume/portfolio emphasizing your strong points and major accomplishments. Ask one or two music education professionals to proofread your documents. For sample cover letters, resumes, and interview practice questions, visit A Career Guide for Music Education, provided by NAfME member Barbara Payne McLain. Consider building this resume/portfolio online. A simple Google search will reveal several free websites where personal and professional files can be stored and easily shared with prospective employers.
2. Letters of Recommendation
When asking for letters of recommendation, whether it’s for a specific job or a placement file, provide each person with a copy of your resume and job-description information. Include a stamped addressed envelope and give plenty of time to meet all deadlines.
3. Letters of Inquiry
Send out letters of inquiry and your resume to school systems where you’re interested in teaching. Ask if they anticipate a job opening in your area of specialization. Acquire information regarding the job application and procedures.
4. Personal File
Maintain a personal file for each school system, and eventually for specific jobs. Follow the correct job application procedure for each school system or specific job. Meet all deadlines and do not hesitate to follow up by mail, e-mail, or a phone call. When building these files, also rank them from most interested to least. Consider student demographic, cost of living, school and district performance, personal interest, pay, etc. Doing this will help you focus your efforts and make the decision making process easier when multiple job offers arise.
5. Contact Information
Be sure you have an accurate, reliable means for school systems or specific schools to contact you. You can even provide an appropriate voicemail message for incoming calls.
Network through former graduates, colleagues, professors, and university administrators, and inform them of your specific job interests. Veteran teachers will be the absolute best resource for networking. Don’t hesitate to approach any lifelong educator you recognize and form a relationship. Attend and actively participate in NAfME state, regional, and national conferences. Check out local and regional job fairs/centers and be aware that job interviews may be conducted in these settings.
7. Be Flexible!
Don’t limit yourself to geographical locations, school sizes, or music teaching subject areas. Venture out from the state where you’re living or going to school. Entertain the idea of teaching abroad or participating in an exchange program.
Refer back to the online article Job Hunting Throughout the College Years for more information. Mueller says, “This is a challenging yet exciting time for our music education profession. The possibilities are endless, and the opportunities are expansive! Creating and maintaining a career development plan will not only increase your chances for landing a great job, it will contribute toward a great enjoyment of your music education profession.”
Is this your first year of teaching music? Click here to access the NAfME First Year Teacher Discount
Alicia Mueller is associate professor of music and chairperson of the Music Education Division at Towson University in Towson, Maryland.
Jill Sullivan is an associate professor of Instrumental Music Education in the Herberger College of the Arts’ School of Music at Arizona State University.
Barbara Payne McLain is a professor of Music Education at the University of Hawaii.
This article is adapted from an article in the Maryland MEA Journal (October 2003) entitled, “TIPS for Job Hunting THROUGHOUT the College Years,” by Alicia Mueller.
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.
–Shauna Leavitt, April 8, 2009 © NAfME: The National Association for Music Education.
–Updated by J.J. Norman, January 2016