Your first teaching job is crucial: it's got to be somewhere where you can thrive and put into practice all the skills and ideas you've gained during your training.
Unfortunately, the job market isn't looking great. People going for secondary maths, science, English, languages, RE, design technology or ICT jobs will have the most choice, because teachers in those subjects continue to be in short supply, though not in all regions. If you want to work in primary, you'll have to put in a lot of effort. Start hunting early, as there are heaps more people coming out of primary trainingthan there are vacancies - some people have been looking for a job since last summer.
People trying to find work in the South-west, Northeast and Wales will find they're competing with hun-dreds of others, including experienced teachers. A lot of jobs in these areas aren't nationally advertised but are snapped up locally, often by people someone at the school knows or has heard of. The school grapevine is very efficient: people will pass around information about good trainees, so make a good impression on everyone, everywhere.
First impressions count. Kevin Ronan, Lambeth's recruitment manager, despairs of hand-written applications with bits crossed out and spelling mistakes (a no-no in any application, let alone one by someone planning to teach). He says: "If people don't make an effort with an application, it doesn't bode well for the quality of their teaching."
Some posts attract 100 or more applications, so the first sifting will discard all the forms that aren't well presented. A history teacher's high-quality word-processed supporting statement that she'd slaved over wasn't even looked at because the front page of the form looked appalling. She'd completed it by hand in the most atrocious handwriting with words crossed out and bits crammed into the bottom of boxes because she hadn't done a draft in pencil to see how she could fit it all in neatly. Make a couple of copies of the form so that you can draft it, en-suring that you can fit things into the given spaces neatly and with no mistakes.
Check the closing date and work out when you're going to contact your referees, write the personal statement, complete the form, check it and post it in time for them to receive it. Skim through the form to see what's needed and whether you have all the information to hand. Follow any instructions about sending photocopies, using paperclips rather than staples, writing in black and deadlines. Your employment his-tory and qualifications should start with the most recent unless the form specifies otherwise.
Dr Jennifer Long hurst, the head teacher of Surbiton High School, recommends finding out as much as possible about the school. "Write an application that shows how our lives would be easier if you came to us, not one that emphasises how the school would suit you." She also emphasises the importance of getting the exact name of the school and head teacher right. "We all know that you are applying for a number of jobs in a wide geographical area, but do try and pretend that you are not. If you don't get my or the school's name right, it makes me think, 'He'd be the sort of teacher who'd put the wrong name in a student's report.'"
Qualifications are important, so arrange them to best advantage. One primary teacher listed GCSEs first and then her A-levels, all of which were unimpressive. She had a decent degree and a PGCE. Worst of all, she listed her two failed attempts to get English language GCSE rather than just including her B grade. What primary head will be impressed with that?
Some forms ask for details of your recreational and any other special interests. Don't say shopping and watching TV! Things like playing the piano might just give you the edge on another applicant, but don't exaggerate your talents or you may be expected to play in assembly. …