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Over-qualified, over-priced, too old? — Why Aren’t They Hiring Me?

Q. I am a career changer, and after 25 years of raising a family I went back to school and earned my MS/SPED and tested for MTELs. I passed Communication/Literacy; Foundations of Reading; Health, Family and Consumer Science — all but the Math sub-test of the General Curriculum. I have been subbing and working as a paraprofessional for 6 years. I get to the 2nd interview and never make it to the offer stage. Am I over-educated, under-experienced or just too old? I am 55, female and a great teacher! What gives?

A. Many people express a desire to enter the field of education after a long career in other fields, and you have made some serious commitments toward that. I consulted with Bob Maguire, Superintendent of the Medfield Public Schools. Bob notes, ?You haven?t completed the process for certification but you are on track to complete it. This is a very critical issue in applying for public school positions. Under state regulations a district is required to hire certified personnel. In certain circumstances a non-certified person can be hired but a waiver is required and is limited in time frame. Depending on the area of teaching expertise (and resulting job competition) the lack of certification can be a major issue in employability.?

Coming into any new field with experience makes for a more attractive candidate. Maguire commented that gaining experience in the field by substituting and working as a paraprofessional adds value and so attractiveness to your candidacy. ?As in any profession, networking can be important and being in the classroom in those capacities helps make connections to possible employment as positions may open in that district.?
Superintendent Maguire also advises you to broaden your search, if you are only looking at public school positions, as ?the current economic situation has impacted hiring in public education. You might want to consider looking at private special education schools, as well as regional collaborative schools.?

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Finding the right expertise for feedback on job search situations is a great way not to get stuck on what you think the issues might be. Many people believe their job search is stalled on age, or over-qualification, or salary. While that may be the case, you need to zero in on what the exact issues are, so that you can address them in the job search. It also is important to quantify your job search efforts. If you have had 2 second interviews and never get to the next step, and are concerned about your employability, your concern should be focused on volume of job search activity. A successful job search takes many networking meetings, and interviews ? many more than most people plan on!

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