finding a school counseling job - school counseling graduates

10 Tips for Landing a School Counseling Job

Heather Thomas Professional Growth, School Counseling 7 Comments

Getting hired as a school counselor can be difficult in today’s job market. However, difficult does not mean impossible! Read below for 10 tips to help you land a school counseling job.

There are a lot of really good suggestions for school counselors who are looking for a job on some of the school counseling blogs in the blog o’sphere.

If you haven’t already checked them out, I strongly advise you to not only check out the post but print a copy of the post and put it in a binder or folder for future reference. <-Bookmark them at the very least; you will want to reference them again (trust me).

Here is around-up of some of my favorites:

Finding a School Counseling Job by Rebecca Lallier at School Counseling by Heart

School Counseling Job Market Linky Party by Marrisa Rex at Elementary School Counseling

School Counseling Interview Tips by Danielle Shultz at the School Counseling Bog

(I feel like I’ve missed a few so make sure to let me know what’s missing and I’ll update the list 🙂 )

The wealth of knowledge that can be found on these blogs is invaluable!

Here are a few more tips I would give my best friend, if she were trying to get hired as a school counselor:

1: EXPERIENCE, EXPERIENCE, EXPERIENCE

Look for ways to gain as much experience as possible. Every time you are able to work with children/teens you are gaining experience. Working in a variety of settings will give you a pool of experiences to draw upon during your interview.

2. Be Open to Alternative Placements

I know degrees and licenses vary by state, but in Michigan school counselors have a Master in Counseling and are able to work in a number of alternative settings. You may not have envisioned working with children in foster care, but I can tell you from experience, “It looks AMAZING on a resume!”

I’ve worked with at-risk children and their families in a lot of different situations and grant funded programs in inner-city Flint and Detroit. Some of the programs were only a few weeks long and some programs were only a few weekends…but they all added up to experience.

3. Volunteer

While volunteering is that fastest way to gain experience (which is number one on my list), it is also the best way to outshine the competition.

A lot of people are driven in what they do, but it says a lot when someone is so passionate about what they do that they will give up their own time and resources to pitch in for a cause that is bigger than them. After all, that is what educators do every day.

Schools are going to want to hire someone that is willing to jump on in, join the team, and pitch in where they can. Volunteering is a great way to show case those traits.

4. Collect Evidence/Data Along the Way

Believe it or not, data can be your friend!

Did you help organize resources or help plan activities for the children at that weekend camp? How many kids were there? What were their age ranges? Planning, organizing, and implementing lessons are skills hiring panels want to hear about.

Make sure to note any behavioral management skills you have utilized!

5. Network EVERYWHERE

I befriended a CEO and a Director of Children’s Services when I was a waitress at Applebees. These contacts led to two job interviews and two mentor-type relationships that helped mold my career.

6. BE READY – ALWAYS!

There I was minding my own business…participating in an elementary counseling meeting during my internship, when all of a sudden three principals from a local school district walk into our meeting.

They were there touring the building (Young-5’s & K only). While they visited with us, I realized that I recognized one of the principals. She went to my church! Before they left they mentioned that their school counselor was leaving for sunny California…better believe I had my business card ready that Sunday. 🙂

7. Go the Extra Distance

Make yourself stand out from the rest of the pack by adding a bit of polish to your portfolio and resume. I know a lot of you are pretty confident in your resume and cover letter writing skills, but having an extra pair of eyes is vital.

It’s sad when a resume is rejected because of a small spelling or grammar mistake. Take the extra step and have your resume looked over by another school counselor or use a service like the one provided by Carli Counsels.

Career Services by Carli Counsels offers a variety of “stress-free” resume and cover letter services. (Some of you may know Carli from her Twitter chat #escchat!) If I was on the hunt for a new job, I would definitely take advantage of Carli’s incredible service.

8. Plan Ahead

Call ahead to see how many people will be on your interview panel. Make enough portfolios for everyone to have their own. While I can’t guarantee that they will be read, the gesture will show that you plan ahead, are prepared, and meet the needs of everyone.

9. Make Your Portfolio Manageable

If you are freaking out about making 8-10 copies of your portfolio, you probably have too much in your portfolio. Condense your portfolio so you are highlighting your best work. You can always include a note how additional lessons available upon request.

10. Relax

This bit of advice is easier said than done. I was a ball of nerves on my way to my interview. I decided to use some advice a friend gave me. He said that he pretended his most recent job interview was practice for the next one. He said he was so relaxed that he had his best interview (and got the job)!

What do you think will help best with nerves? Thinking: “I gotta get this job. I gotta get this job.” or “This is great experience for the next one.”

Make sure you practice self-care (eating, sleeping, limiting caffeine) and take a big breath and exhale. You’ll be GREAT!

What are your thoughts? Concerns? Anyone with an interview coming up?

All my best,

Heather