Finding your Dream Job.

Part 1: You

Some of you may have followed my journey. I have held various roles in schools; in fact, I have implemented leadership initiatives in every significant area of secondary school leadership, starting the midlands and then serving four different London boroughs.

During my career, I have interviewed and supported 100s colleagues into a variety of positions from CEO to main scale teachers. Over the last six years, this process has been refined into an art and science. No, I’m not going to guarantee you your dream job, but I am going to support you in putting your best foot forward. Hopefully, these resources help you, and if you want further support, please contact me for additional assistance here.

In applying for your next role, what is essential?

  1. You
  2. The School
  3. The Application
  4. The Interview

I will be breaking up the process into those categories.


This is arguably the most critical part of the process. I could regale you with some leadership rhetoric and a quote from Lao Tzu’s Art of War, but I won’t, I will, however, talk to you about me. It took a long to realise that my purpose and happiness ultimately came from within; In psychological terms, this is called coming from an internal locus of control. As a Physics graduate, I had lots of options, I battled with the idea of working in the city, and as a petroleum engineer (I know, I know) for a long time before and after choosing to teach. Even then there were external forces dragging me away from something I truly loved (there more about that here in a piece I wrote for ‘get into teaching’).

Interrogation time, this process demand honesty and reflection.

Why are you looking to move schools? 

What will make you happier? 

What do you actually want?

The typical coaching conversation starts with the coachee’s ‘why’ and then the ‘what’ they think will make them happy. If you are reading this, you probably already know why, but this process is useful in the application and interview stages.

Let’s interrogate what will make you happy; this has to come from an authentic place; you have to know yourself and differentiate between societal pressures (external locus of control) and you.

Activity 1

Where do you draw your sense of self?

How do you gain joy?

What do you most enjoy doing in your role?

From the above questions, you should start to form an idea of your core purpose, psychologically this relates directly to your intrinsic motivation (Deci and Ryan, 2000). Intrinsic motivations are the things you do for the fun of doing them, where extrinsic motivation are the tasks we complete for external rewards. I am not saying that external rewards are not essential, but we know productivity, efficiency and *wellbeing* are all linked to the former.

This is the first step in the process I support my coaches with, do not skip these steps, everything, and I mean everything comes from this base.

Applying for jobs is a complicated process, especially you the higher you climb the ladder. Personally, a senior leadership position takes at least a week’s work. Do not apply for everything; you won’t likely have the energy to apply for roles you don’t want to work at or those which do not match your core purpose or your needs.

I have heard the Jill Berry say that sometimes the worst thing that can happen is that you accept the wrong role

Now your non-negotiables.

  1. Money. What can you afford to accept and how much would you expect to be paid for your next role? Yes, even as an NQT you should be negotiating your salary (there is a process to this too).
  2. Time. How far are you willing to travel? This is another resource based evaluation; the commodity of time is one that is typically forgotten in this process. I used to advise people to get a compass and use an A-Z; however, google maps is probably a much better place to start.
  3. Role. Which roles will you accept? Which position do you feel ready to take? Why do you think you are prepared for the challenge? 
  4. Type of School. Which schools will you work for? Which phases? Academies or Local Authority? Faith Schools? Independent? Single-sex or mixed?

This is Part 1. Parts 2 – 4 will be out in the next few days.

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