GET THAT WOMAN A JOB!
(This is the concluding article in a three-part series on Female Leadership.)
Our focus in previous articles has been on identifying emerging leaders in our schools and classrooms, understanding the skills female leaders typically possess, and offering resume-building opportunities for emerging leaders to help them expand their influence beyond the classroom setting. We now turn our focus to assisting the emerging leader – and, especially, the female leader – in successfully navigating the school district supervisory and administrative job search process.
How can district administrators support women in the job search?
Women are more apt to have the confidence to pursue leadership positions if they know their supervisors support them and think them capable of such work.
- Begin by having a conversation with the emerging leaders in your district about potential career paths and offer to support their journey.
- Scan for job postings and share these with emerging leaders, along with any insight about the district or position that might be relevant. Encourage the leader to look outside her own district for positions.
- Assist with proofreading and reviewing her resume.
- Encourage the leader to prepare a portfolio, letters of reference, etc.
- Encourage the leader to apply to a variety of school communities with the initial goal of interview practice. It is better to practice in a place that isn’t necessarily a “first choice” than to wait for that dream job and have it be the first interview experience since the Clinton years.
- Help with potential interview questions.
What does interview practice look like for female leaders?
- Practice a 2-3 minute introduction that addresses the question, “So, tell me a little about yourself.” And, remember, it’s an interview and not a date. Limit the personal information.
- Find a way to boast about your skills without boasting about your skills. Applicants will typically be asked to reflect upon areas of strength. For some women, this can be challenging, particularly for those raised in families where behavioral traits like being quiet and unassuming were valued. Sometimes, phrases like, “I’ve been told that . . .” or “Colleagues have commented on my ability to . . .” allow a leader to comfortably describe her strengths in a way that isn’t showy.
- Make it a “show and tell.” Rather than lugging a huge 3-ring binder to the interview, have the leader select a few relevant artifacts, such as a parent newsletter, a copy of a curriculum document that reflects the leader’s work, or the outline of a workshop presented by the leader. Then, be prepared to hand these out when the conversation naturally pertains to such items. Don’t wait until the end of the interview to ask, “Would you like to see some samples of my work?”
- Work on projecting a confident image, strong body posture, and good eye contact. Many women have a tendency to make themselves small in stressful situations - folded arms, low shoulders, crossed legs. Practice sitting tall, offering a confident handshake, and speaking in a clear voice.
Oprah Winfrey said, “For every one of us that succeeds, it’s because there’s somebody there to show you the way out.” As school and district leaders, it is imperative that we show emerging leaders the way toward positions that allow them to influence schools and departments and districts. Which emerging leaders in your community will you support?