Getting Ready for the Next Step in Leadership

One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.

– Arthur Ashe

As we approach the spring, typically administrators are gearing up for their internal letter of intents to determine who will be with them during the upcoming school year, teachers are reflecting and reviewing their options on whether or not they want a change and districts are planning their spring job fairs in an attempt to catch the high quality teachers early. As a future administrator candidate, how do you prepare for your next step in leadership?

I recently found myself in a quandary when I returned from the Thanksgiving break to discover that in approximately 2 weeks, I needed to find a new Assistant Principal for the second half of the school year. As I completed the task of finding a new AP, I reviewed all 81 candidate applications, references and resumes. You see, each document would shed a light on who the candidates were and whether or not they would be a great fit for my school. The challenge of course is how do you narrow them down to your top five for interview candidates? How do I find those resumes that provided artifacts as a  summary of their skills, abilities and accomplishments? As I reviewed the candidates, I quickly realized that people are not good at selling themselves.

What is the purpose of a resume? A resume is a quick advertisement of who you are. It is a snapshot of you with the intent of capturing and emphasizing your strengths and interests that will secure you an interview with an organization that could use your expertise.

So I asked myself, if I could speak to some of the candidates and provide feedback on some things to keep in my mind as they are beginning to apply for that leadership position, what would I say? Well, I will attempt to provide my 5 top things future leader candidates should keep in mind when applying for a leadership position.

  1. Attention to details matter. Stand out from the crowd with high quality content and a clearly written, error-free document. Don’t forget to have someone review your resume for errors, formatting and key information. Remember, your resume and cover letter is also a reflection of your writing skills and ability to communicate with others.
  2. Reflect leadership. When applying for a leadership position, be sure your resume reflects leadership experiences held during your tenure in schools. Your resume should reflect the job you are seeking. Leaders look for individuals who have experience leading others and leading change. This includes positions such as grade level chair, department chair, MTSS chair, School Improvement Team, etc.
  3. Do your homework. Research the school in which you are applying to. A web page or social media page will tell you a lot about the culture and climate of the organization you are applying to. Yes, data is important, however, data alone does not always tell the story of who the people are that make up the organization. How do you connect to their initiatives? What is important to the organization and how can you support or enhance what is already there?
  4. Update your references. Be sure you have updated references on your resume and in the online portal that your completing your application in. During my review of applicants, I found that many applicants had the same references from when they may have applied for a position with the same district over 2 years ago. In my district, we must have a reference from your current or most recent supervisor. Be sure your references are aware that you are applying and be sure they are able to give you a favorable reference.
  5. Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure. ~ Confucius. Prepare for the interview. It is never to early to prepare for your interview. If this is your first time interviewing for a leadership position, ask your current leader or friends in leadership to conduct a mock interview for practice. Nervous jitters can get the best of us. Research possible questions that are typically asked in these types of interviews. I have provided a video below that I have shared with many aspiring school leaders who have expressed interest in tapping their toe in the leadership pool. Principal Baruti Kafele’s video on “More Thoughts to Consider for the Assistant Principalship,” is one of the best videos I have found that gives you the “real talk” on interview preparation. Most importantly, know why you are wanting to be a leader. Your passion for leadership will come out during your interview.

So, are you ready for your for the next step in school leadership? Good Luck!

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