Why Do Schools Always Hire the Opposite of What They Just Had?

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Summer is here.

If I could sing I would. If I could dance I would.

Since my only marginal talent is rambling ill-conceived blogs, I am going to stick with what I know.

School is out which means it is time to find some new teachers. Which reminds me, interviewing is exhausting.

The process seems simple enough.

Step 1: advertise the open position.

Step 2: get 12 bazillion resumes on 87 different shades of white paper (who knew there were so many shades of white??).

Step 3: open the applications while constantly wondering… how much do these people spend on fancy paper, envelopes, and fancy folders?

This question always leads me to the same conclusion. The applicants really should have put as much time and effort into their college classes as they did applying for this position.

Step 4: schedule the interviews by emailing. No phone calls. It’s 2009.

Tag is fun. Phone tag is not.

I can remember when I was looking for my first job and the time and effort it took to check the answering machine 8,000 times a day.

When schools didn’t call back, I assumed the phone was broken. Turns out the phone was working just fine, the schools just didn’t want me.

There was a time when I was afraid to go out in the backyard because I might miss a call. If I did venture out, I almost always heard the phone ring (in my head) and would run back into the house to find…

… a phone that hadn’t rang and wasn’t broken. It was exhausting not getting hired.

Email seems simpler and less painful.

Which is why candidates shouldn’t hide their email address on their resume. It’s like playing “Where’s Waldo” with some of these people.

Put your email address on the front page of your resume in at least a 12 point font. I am begging you. I am old, which means the only thing that is worse than my eyesight is my patience.

I can barely find my car in the school parking lot. how do you expect me to find your email address if it is hidden on page 3 right next to the fact that you were in show choir your sophomore year of high school?

If I need a psychic, police dog, or a magnifying glass to locate your email address, I am not going to lie to you… the odds of you getting an interview aren’t good.

But I am venting (actually it feels good and could be considered somewhat healthy).

By the way I have another new pet peeve. The emailer who always has to have the last word (it’s like I am married to them).

If you are sending an email with 2 or less words take my advice and don’t. I won’t be confused or offended.

Examples of these emails include: Thanks, OK, Will do, Sure thing, and Got it. Email is not a new technology. It works.

If I have sent you an email, I am 99.9999999999999% sure that you have received it.

Please don’t feel like you have to respond to my email that was sent to confirm your last email. OK?

Got it?


The fun really starts during the actual interviews.

I think schools and administrators make a colossal mistake when interviewing.

They attempt to hire people who are the exact opposite of the person they are replacing.

And by exact opposite, I mean they are completely different in one area.

You see this all the time.

If the last person was older, the new hire must be younger.

If a retiring teacher was quiet, the replacement must be outgoing (this is good news for you show choir person!!)

If the last teacher thought his or her computer was evil and watching them as they moved around the classroom, the school will look for someone with a ton of computer skills (and no history of mental illness).

If the last coach was considered strict, the school will want someone that is kinder and gentler (then two years from now, this person will get fired because they are too kind and way too gentle).

When hiring an administrator, if the last one wasn’t strict, the school looks for a former Marine with anger issues and a crazy eye.

This happens over and over.

Even bad employees have good qualities. It’s a mistake to just focus in on their faults when looking for their replacements.

Having tunnel vision is not always the best way to find a good replacement.

You may hire a new employee who is better in a specific area, but what about the other 27 qualities in which they need to be successful?

Focusing in on one particular trait can lead schools to hiring people who aren’t complete educators, coaches, or administrators.

A year from now the same school will be looking for yet another new employee because this year’s version was lacking in a totally different area.

Which means, if you don’t get an interview this year you have twelve months to pick out some new white resume paper (or off-white… or ivory… or bone… or …).

And find out about the person you are replacing. You don’t have to be better than them, just different.

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11 Responses to “Why Do Schools Always Hire the Opposite of What They Just Had?”

  1. Dianne
    on May 31st, 2009
    @ 7:17 pm

    As usual, a fun read with actual good advice. But I thought we were all supposed to be doing digital portfolios now instead of boring resumes. I saw a gorgeous one today….I’d have hired her just so she could help me do mine! And, by the way, who does three-page resumes? Even with 36+ years experience, I have a one-pager.

    Have much fun this summer and pick some winners for fall!!

  2. Emily
    on Jun 1st, 2009
    @ 11:08 am

    re: Step 3

    We spend a lot of money on paper, envelopes and ink. I’m going on my third summer of applying for a teaching job and I’m wondering if I can afford another box of fancy “resume paper” :)

    Thanks for the great post!

  3. nina davis
    on Jun 1st, 2009
    @ 3:02 pm

    Hi again,
    Loving your blog! You sound like someone I could work for. Please visit my blog inbetween reading those applications. What color paper do you suggest?

  4. Natalie Schwartz
    on Jun 2nd, 2009
    @ 6:45 am

    Insightful post, and educational. I never realized one- or two-word e-mails were unnecessary and possibly irritating. This newfound knowledge is already saving me a lot of time. It’s very freeing to be able to just delete an e-mail instead of feeling compelled to send a reply to confirm receipt.


    Natalie Schwartz

  5. Joe Miller
    on Jun 2nd, 2009
    @ 6:28 pm

    I enjoyed your section about one word emails. My current principal has set up her email signature to be “Thanks,” followed by her name. When you send her something, she just hits reply and then send. I find it awesome because it saves her the time of actually typing a response and it helps make the teachers feel even less appreciated. One of my colleagues sent the principal a very nice email about the principal’s daughter and how much she enjoyed having her in class, etc., and she replied with her signature file.

    Also, the only time I’ve had a principal reply to my resume by email was when I drove the 45 minutes to his school to drop off hard copies (I emailed everything the day before). After I introduced myself, he said, “I just emailed you, we filled the position, but thanks for your interest.” It was a long drive home to read my rejection email.

    Keep up the good work and enjoy your summer.

  6. Al
    on Jun 5th, 2009
    @ 5:40 am

    Congratulations for this marvelous work you’ve done. Love the new look.

  7. Guy
    on Jun 10th, 2009
    @ 10:12 am

    Your post on resumes and interviewing was right on. With my 20 + years in education (13 years as an administrator) I continue to see the paper collage of resumes that you spoke of. I once read that if a candidate wants a particular job that they should address not only their cover letter but the objective as well specifically to that position.

    Next big mistake – spell the Principal/Personnel Directors name correctly! Every time I see a resume or letter/email of interest that has spelled my name incorrectly I immediately think to myself, “if this candidate won’t even take the time to make sure a minor thing like a name is spelled correctly I certainly do not want them dealing with any of my students parents!”

    I like to email back candidates to let them know where I am in the interviewing process (if I have an open position) and wish them luck as they go forward. We have all been there, in the beginning, when it seemed like just getting a foot in the door was next to impossible.

  8. noelle s.
    on Jun 16th, 2009
    @ 3:29 pm

    I think, that you’re wrong on this one. I would like to defend my position. Contact me by email.

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @noelle s., A reader who challenges me…. I like that.

    I admire you spunk (and I don’t throw the word spunk around easily).

  9. One
    on Jun 20th, 2009
    @ 1:01 pm

    The topic is quite hot in the net right now. How do you go about choosing what to write about?

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @One, Choosing topics is a complicated process which involves me writing about whatever pops in my head.

    No matter how idiotic it might be.

    Thanks for the comments.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.