In a 2018 survey conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, it was revealed that 93.6% of University of Manchester graduates go straight into full time employment or further study. However, some of our students manage to find graduate level jobs while still studying.
One person who can say this is PGDip Deaf Education student, Adele Darroch, who managed to secure a Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) position while still in her first year of training. Below, she reveals how she found the application process and offers some fantastic advice for anyone else who is looking to secure employment in deaf education while still in training.
The move back to university to do a postgraduate degree has been a challenge, but incredibly rewarding. It was a decision I made after working as a Teaching Assistant in a hearing resource base for five years and absolutely loving it.
At the end of my first year on the PGDip, I saw a job for a Specialist Teacher of the Deaf advertised and pushed myself to apply, as I knew the process of getting together an application was something I needed to do. I was pleasantly surprised to get offered an interview and subsequently the offer of a job.
I will share with you some of the things I think I did well on my application and my thoughts on how I could have improved it:
The application process
A good letter of application will get you the interview and the opportunity to meet the team you are thinking of joining so that everyone can get a feel for whether you are right for the job, including you. A good way to open the letter is to explain why you are applying for the post, be enthusiastic about deaf education and talk about your particular passions, say why you want to teach deaf children.
Read the job specification and make sure you address all the points and give evidence – sometimes that will mean talking about skills you already have, other times saying what you hope to develop. I think it’s fine to be honest about gaps in your employment too and talk about the positives they have brought you in relation to the post – for example, I had quite a long gap at home with my own children.
Make the application personal and don’t be frightened to sell yourself – I think I could have been braver on that front. What have you got to offer a team or school that no-one else has? If you have already completed the first year of your ToD training then you might want to think about the vital skills that you have gained on placement.
Make sure you proofread your letter, spell all names correctly and tell them you would really relish the opportunity to meet them at interview. Enthusiasm is key!
Make the most of this opportunity as getting an interview in the first place is a major achievement in itself. Once I knew that I had got to the interview stage I spoke to other ToDs who do similar roles to the one that I had applied for, I asked friends on my course who had recently had interviews about what they had been asked, and I asked my lecturers what they thought the employer would be looking for.
I came up with up with a whole list of possible questions after speaking to all of these contacts and thought about how I would answer them. After formulating my answers, I practised saying them out loud. As crazy as that may seem this was a huge help and gave me confidence in my interview.
Make sure you actually answer the question you are being asked and don’t be frightened to ask the interviewers to repeat the question even halfway through an answer. My interview was on Teams because of Covid-19 and I actually thought it might have been helpful for me to write some key points of the question down to help myself stay on track.
Smile and take your time, don’t be afraid to pause and give yourself time to think, I was a little bit rushed at times. I had a few photographs of some of the work I had done with children to share which really helped me as I find it much easier to talk about actual children and how I like to work.
Get across your passion for deaf education and your main interests and strengths and think a bit about the current issues in deaf education. I also had a few questions in mind that I wanted to ask the panel at the end of my interview to see if I thought I was right for their team. I learnt so much from one interview, the time flies by, and my top tip is to just be honest, positive and yourself.
I am far from being an expert on applications or interviews but hopefully sharing my recent experience will be of help to anyone else hoping to secure a ToD post at this time. Good luck and keep applying, I’ll share with you some words someone significant encouraged me with when they knew I was doubting myself – ‘You have as much chance as anyone else to get the job, go for it.’