|Would you hire me?|
Guest Post by Benjamin Harrison
As some of those who are considering the leap to teaching in a prep school know, Carney, Sandoe and Associates (CSA) are the most important name in the business.
For the uninitiated, CSA is a search firm hired by independent schools to help them fill teaching and administrative vacancies. Candidates “apply” to CSA and if they are accepted, the firm then operates as a matchmaker, connecting candidates with schools. The hard part (or at least the first hard part) is getting past the CSA gatekeeper. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this process is that even having gone through the process, I have no idea what CSA looks for in a candidate.
A few years ago I applied, and got nowhere. Last year I applied again, and made it. Same guy, same CV for the most part (I doubt they care that my book is under contract!), different result. My only piece of advice is that if you apply and get turned down, contact someone at CSA and ask how you can improve your application. I know this runs counter to everything we hear about the market – the discussion forum on the Chronicle of Higher Education has many, many threads telling candidates not to contact the search committee and ask why they were turned down.
The difference, of course, is that a university’s search committee doesn’t care even a little bit whether you ever find a job. (Hell, by the time you receive your rejection they have forgotten your name.) CSA, in contrast, would be pleased as punch if you were to submit a stronger application, get through the process, and then get hired. Why? Because that’s how they make their money.
Once CSA accepts you, you have to fill out an extensive questionnaire to make sure that the match is a good one. The questions range from teaching background and interests, to the kind of school you’d prefer (boarding? Single-sex? Military? Religious? Militantly religious?), to your geographic preferences, and interest in extracurricular activities. Then you submit a vita, personal statement, transcripts and a list of references. And then you wait for CSA to work their magic.
The magic begins to happen . . . well, in my case it began today when I received my first referral. A referral is simply an email announcing that CSA has sent your file to a particular school. Ideally (though not always) the school will fit the criteria you laid out in the candidate questionnaire. In some cases, the school will then contact you offering a phone interview. In others, you must make the first move, sending a cover letter and/or email confirming your interest in the position.
The referral I received today stated that if I am interested in the position, I should follow up by mail or email. In this case, I have decided not to follow up – it is a relatively new school, which raises concerns about its stability, and (to be honest) at this point I’m feeling pretty picky.
*Have any comments or questions about the private school application process? Ask your questions here, or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org