I know theres hundreds/thousands of teachers sitting down in front of their laptops today sending off another batch of standard application forms, copies of certificates, references, copies of degrees etc. and I know how disheartening it can be when all you get back is ‘Thanks but no thanks’. I think this is always made worse when you hear about people with connections getting jobs that you had hoped for/ had thought you might have had a chance with.

No one in my family is a teacher so I don’t have any connections therefore I know how hard it is to try and ‘get in’ to a school. Unfortunately in teaching (as in many other jobs..)  there is a huge element of ‘who you know’ there is no denying it and it can be so annoying to see a relative of the principal getting the job in the school you worked in for months/years. So what can you do about it? Nothing – if you don’t have connections you’ve got to go and make them yourself.

How do you make connections?

Subbing– in September (the end of the first week/ start of the second week) go to schools with your CV. Ask to speak to the principal if possible. Otherwise just leave your CV along with a little laminated card with your details on it for the secretary. When subbing in a school – go above and beyond. By making a good impression you will likely get asked back and be recommended to other principals/schools.

sub teacher

  • Arrive early
  • Be organised and prepared
  • Have good classroom management
  • Do the work that the teacher has left
  • Leave a note for the teacher detailing what you have covered (if no work has been left)
  • Be friendly – talk to the principal/ secretary and other members of staff (I know it can be daunting entering a new staff room)
  • Correct all the work you do (Don’t leave it for the teacher to correct)
  • Tidy the classroom – leave it exactly as you found it!

Courses – try and do at least 1 face to face course in the local education centre during the summer or during term time. Here you will meet other teachers in the local area. Schools often need substitute teachers at short notice and principals like to have substitute teachers that they know or that are recommended by their staff.

INTO– Many principals are heavily involved in the INTO. Go along to meetings – you’ll learn a lot yourself and get to meet the principals of the local area.

My Story

I qualified in 2011. I sent over a thousand application forms to every school in the country – from Cork to Dublin,  Westmeath to Donegal – every school – I was desperate for a job. I got nothing – not even an interview!

I went around to different schools in Waterford City and County handing in my CV talking to principals and secretaries and anyone else who would listen. I registered with Sub Search and paid to put my name on the sub register in the Waterford Teachers Centre. I got a few days subbing in September and this gradually increased during the next few months. By January 2012 I was offered a part time resource position in a school I had been subbing in. I was thrilled and started after the Christmas Holidays. I continued applying for jobs and 8 weeks later while subbing in a different school I was offered a maternity contract (full hours) shared between two schools. While I didn’t want to leave my part time job – I couldn’t turn down a full time job with the prospect of a further job the following year so I started in the new school in March.

At this stage I had worked (as a member of staff) in 3 different schools with 3 different principals. So in just 7 months, I knew 3 principals very well. (I had done subbing in 5/6 other schools too).


I had been promised a job in the main school the following year but this wouldn’t start til October/November as it was another maternity cover. I continued applying for jobs over the summer and got 2/3 interviews – I was unsuccessful in all of them. I was very disheartened and devastated especially after the last interview as I felt it had gone really well, I also knew the principal because I had gone to school there myself so thought maybe this once my connections would stand to me. I found out a few days later that there was a teacher already in the school (had been for the past 3 years) and she got the position.

Almost a week later, with just a few days before school started, the phone rang (it was the principal from the last interview) and I was asked if I was available for the first few weeks in September. I jumped at the chance and met with the principal the following day. The job had arisen because of a problem with the panel. There was 1 teacher left on the panel and there was a permanent job in the school but the teacher was unsure whether to take the job due to a long commute and other personal reasons. After 3 weeks, she decided to take a job closer to home so I was offered a temporary contract for the year. I was over the moon and was able to complete my DIP.


The following year I decided to move to the UK where I taught in 3 different schools. In 2014, we moved back to Ireland. I first moved to Waterford and then to Dublin. Once again I had no connections and had to start from scratch again. I started applying for jobs before I moved home but heard nothing back – other than rejection letters. By the end of August, I was getting very worried and not looking forward to another year of subbing. Eventually I got a call for an interview and was thrilled – it went well but I heard nothing back from the school.

The following Thursday while sitting in Heuston Station on my way to Waterford, I got a call from a principal of a school I had applied to offering me 2 months work covering for a teacher on study leave. I was delighted! The following day (Friday), I got a call from another school I had applied to (in May) asking if I would come for interview – I explained that I had agreed to cover two months already but was happy to come for interview anyway. On Monday, I got a call from the school who had offered me 2 months work – they were no longer able to offer me the subbing as something had fallen through.

The following Tuesday, I drove to the school (over a 50 minute drive in no traffic…), I did the interview and was fairly happy with how it went. That evening I got a call to offer me a temporary position for the year – I was thrilled! I started the following Thursday (2 days later!) The year went well and I applied and got a further temporary contract the following year. At the end of this year, I applied for and was granted a CID before the end of term so I’m looking forward to a third year in my school.

Don’t get too disheartened if you find out that someone got the job because they knew someone. Finding a job in teaching is difficult – it requires a lot of applications, a lot of proving yourself and a bit of luck! Best of luck!