Leadership Development Program

Top tips for a shining application

Six minutes
Ziska Ludowyke Thursday, March 25th, 2021

As it stands, not every child in Australia has access to the education they deserve. Children from the lowest income households are, on average, three years behind in school.

Teach For Australia seeks to break the cycle of educational inequity. We level the playing field for young people across Australia by recruiting and developing leaders in education.

Over two years, as an Associate in our award-winning Leadership Development Program, you’ll teach subject areas directly related to your previous studies – and you’ll become part of a dedicated community committed to tackling educational inequity.

Are you thinking of applying for the next Cohort of Teach For Australia’s Leadership Development Program?

Ziska Ludowyke, our Admissions & Selection Specialist, has put together eight critical tips for delivering a great application and creating a strong foundation for success during the selection process.

My name is Ziska, and I’ve been working at Teach For Australia for the last 12 years.

I’ve assessed hundreds of applications, conducted numerous interviews, and witnessed thousands of candidates go through our Selection Process.  

The first actions I recommend everyone do before they apply are: 

  • Check out our minimum eligibility requirements
  • Try to make time to chat with a Recruitment Manager before you apply.

Our Recruitment Managers are here to help you assemble a great application, and the vast majority of accepted candidates did those two things before they submitted an application.

We do encourage you to start an application and get a feel for the questions before you chat to a Recruitment Manager so that you can come with queries you have about the application itself.

If you’ve already checked the eligibility requirements and talked to a Recruitment Manager, you’re probably looking for some more specific tips that can help you finalise your application or get ready for an interview.

I have some of those to share, too!

Firstly, remember that our recruitment process is selective, not competitive. All the great teachers and leaders who are Alumni in our community are outstanding individuals with academic expertise and continue to demonstrate our eight key competencies. If you score above our benchmark for these, we will extend you a conditional offer.

Therefore, it’s essential to know how to showcase your passion, skills, and experience in your application.

Remember, we’re not looking for ready-made teachers; we’re looking for people with strong potential.

I talked to my team and we put together this list of tips to help you submit a great application.

1) Remember why you’re applying

We are a vision and mission-driven organisation that seeks to ensure that education gives every child, regardless of background, a greater choice for their future.

We want to hear about your connection and commitment to this work. Many of our candidates are drawn to this work because of their own educational experience – what about that makes you excited about creating the change we need?

We’re always excited to read about your motivations and goals in service to our mission, especially the things you’d like to achieve, across the two years of the program and as a member of our Alumni community.

Therefore, we recommend that you spend time reflecting on this before you begin your application.

2) Attention to detail helps you make good choices

We’re looking for people with great skills who might not have a depth of education experience, so don’t worry if your examples have nothing to do with this.

Every year we see lots of people who don’t show their skills off to their best ability because they picked the example they think we want to hear and not the one that best demonstrates the competency.

For each question, please make a note of what we have asked. Ensure that you answer the question in front of you, not what you think we might be looking for. 

3) Proofread

Communication is one of our core competencies.

An application free from grammatical and spelling mistakes and that conforms to the word count demonstrates seriousness and thought.

Make sure you read your application multiple times. It doesn’t hurt to have someone else proofread it either.

4) Maximise the word count & minimise the clutter

All aspects of the application are important. However, the questions that will most impact the progression of your application relate to the eight key competencies.

When answering these questions, we suggest you use all the word count provided. It’s important to remember that the person reading your application is not a specialist in your field, so aim for clear and concise answers and steer clear of technical jargon.  

5) Be a S.T.A.R.R

We suggest you bring this structure to your responses. 

  • Remember, we don’t know the situation, so please give some context to your experience. 
  • Goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound), so explain the task or target at hand.
  • Tell us what you did and why. Your actions always have an influence.
  • When you have a goal, you get a result. Sometimes the outcome is more important. Can you quantify it?
  • They say hindsight is 20/20. After all, is said and done, did you reflect on what you would do differently? What were your strengths? What would you improve or change?

If you have any word count leftover in your online application, looking at your answers through the S.T.A.R.R. lens will help you identify any opportunities to add more detail!

This action will help with further preparation for other parts of the selection process.

6) Plan to learn and learn to plan

Teach For Australia is a learning organisation, and so we live and breathe the learning and self-evaluation competency.

We also know that life is a juggling act, and this program throws several balls in the air at one time.

So, evaluate your planning systems during the application process. Tell us in detail what tools you use and why.

Finally, when you’re time-poor, efficiency is critical. Can you tell where you save time in the way you work and how you know this to be true?

7) Failure is not a dirty word

It can be strange for candidates when we only want to talk about their failure. However, we need to learn how you have worked through professional or academic challenges.

Our most effective Associates know their limits, know what support they need, and are not afraid to ask for help when faced with a challenge.

Do you know your limits or have mentors and coaches you seek out for advice? 

8) Follow through and finish what you start

We use email communications to keep you informed of how your application is progressing and what next steps you need to take.

A mistake that candidates make consistently is not reading the emails from us in detail, resulting in candidates missing a deadline.

If you need clarification on what is required, asking questions is always better than staying silent.

If you’re unsure about anything, ask a Recruitment Manager or the Admissions Team.

Remember, we strongly suggest that you explore your past achievements to find evidence for all eight key competencies before finalising your application.

Good luck with your application. We can’t wait to read it! 

Ziska Ludowyke – Admissions & Selection Specialist

Teach For Australia Admissions works on a rolling basis, and we have clear application deadlines.

The application saves your progress automatically to work on it over time, but please note that some subject areas close early.

If you’re yet to chat to a member of our recruitment team about applying for the program, express your interest here or reach out to apply@teachforaustralia.org.

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