Case studies

Megan is an experienced post-primary teacher who availed of my services in 2020. She recently contacted me with news that she has finally secured CID. Here is her story!

I worked with Orla two years ago when I was becoming disillusioned by the high number of rejections I was receiving despite having 6 years of teaching experience at post primary level. 

Making the Investment

I felt having a professional review of my CV and cover letter were my last investment in my teaching career. If this investment did not improve my prospects of a permanent contract, I vowed to leave teaching due to the lack of security. 

Your Application Stood Out”

I’m glad I used Orla Dempsey’s services in 2020, as the lockdown was at its height, jobs were scarce and even with numerous applications, I was not being invited to interviews. After my CV review with Orla, I was invited to an interview for an RPT contract. The interviewing principal said, “your application stood out”, which has stayed with me and I credit Orla’s services for that. 

The Way Forward

Last year as I prepared for my reinterview, I again worked with Orla on interview preparation. Her tips gave me confidence and support going into this interview. In May 2022 I have applied for my CID after 8 years of hard work, interviews and applications. I should soon have permanency in a school I love and I can look forward to my career instead of chasing permanency. 

Aoife is a young, NQT recently qualified from DCU. She had wonderful experiences on her teaching placements and was brimming with enthusiasm to finally get out and show a school what she could offer them as a new teacher.


Confusion about her next steps

As the job-seeking season approached, Aoife felt clueless.  Along with her classmates, she chatted about the SAF and they wished she could see a copy of a great SAF but there were none available for them and anyway, she wanted to create a document that represented what she had to offer. Some reassurance would be great though.

The difference an SAF review can make

She approached me to review her SAF at the end of June and we began the process quickly and efficiently. Aoife told me that she had a particular interest in Gaeilge and sport.  Immediately, I was impressed with her attention to detail and enthusiasm. Making a few simple tweaks to her documents made a huge difference to how readable and eye-catching her Standard Application Form and Letter of Application were. Shortly afterwards, she contacted me to say that she had indeed, secured an interview for the school she had done her teaching placement. She was thrilled!

The Investment was worth it

Again, Aoife reached out to me to go over some of her pre-planned interview answers. We chatted through some techniques and I gave her tips which meant that her interview answers really stood out amongst the rest. In early July, Aoife was offered the job and was thrilled that her summer was now free from job applications and nerves about securing a job.

Here’s what Aoife said about her experience working with me: “Working with Orla helped me secure my temporary job! As an NQT I was lost this year when it came to applying for jobs so I reached out to Orla. She was amazing at making the process simple. She gave me tips that I never would have thought of and I was really proud of my SAF when sending it off for job applications. I didn't have to wait long though - because I was invited to interview a week later and secured the job! Again Orla helped me there. I think that Orla is the best in the business. She really knows her stuff”.

Aoife, NQT, Dublin

* Thanks to Aoife O Grady who was happy to share her experience of SAF and Interview Confidence Coaching with us. Wishing you lots of happiness and success in your new role Aoife!


“It's great. I love my school and it's such a great feeling getting up in the morning going somewhere I love - and doing a job I love too”.




This is the journey of a real NQT and her journey to permanency in Summer 2020.


“Hi Orla, I've actually found that since I started following you I've been typing your name into the search to see what you have up daily I've never done that with anyone else I follow. Everything you say connects with me. Some days it's the best pick me up on the job search.”

These were the first words sent to me by Kerry*, a Primary school teacher based in Co. Cork. Kerry has a young family and she is newly qualified. She had struggled in the past securing interviews and performing well in them and she was down to her last straw.

In summer 2020, Kerry wanted to get a job in her local area (which is notoriously difficult to get jobs in). She reached out to me on August 1st and continued to ask me questions to help herself get clarity about her journey and she even took part in a Gaeilge challenge I ran during the final weeks of the summer hols.


Making the First Move

After our short phone call, Kerry knew that in order to create a different result this year, she needed to try something different - and that, she decided meant working with me.

After reflecting on her experiences and using the free content in the highlights section of my Instagram Page, Kerry updated both her Standard Application Form and her CV so that it was her best effort at selling herself. She knew that if she gave me the best information possible, the hour that we spent on our 1-1 coaching call would be gold as together, we discarded irrelevant information, updated key information and tailored the information to the next school vacancy in her locality.

She was thrilled with what we had produced together.


Opportunities Arise

Opportunities came and went over the next couple of weeks and eventually, Kerry saw an advertisement for a maternity leave position in her dream school. She was proud of her application form and she had subbed there so she knew how to tailor her application so that it would peak their interest and…. low and behold… Kerry got an interview there.

Though she had already invested in a SAF and CV Review, Kerry knew she was not over the line. She approached me about my interview services and completed a session with me. She felt that the best part was going through the questions she found difficult to answer such as what can you offer our school, what talents you have. She was nervous but excited and was thrilled that the position had arisen AND…. She got the job!!



But that was not the end. Twelve weeks later Kerry messaged me saying that she was on the supplementary panel and a permanent position had just been advertised. Alas, it was the Halloween Break and she was unsure if she should contact the management to express her interest in the job. Ultimately, she KNEW she had to go for it. She lit candles and everything. :D

A permanent post was just too good of an opportunity to miss out! She let the management team know about her supplementary panel rights and now she is a permanent member in her dream school.

Kerry invested in herself each step along the way. Just weeks later she now teaches junior infants and to think, this time last year she was a substitute teacher.

Kerry’s advice for NQTs is…. “Trust the process - looking back I can now see why and how everything happened the way it did to lead me to where I am today”.


*All quotes and message content are exactly as Kerry wrote them though her name and identifying details have been changed.

Learn more about working with me

Tired of Sending out Job Applications and Not Hearing Back? Read Mark’s Experience.

This case study is not based on one particular individual that I have mentored – but Mark (a young, fictional teacher) is a typical case for my SAF/CV Review services.

Introducing Mark

“I’m sick and tired of bouncing around from maternity leave to maternity leave, subbing a few days here and there. I want to have my own class for a change. I want to feel that I finally, have a place in a school and an opportunity to feel like a proper member of staff. I’m worried that I’ll never get the start that I deserve – after all, I worked so hard in college for this” - Mark confides to me in our phone call together.


Jobs are Scarce and it’s an Uphill Struggle

Mark would really love a job in Kerry – ‘but shur jobs are like hen’s teeth back at home’ he says – and so, he’s applying mostly to Dublin based schools in the hopes of securing a contract in the city. He sees his future in Kerry but he feels he’d never get a look in, in his native land.  It’s best to get the experience first and then apply he tells himself.

Mark has five years experience but he lived for three years in the UK with his girlfriend which means that he now feels on the bottom of the pile when it comes to job hunting.

He just needs a chance to get his foot properly in the door to prove himself. He can’t do that without getting the interviews first though.


How an Application Form Review Helped Mark Get Interviews

During our phone call, Mark came across to me as a confident, fun-loving and enthusiastic teacher. His main concern however, was that he wasn’t receiving interview offers despite sending out tens of applications so far this Summer.  He was bored of it. Disillusioned with the whole process. He was beginning to wonder if there was any point in continuing the search for a teaching job.

After booking his Standard Application Form and Letter of Application review, Mark sent me his best copy of his job application form - along with a sample job description for a job he was applying for.

I reviewed his documents, gathered my observations about his skills and experience and later that week, we had our phone call. Over the phone, we reviewed my findings of Mark’s job application form. I spotted his strengths, brought them to the fore and tidied up any oversights in phrasing and detail. The review gave Mark some key phrases that were missing from his original document. He immediately included them as we spoke on the phone.


Highlighting Mark’s Transferable Skills

We found that his passion for handball could be an asset for any school. Mark spoke so passionately about his days playing handball as a child. It was astonishing to hear the passion in his voice for his favourite sport. 

He also has expertise in marketing from his undergrad degree which is beneficial to schools – especially ones that may be thinking of updating their website. Finally, Mark has a special interest in History and enjoys using a range of methodologies to bring the subject to life! 

None of these key areas were adequately highlighted in his Application Form. Making clever tweaks, using key phrases and highlighting key skills can make a massive difference to how a job application is received. 

A mentoring conversation – really helps me to get to know my clients, allows us to really discover each teacher’s unique selling points and leaving the conversation my clients feel a massive sense of relief with a renewed confidence that tweaking a few things makes their application MUCH MORE IMPRESSIVE!

The Result

Making a few changes to his application meant that Mark was soon invited to lot of interviews and he returned for more sessions to practice his interview skills. He now is has fantastic opportunities ahead, job offers to choose between and the class and security he wanted in a lovely school. His only regret? That he didn’t get his application form reviewed earlier!

Email me now, if you feel that making a few changes to your application and outlook could provide you with the routine and security that you deserve! 

Overwhelmed, exhausted and feeling disillusioned with teaching? Read Mary’s experience.  

This case study is not based on one particular individual that I have mentored – but Mary (an experienced fictional teacher) is a perfect example of the kind of person I support through my coaching and mentoring services.


Introducing Mary

Mary is an experienced teacher with 17 years dedicated to the profession.

Over the last few years however, she has begun to get disillusioned with the changes that are rapidly occurring within the profession.

“It’s all notes, notes and more notes”, she says to me. She has a young family and they need her attention too.

Home Life

Each evening, Mary leaves school at 4pm. This evening, she brings a set of copies home (she promises herself that she WILL correct them tonight and not leave them in the boot of the car as usual). At 4.30, she launches into cooking the dinner while the kids argue over which TV channel to watch, next she does a bit of housework and the kids’ homework with them before her husband, Thomas gets home. 

Some family TV time and wind-down then, and by 7pm the guilt arises – those copies in the car. She needs to create a couple of resources before school tomorrow too. At 9pm, when the kids are in bed, she sits down in front of the TV with the laminator, copies and pen in hand and begins her work for school tomorrow. 

Mary has lost balance, creating little time for self-care

There’s not much time for exercise these days. It is with a little sadness, she realises, that family come first, school second and she comes third.  She can’t remember the last time she had a ‘Girls Day’ with her friends or went swimming which is something she used to love to do. 

The Result

Mary realised that something needed to change, so she reached out to me for help. Through coaching, Mary realised that the rate at which she is living life, was having a detrimental effect on her relationship with her husband and children and that, in fact, there were a few things she had been doing in school that could be done more effectively, saving her some time.

With the support of coaching, Mary became accountable and between sessions she took small actions that meant she could save a little time which she now dedicates to herself – taking some headspace by the canal close by for a 15 minute walk daily. Setting this time aside for herself meant that she is now less stressed and more contented in her home life. 

Furthermore, as a result of identifying her values around family and self-care, Mary created boundaries around the time and energy she puts into her paperwork for school and is sticking to them. Now, she is happier and she is more focused on what needs (and does not need to be done) for school.