It’s that time of year again! Schools are hiring, which means it’s interview season. Step one in landing that dream teaching job–have a killer resume.
When I started teaching, schools typically received applicants fresh out of teacher preparation programs. Teachers didn’t tend to leave or move jobs very frequently. It was very common to see teachers stay at the same school for 30 years or more. My how times have changed! Today’s teachers are more mobile, which means that there are more resumes hitting the desk of your hiring principal. I don’t have a magic bullet that’s sure to land you the job, but I know that your resume is your best foot forward. Unless you have a colleague in the school who can vouch for you, you’re going to have to rely on your resume and your skillset or experience.
Here are some tips to help your resume stand out:
Go for a clean format. There are no shortage of resume templates out there; pick one that had a clean or sparse look to it. You don’t want anything that’s going to take the focus off of your experience, whether it’s work or education.
Use text features, but sparingly. Stick with a neutral font in standard size. No wacky fonts! If you want your name to stand out, bold it. Make sure your name and contact information is clearly visible.
Write an objective. There’s a lot of debate about this one, but the objective, when properly written, is your first step in introducing your personality. Are you all business? Do you have a speciality? It’s crucial that you look up the school’s mission and incorporate some portion of it in your objective. Objectives no longer look like: “seeking employment as a third grade teacher.” NO way! If the school’s mission mentions 21st Century skills and you’re into tech–use it. If they have a push for data and that’s your strong suit, include it. Please don’t promise something you can’t deliver though. It might get you noticed at first, but it will never land you a job.
My objective is to use best-practices and 21st Century skills to meet the needs of diverse middle grade learners.
Clearly highlight education, teaching licenses, and awards up front. The hiring principal shouldn’t have to hunt around for information on your resume! Make sure your strengths are clearly highlighted by placing them high on the page. No GPAs required here. If you have multiple degrees and/or licenses, feel free to combine that information.
MEd. Curriculum and Instruction, 2009, English 6-12
Master’s Certificate, 2011, ESOL pk-12
Be clear about the dates and locations of your previous employment. I’ve seen a lot of resumes that skip information like dates and places of employment. I think the logic is here that there’s something in the employment history that’s going to impede hiring. The principal wants to see what you’ve done and when. Give them this information. They may toss it aside if you don’t.
Briefly state previous job description based on your job description and include those educational buzzwords. Here’s where you get a chance to really shine. Use those buzzwords as appropriate to really sell your stuff. Do you have expertise with a reading program or assessment tool that your intended school uses? Mention it. Be specific. Please don’t say: taught fourth grade. I can promise you, that administrator cannot get a sense of your expertise with a job description like that. If you need to, look up your own job description and paraphrase from there.
Taught English to newcomer ELLs using 1:1 technology, resulting in language gains of 2+ years in only one school year.
Include references with phone numbers and email addresses. I’ve never had anyone call the references from my resume. These days, there’s typically an online application protocol that school districts use, which require you to submit your references electronically. But you never know if an administrator wants easy access to those numbers. Include them at the bottom of your resume, where they won’t take up more valuable real estate.
Stay away from the colored paper, clip art, or borders. The elementary teachers might balk at this one, but guys and gals, skip the classroom pizzaz. I know you want your resume to stand out, and I know you want to show this person what type of teacher you are, but a resume is a professional document. Now isn’t the time for your best bulletin board ideas. Save that for after you’ve gotten the job.
Proofread Proofread Proofread! As a teacher with a background in English and ESOL, I cannot tell you how many times I see a silly error and wonder if an applicant is serious about the job. Your resume must be 100% error free. Get a trusted friend, a colleague, and a family member to look it over. The more eyes the better.
I hope these tips are helpful for writing your next resume!
And remember, whenever possible, hand deliver the resume to the administrator or principal who is in charge of hiring. It only takes a quick internet search and possibly a brief phone call to the school secretary to find out who is conducting interviews for the position. Get that person’s name and get your resume into his or her hands. It’s best to stop by after school when the principal isn’t too busy. The school secretary is also a good resource here too; he or she knows the principal’s schedule and can recommend a good time to pop in. Remember to dress for success and bring a clean printed copy of your resume.
If a hand-delivery isn’t an option, email is suitable. Friendly but professional is the way to go.
Know someone looking for a teaching job? Please share with them.
Come back tomorrow for Part II: How to Ace That Teaching Interview