If you’re a teacher (or working on becoming one), you know that by the time you complete your degree(s), your training courses, and any standardized exams your state throws your way, the job search can feel like yet another daunting process. Or maybe you’re further along in your career and you’re ready for a scenery change, or a subject change. Whatever the case may be, your resume should be a painless part of the process. Let’s look at some strategies you can use as you craft your own teaching resume.
Do a little pre-resume brainstorming.
Before you start cranking away, here are some resume basics to consider before you even start working on your resume. Ask yourself:
- Who is going to be reading this? Will it be another educator or administrator, or a layperson? This can help you determine how much jargon or career shorthand you can use.
- What do I want to emphasize most about myself and my career? What are the assets that make you the most valuable hire?
- What is my goal with this resume? Are you looking to find your first job in the field, change jobs, or move up?
Thinking about these things ahead of time helps you refine your resume before you’ve even begun. You’ve got ideas. Now you just need some structure for them…
Open strong with a headline, objective, or summary.
At the top of your resume will be your contact info, of course (don’t be that guy or gal who thinks that the cover email is enough contact info for this digital day and age), but after that is your opening statement. You could just dive right into the details of your resume, but think about it—this is a chance to really introduce yourself to the reader, and set the narrative for the rest of your resume. Chances are, whoever is reading your resume will also be reading a pile of resumes from other people who may be similarly qualified for the job. So you want to take every edge you can get, including a sentence or two to help set you apart from those others.
Headlines are exactly what they sound like: a brief, bold one-liner about who you are. A headline is brief, and it doesn’t contain your life story, but it does tell the reader who they’re about to meet in the rest of the resume. Here are some examples:
- Columbus School District Teacher of the Year
- Seasoned Educator and Expert Curriculum Builder
- Creative, Metrics-Focused Elementary School Educator
Objective statements are a couple of brief sentences letting the reader know your intent. The reader already knows you want a job, so you don’t need to be that explicit. The objective can be more about your short-term goals with this position. Are you looking to change your career? Start your career? Level up with a leadership role? The objective helps the reader see what you’re angling for, besides an interview. Here are some examples:
- Educator with 10 years of experience seeking an administrative role.
- Looking for a position as a special-needs teacher at Washington Academy, bringing a creative, high-energy approach to student outcomes.
- Seeking a position as a math teacher focusing on technology integration and curriculum best practices to improve student achievement.
Summary statements are more of a brief collection of highlights that you want to emphasize about yourself. Resume summaries are sometimes called “qualifications summaries” or “competencies.” Here, you call out the skills and accomplishments that you want the reader to focus on. For example:
- Motivated, energetic teacher who values diversity and creativity in the classroom
- Results-focused leader with a record of improving student test scores year-over-year
- 15 years of curriculum-building experience, and development of classroom activities in accordance with state standards and best practices
Again, not the life story, but a bit of a sneak preview for the reader. You should be prepared to back up your intro statements with more detailed skills or experience bullets later in the resume.
Make your experience work for you.
As a teacher, you’ve got a lot of things already working for you on your resume: your education and certifications, which are essential elements. Those are concrete points that you don’t really need to finesse or wordsmith—they are what they are. You should highlight your education and credentials in a brief section near the top of the resume.
After that, you can start being a little more creative with your resume structure. If you already have a ton of classroom experience, then you can go the traditional route and put your work experience next, followed by skills.
If you’re a recent grad or a career changer, and don’t yet have tons of experience, consider going with a more skills-heavy format. This puts your skills and general qualifications front and center, giving it higher priority over the “experience” section. And even if you feel like you don’t have a lot of experience (yet), you do have things you can use to flesh out that experience section. Volunteer work, club or professional association activities, or extracurricular teaching work you’ve done can also be used here. That community writing seminar you ran at the senior center last year? Include it. Your three recent summers as a camp counselor working with elementary age students while you completed your undergrad work? Include it, if it applies to the teaching job you’re seeking. (If you’re seeking an early childhood education job, great—if you’re looking to teach calculus to seniors, maybe not as relevant). You can be creative here to fill in gaps.
As you’re building your experience section, don’t forget to list accomplishments, not duties. The person reading the resume is more interested in what you’ve achieved in your career so far, not necessarily what your 10 daily duties were in your last job. It’s important to highlight only the most relevant experience points, related to the job you’re seeking.
Be selective about your skills.
Sure, you may have the highest Candy Crush score in the county, or play the harmonica intro to “Piano Man” so beautifully it’d make Billy Joel himself cry. Those are great skills to have. But they may not work on your resume. Your skills section, like the rest of your resume, should be laser-focused on the job at hand. These six skill sets are among the top skills for teachers, so you should concentrate on these areas:
- Communication skills. Teachers communicate all the time—they work directly with students, other teachers, administrators, staff, and parents on a regular basis. Make sure you emphasize your strengths when it comes to writing, speaking, presenting, and—perhaps most importantly—listening.
- Problem solving skills. Teachers are problem-solvers, and help others solve them as well. You can provide examples of how you solve conflicts, how you can adapt lesson plans in real time, and how you approach those unexpected moments in any classroom.
- Organizational skills. Hiring managers will be interested to know how you juggle a teacher’s many tasks (classroom teaching, meetings, grading, lesson planning, etc.). Your time management skills are crucial, so definitely emphasize those on your resume.
- Patience. Whether you’re teaching a classroom of six-year-olds or sixty-year-olds, one of the key characteristics of an educator is patience, and the ability to work with any student to help them learn and achieve. Not everyone has patience, so this is a good skill to include on your resume.
- People skills. Similarly, general people skills are an asset on your resume. The reader will want to know you can work with others in a productive way, especially students. But this applies to others as well, because teachers are very much team players, interacting with their colleagues and administrators every day as well.
- Technological skills. We live in an ever-more-digital world, and teachers who can help bring technology into the classroom productively can be major assets for a school. The skills section is a good place to call out your career-relevant tech expertise.
Don’t skip the editing.
After you’ve written your resume, there is one more non-negotiable step: you need to review it carefully. Do you really need everything you’ve included? Is everything relevant to the job description? And most important, have you obsessively proofread it, and/or had someone trusted do it for you? It can be tempting to hit “send” as soon as you write the last word, but you should always, always take that extra step and make sure the whole document is exactly as it should be.
For examples of teacher resumes (entry level, mid-career, and seeking upward movement), we’ve got you covered: How to Write a Perfect Teaching Resume (Examples Included). And if you need more inspiration, our Resume Library is a click away as well.
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