There is a lot of uncertainty for most people around the best way(s) to write a resume and application. Searching “resume tips” or “application tips” on Google will give you, quite literally, millions of results. For example, the Google search “best resume tips for teachers” returns 9,450,000 results. So it’s no surprise that many of us are overwhelmed when getting ready to apply for a position. Will the employer dismiss my resume immediately because of the formatting or will they read further because of the formatting? It’s daunting, but here are some basic tips to help guide you through the typical teacher’s application process.
Resume vs. CV
First and foremost, what is the difference between a resume and a CV? Though the terms are often used interchangeably in the US, an understanding of which is what can help make an impression on a recruiter. The basics: a CV is an often-longer, chronological description of your entire career – including publications, presentations, etc. You use the same CV for applying to any position. A resume is a short, sweet description of your experience and education to date as relevant to the position for which you are applying. Most US companies will ask for a resume. Give them a resume, NOT a CV.
If you have less than 5 years of work experience, your resume should be one page in length. Period. If you are a mid-level or senior professional, you may go up to 2-3 pages, but do not go beyond that. No recruiter will read it.
It is perfectly acceptable to include a short (2-3 sentences) professional summary at the top of your resume. But DO be specific about your skills. DON’T use a list of buzzwords that tell the reader nothing about you. “An experienced, hard-working professional with a strategic mindset and excellent interpersonal skills,” says nothing about you that is unique. “A Korean language instructor with 15 years of professional teaching at the adult level and an advanced degree in Curriculum & Instruction” does make it very clear who you are as a professional.
Order of Resume
It is entirely up to you which order you use: education before experience or vice-versa. Either is fine as long as the resume is laid out in an easily-readable format….
Don’t use overly creative formatting, fonts, colors, etc. Unless you are applying to be a Graphic Designer or Artist, such extra formatting will just distract from the content.
Use spell-check. Several times. Especially if you are applying for any type of educational position, it looks very bad to the recruiter if you don’t take the simple step of clicking on spell-check.
Be specific with your experience, and DO use numbers and metrics if available. As with the resume summary, recruiters want to see what you really did in a specific position, not what the generic, cookie-cutter description of the position would be. “Taught Farsi language and culture” doesn’t really make your resume stand out. “Taught Farsi language and culture classes to a group of 5 US Marines in an immersive environment; all students reached the target level 1+well before the end of the course” does give a far better picture of what you did and what you achieved.
Don’t include a “hobbies” section unless you are just out of school and have no work or volunteer experience to list. It is great that you enjoy traveling, but it does nothing to support your qualifications.
Include a cover letter with any application, but especially if the posting asks for one. Many recruiters receive an overwhelming response to each job posting, and one simple way to weed out applicants is to disregard those who did not follow the simple directions given. Don’t be in that group.
Tailor the cover letter to the position. You don’t necessarily need to write a brand new cover letter for every separate position for which you apply, but DO absolutely ensure that you have included the correct job title and company name in your cover letter.
Don’t tell your life story in the cover letter. It is meant to be a short summary of why you are the best person for the job. 2-3 paragraphs is more than enough to describe this. Anything longer will not be read.
Many job postings will ask for a salary requirement from you when you apply. This is a very tricky, sensitive issue for anyone. It is acceptable to say that you are highly interested in working with X company, so your salary requirement is negotiable/flexible based on the total compensation package, including non-tangible factors like the office environment, etc. However, if you have a set target rate below which you will not consider the position, give that target in either the cover letter or, should you be called for an interview, over the phone. If you are out of the salary range allotted for the position, it wastes everyone’s time not to be upfront about it.
At the end of the day, as long as your resume and cover letter are easy to read, not too long, and contain no spelling errors or major grammar mistakes, the content of your resume will be seen. And remember, it’s always a good idea to have someone read over both before you apply for any job – a friend, family member, former coworker.
Last but not least, good luck. We hope these tips for a teacher’s application process are helpful and help you get your dream job!