Applying for a new teaching job is intimidating enough. Filling out tedious applications on multiple platforms, writing responses to vague short answer questions, contacting references and asking for letters of recommendation, completing those awkward questionnaires with multiple correct answers…the list goes on. Once you are caught up in this process, it’s easy to overlook one of its most important parts: your teacher resume!
I know this because I was recently doing all of the above, clicking through a job application and nearly ready to submit until I hit the “Upload your resume here” page. When I went to find my resume in my drive, my heart sank + cringed + died a little bit inside. My resume was outdated, overcrowded, and just plain ugly. Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but I didn’t feel like it was a representation of ME and what I had to offer as a teacher.
I wanted to stand out among the crowd of applicants. I wanted my resume to be a breath of fresh air among the ugly Times New Roman resumes. And most importantly, I wanted to get calls, interviews, and a job. So I sat down and got to work on my extreme resume makeover. 5 hours later, I had a resume that made me proud. A few weeks later, I had a brand new teaching job!
Why you should give your resume an extreme makeover
Your teacher resume is your personal sales pitch and highlight reel of what you have to offer, so it makes sense to give it some extra TLC when you’re navigating the job search. An impressive resume can make the difference between getting calls back and being shuffled to the back of the stack. If your resume is ugly, nonexistent, boring, or ancient, then I am here to help!
After teaching resume writing to a group of seniors and revamping my own resume, I rounded up what I learned about creating standout resumes so I could share it with you. Here are my top ten tips for creating an impressive teacher resume that will lead to calls, interviews, and a JOB!
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
This means doing your research on resumes and the school. If you’re reading this article, then you’re already doing the first part, so congrats! It’s important to make sure you are up-to-date on the most current resume trends and advice. I actually learned this when I was teaching resume writing to my senior Technical Communication students. For example, when I created my first teacher resume over 6 years ago, I included the traditional “Objective” section. In recent years, the “Objective” section has largely been replaced by what’s called a “Professional Profile” or “Professional Summary.” After you’re done reading this post, go research that (or use my extra-helpful resume writing guide that comes with my resume templates).
After researching resume tips and trends, don’t forget to research your desired school/s. Find their mission statements and read their news feeds. Re-read those job-postings and take note of what the school wants in a teacher. Make sure this information is fresh in your mind so you can align what you have to offer with the school’s mission. Even if you don’t have a specific school in mind, research area schools and think about what you want in a school. Then, use language that will attract the kind of school or position you want.
2. FIND OR CREATE A VISUALLY APPEALING TEMPLATE
If you’ve done a bit of research, then you probably know that your Times New Roman resume from 2010 is a little ancient (and probably ugly – sorry). You don’t have to be a graphic designer, but you should consider making your outdated resume more organized, appealing, and modern if you want to stand out in 2020. Luckily, there is no shortage of resume templates. If you want to make it even easier on yourself, find a resume template designed with teachers in mind. If you’d like to take on the challenge of designing your own teacher resume, here are a few tips:
- Use a clean, professional font for your text. If you’d like to add a title or accent font, a decorative one should be fine.
- Add boxes (shaded and outlined) to organize and separate information
- Use purposeful bolding or italics
- If you want, add a small dose of color (even if it’s grey or black)
3. MAKE SURE YOUR TEACHER RESUME IS ORGANIZED AND READABLE
One survey revealed that most (68%) hiring managers spend less than 2 minutes looking at resumes, with 17% spending less than 30 seconds. Another even claimed that hiring managers spend as little as 7 seconds skimming over each resume. Whatever the number, one thing is clear: It’s not a lot of time. Your resume should stand out, but more importantly, it should be easy to read.
Because hiring managers or principals will be quickly scanning dozens (or hundreds) of resumes, yours needs to be organized, clear, and readable. Don’t go so wild on the design that you overcrowd your resume or create an overwhelming, difficult to read document. Prioritize the readability of your resume. The more reader-friendly it is, the more time the reader will spend glancing at it and learning about what you have to offer. If you’re struggling to format your resume, consider a template with a balanced, well-structured layout. Columns and shaded boxes work well to organize your information into readable sections.
4. BRING ATTENTION TO YOUR MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Make sure that your most important information is higher up on your resume, and consider bringing attention to it with text formatting. When I designed my resume, I wanted my name to be the first thing hiring managers or principals noticed. Even if the prinicipals tossed my resume aside, I wanted them to remember my name for future opening.
To bring attention to my name, I typed it in the upper left-hand corner at the top of a vertical grey box. I increased the font size and used bolding for emphasis. I also made sure that my “Professional Profile” and “Teaching Experience” sections were prominently placed. Those “Professional Profile” conveys my teaching philosophy and values, and my “Teaching Experience” showcases the strong experience I have to offer. Notice how the “Skills” section is probably the least prominent. This was purposeful as well. I wanted to highlight my philosophy, experience, and achievements more than I wanted to list my skills (many of which are better conveyed in the other sections).
5. BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE
Every teacher “plans and teaches lessons,” so be specific in your employment experience bullet points. If your bullet points are so generic that they could apply to almost any other teacher, then you’re not going to stand out from the crowd of applicants. Here are some questions to help you be more specific when you outline your experience:
- What have you accomplished? Did you start an initiative? Serve on a committee? Present at staff meetings? Increase test scores, participation, etc?
- Can you include evidence (statistics, numbers, details) to illustrate your accomplishments?
- What did you teach, and how did you teach it? What unique strategies or technology did you utilize?
5. USE PRECISE, POWERFUL WORD CHOICE
While your resume should be informative, it should also be persuasive. It’s your personal sales pitch and a highlight reel of what you have to offer. The language you use can elevate that sales pitch (or it can make you a generic, bland teacher in a stack full of resumes). Use your word choice to your advantage. Illustrate your unique experiences with strong action verbs. Highlight your values and skills with precise, powerful word choice. Word choice is EVERYTHING, and Thesaurus.com should be your best friend while you’re working on your resume. Make sure that you vary your word choice and find powerful synonyms for common words like teach, plan, use, etc.
Not the best writer? If you’re looking to save time and upgrade your word choice, then check out my teacher resume templates. Each includes a thorough resume writing guide with a list of 100+ precise, powerful action verbs and synonyms, 50+ educational phrases, and “Write This, Not That” examples. The best part is that it’s completely tailored to teacher resumes, so you won’t have to spend time wading through other lists of irrelevant words.
7. ADD, DELETE, OR CHANGE SECTIONS AS NEEDED
A resume is not a one-size-fits-all document. Its contents should reflect YOU, not all of the Jane Does you’ve seen on the resume templates on Pinterest. If your resume template has sections that don’t really apply to you, delete them and add new sections that illustrate your experiences and skills. Make the template your own!
For example, when I was searching for my first teaching job fresh out of college, I created an additional section titled “Community Service” and listed my volunteer work. Another example of a section that can often be deleted is “References.” Employers typically ask for references in the application, so repeating this information on your resume is just a waste of space.
8. KEEP IT TO A PAGE IF YOU CAN
The general rule in the resume world is to keep your resume to one page…if you can. As with anything, there are exceptions. If you have a lot of teaching experience, 2 pages is probably fine. If your resume is longer than a page, ask yourself these questions:
- Does the second page add value? Quality > Quantity!
- Could it be one page if I made it more clear and concise?
- Could it be one page if I restructured or redesigned it?
I’m personally a fan of 1-page resumes, just because you have one chance to impress the person who is glancing at the resume. I like the challenge of creating a well-designed “one-pager,” if you will. It forces you to be concise and precise as you analyze what’s most important about what you have to offer.
9. USE A MATCHING COVER LETTER TEMPLATE
Creating a matching cover letter template is one simple thing you can to stand out in a stack of applications. This is certainly not required, but it’s easy and it can only help, so why not take the extra few minutes to do it? All you have to do is create a cover letter header that matches your resume, which can often be done through a little copying, posting, and rearranging. Notice how the resume and cover letter below both call attention to my name. It stands out to lead to more name recognition. PS: If you’re looking for tips on how to write an impressive cover letter, stay tuned for my next blog post. 🙂
10. PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, AND PROOFREAD SOME MORE
Your resume is your first impression. The last thing you want to do is submit a resume riddled with spelling or grammar mistakes. Take the time to proofread your resume and run spell-check. Then, pass it along to a few trusted friends or family members who are well versed in grammar and spelling. You may also want to utilize a tool like Grammarly to ensure that your resume is error-free.
With these tips, you will be able to create an appealing, organized teacher resume that will help you stand out among the crowd of applicants. Your new-and-improved resume will make a strong impression in that stack of papers. Even if you don’t get the calls or interviews you want right now, principals will be more likely to remember you in the future. Good luck navigating the job search, and stay positive!
If you liked these tips, check out my various teacher resume templates that have gotten me compliments, interviews, and jobs! Each one comes complete with a teacher resume template, matching cover letter template, real examples, and a 6-page guide jam-packed with tips, word choice hacks, sentence starters, and more.
If you’re interested in reading all about how I teach resume writing (and why you should, too), then check out this blog post. If you’re looking for help on how to write a standout cover letter, then you’re in luck…that’s going to be my next blog post.
Any questions on teacher resume writing? Any other suggestions or advice from your own experiences? Let’s chat in the comments!