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Résumé Guidelines for New Teachers

See also E-résumé guidelines and Cover letter guidelines. 

Research shows that your résumé will be quickly scanned, rather than read. Ten to twenty seconds is all the time you have to persuade a prospective employer to read beyond the top of the page. The first few lines of the résumé must catch the employer’s interest. If not, your résumé has failed.

The résumé must be concise—preferably, a one-page document. Extend it to two pages IF you have extensive work background related to the position you are seeking. 

The résumé is  

  • An advertisement, concisely marketing your skills.
  • An honest and accurate business document.

The résumé is not  

  • A life sketch.
  • A personal history.
  • A personal statement or self-expression.

Purpose of the résumé

  • To win you an interview.
  • To establish you as a professional person with high standards.

Format of the résumé

  • 3 basic résumé formats exist: chronological, functional, combined (chronological-functional).
  • For a new teacher with limited work experience, the chronological format is recommended.

Contents of the résumé

Personal data: name, address, telephone number, and e-mail are stated at the top of the page. Your name should be 3 or 4 times bigger than the other text. If you have a current and permanent address, list both.

Part one: assertions about your abilities, qualities, and achievements

  • Professional objective: a brief and to-the-point statement indicating what kind of position you are seeking. Use no fluffy phrases. Avoid using phrases such as a “challenging” teaching position (teaching is a challenging profession).

    Example: A position teaching English as a second language where a special ability to motivate and communicate effectively with students would be required. 

  • Summary of qualifications: several concise statements that focus the reader’s attention on the most important qualities, achievements and abilities you have to offer. This is your chance to attract and hold the employer’s attention, to put forward your message, and to entice the personnel officer to keep reading. Make this part strong and convincing. As a new teacher, your summary will be based more on ability than experience.

    Example: Highly motivated, creative and versatile teacher of drama and social studies. Innovative in applying the improvisational techniques of drama to the teaching of social studies. Especially skilled at building effective, productive working relationships with colleagues, students, and parents. Committed to the highest levels of professional and personal excellence. 

  • Skills and accomplishments: Basically, you repeat what you stated in the previous section, except that now you provide more detail. In the summary, you focused on your most special highlights. Now you tell the rest: results you produced, what happened as a result of your efforts, what you are especially gifted or experienced at doing. Present this information as a bulleted list.

Part two: Evidence of your work history with dates, education, affiliations.

  • Experience and professional preparation: pertinent work history in reverse chronological order. Emphasize teaching-related experience first. Include student teaching, practicum, and field experiences. Include facts such as the number of students.
  • Certification: list your certification and any endorsements, and the date.
  • Education: list education in reverse chronological order, degrees or licenses first, followed by certificates and advanced training. Set degrees apart so they stand out. Include grade point average only if over 3.0.
  • Special skills: fluency or proficiency in foreign languages, using computers to enhance instruction, etc.
  • Awards/academic honours: state what the award was for. If you have received praise/commendation from a senior source, quote the source.
  • Professional affiliations: include those that are current and relevant.
  • Civic/community activity: include if the activities are related to the position. Active participation in school or professional organizations shows a commitment to the profession.
  • Interests: include skills and areas of knowledge related to the position.
  • References: list references on a separate sheet, bring it to the interview and give it to the employer if requested.

Presentation of the résumé

  • Make the résumé visually appealing: simple structure, symmetrical, balanced, un-crowded.
  • Make it easy to read: as much white space as possible between sections, sections should be no more than six lines; use italics, bullets, boldface, etc with uniformity and consistency. Do not overdo it.
  • Condense: every word must be significant.
  • Include all basic, expected information: name, address, phone number, e-mail; list previous positions in reverse chronological order, list educational degrees in reverse chronological order.
  • Use power words liberally. (see power word list)
  • Use writing that is concise and to the point. Complete sentences are unnecessary; use brief statements beginning with action verbs for greater effect.
  • Use a standard conservative font in 10 or 11 point. Make the borders generous.
  • Use perfect grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Use spell check, read your résumé backwards and have someone proof your résumé to avoid typographical errors.
  • Include a cover letter. Use paper that matches the résumé.
  • Use a laser printer to print the résumé and cover letter on the highest quality affordable (8 1/2 x 11 inch ) bond paper. White, off-white/cream, and sometimes light grey or tan paper can be used. Do not use flashy colours. Use a matching envelope that is 9 x 12 inches. Do not fold your résumé. Ensure there are no smudges or erasures. The résumé should reach the employer in spotless condition.
  • Do not write “résumé” at the top of the document.
  • Do not use fluffy rambling “objective” statements.
  • Do not use personal and subjective evaluation. Instead of “I have excellent research skills” write “Received merit award for three major research projects.”
  • Do not use personal pronouns.
  • Do not include salary information (past or future expectations).
  • Do not include reasons for leaving jobs.
  • Do not include personal information (date of birth, height, weight, gender, marital status), pictures and personal/family problems or limitations (divorce, health conditions).
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