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Resume Tips For Teachers

Author: Alisha Hipwell is a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer with over a decade of journalism experience. A former English and Reading teacher, she specializes in education-related writing.

How to Make Your Resume for a Teaching Job Stand Out

When Lupita Hinojosa, assistant superintendent in the office of school choice for the Houston Independent School District, posted an open teaching position, she received over 120 resumes.

Hinojosa said such large numbers of applicants aren’t unusual in her urban school district, the largest in the state of Texas.

“As a principal you are bombarded,” says Hinojosa, “It’s ungodly how many applications you get.”

Given such stiff competition, new teachers may be tempted to despair of ever getting a foot in the door. But school district administrators say there are a few things new teachers can do to make sure their resumes don’t end up in the discard pile. Read on for tips on how to make your resume stand out from the crowd.

woman writing a resume

Resume Writing For Teachers: Edit, Edit and Edit Some More

Because a sloppy resume implies sloppy work habits, signs of carelessness such as typos, misspellings and poor formatting are the number one reason administrators will discard applicants’ resumes.

“It’s very important to go through your resume, and make sure it’s just perfect,” says Cynthia Wilson, superintendent of Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5, a rural district in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

In addition to perfect grammar and spelling, Wilson and other administrators say that they look for action verbs and succinct phrasing.

Include Your References in the Body of Your Resume

In the interest of brevity, many candidates put “references available upon request” on their resumes. But, according to Hinojosa, that’s a mistake.

“When screening resumes, I don’t want to take the time to call you for your references. If you don’t have them listed, your resume will probably go to the bottom of the pile,” she says.

Go Longer Than One Page

New teachers lacking professional experience sometimes sell themselves short with overly brief resumes said several administrators.

“Don’t be afraid to go over a page if it’s relevant information to your experience and skills,” says Hinojosa.

What’s relevant? Anything that speaks to your ability to teach or that makes it easier for school districts to use you in flexible ways.

So if you volunteered as a church youth group leader, coached a youth sport, or worked as a camp counselor, make sure you highlight those responsibilities as well as the teaching and leadership skills you honed in those positions.

If you speak a foreign language, make sure you say so even if you’re applying for a math position. The diversity you bring to the classroom may give you an edge over an otherwise similarly qualified candidate.

Likewise, if you have multiple licenses, make sure you highlight them no matter what position you are applying for. You might not get the science job, but the district may keep your resume on file for a future opening in the math department.

“I look for things that make applicants stand out as participants in life, things that say, I’m more than just the average person,'” says Wilson.

Be Creative But Keep It Relevant

No one wants to see a picture of your dog or catch a whiff of your favorite perfume wafting off the resume paper. But administrators do want to see evidence of a creative and engaging approach to education.

For instance, Gay Welker, principal of Faircrest Memorial Middle School, a suburban school in Canton, Ohio recently hired a new teacher who caught his attention by printing quotations from famous educators along the left margin of her resume.

“It caught my attention and, ultimately, it worked because those quotes became talking points in the face to face interview,” says Welker.

Don’t Be Afraid To Try

Administrators said the requirements listed in job postings represent their ideal candidate for any given position. Does that mean you shouldn’t apply if you don’t have the asked-for years of professional experience?

“Absolutely not,” say several administrators.

“It never hurts to throw your hat in the ring,” says Welker.

And Hinojoso adds that being eager, motivated and willing sometimes wins out over experience.

Cast a Wide Net

Wilson advises new teachers with little or no professional experience to “apply a lot of places and be willing and open to going almost anywhere to get that initial experience.”

Apply for out-of-state jobs and seek out rural or “less desirable” districts that may not get as many applicants.

In Wilson’s rural school district, for example, she may only receive 10 resumes for a posted position, a situation that represents far better odds for a new teacher than he or she would find in many urban and suburban districts.

Follow these experts resume writing tips for teachers and you will increase your chances of making it through the initial round of screening all the way to a face-to-face interview.