Your résumé essentially introduces you on paper. It is a concise and logically organized statement that summarizes you, the candidate, for a potential employer. It is your chance to present why you would be the perfect person for a given position. Remember, the goal of your résumé and all the paperwork that districts require is to earn you an interview. This one- or two-page document that concisely sums up professional accomplishments should be both attractive and professional in appearance, prompting an employer to take a second look at your qualifications. Principals and superintendents review many résumés, spending 30 seconds at most reviewing each one, so it is important to make yours stand out from the rest, as deserving an interview. Therefore, it should be eye-catching, brief, and to the point so that prospective employers can quickly find what they want.
Submit both electronic and hard copies of your résumé. This insures that your résumé will actually be received by the person who does the hiring. It also gives that person a second look at your qualifications.
Electronic résumés are convenient and efficient, but don’t have the same impact as personally delivering the information. If it’s feasible, hand-deliver your cover letter and résumé. There are several reasons for doing this. It will help you gain familiarity with office personnel, as well as give you an opportunity to possibly meet some of the people who may later interview you. The visit will help the people you meet connect a face to the information and demonstrate your willingness to go the extra mile. It just may make the difference in getting an interview and landing the job.
Your résumé basically outlines information about you – your career objectives, education, prior experience, specific skills and expertise. As it should have a professional appearance, use high quality 20-25 lb. bond paper in a neutral color (ivory, bone, gray, granite), an easily readable font style, such as Times Roman or Arial (10 – 12 pts.) and dark ink. To make it attention grabbing, use an attractive layout with ample margins. Try to leave some white space by not crowding too much information into the résumé. Use bolding, underlining, or italicizing to highlight those words or phrases you want to stand out. But, don’t overdo it. The copies should be crisply printed. Remember, neatness counts!
Your résumé should be an objective description, rather than a subjective evaluation, of accomplishments. It should list your accomplishments by grouping them into sections with entries in each segment arranged in reverse chronological order (the most recent events first). Use phrases that begin with action verbs (instead of complete sentences). For example, start entries with words like taught, designed, managed, organized, planned, adapted, chaired, developed, prepared, implemented, supervised, etc. Carefully proofread your résumé to make certain it is free of grammatical errors and misspelled words. Ask friends and colleagues to critically review the document to insure perfect grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
All data should be “chunked” into distinct sections. As there is no “right way” to do this, you must look at your entries and decide what the best format to present your accomplishments is. Use category titles that suit your list of qualifications. Basically, your résumé should contain information grouped into these categories:
- Heading – The identifying data appear at the top of your résumé. List your name, address, and contact information, including your email address and web site for your electronic résumé, if you have one.
- Objective – Clearly state a purpose for writing the résumé that conveys your personal goal (e.g. to obtain a special education teaching position in grades K – 6). Indicate the specific job title or description in which you are interested. The objective should be relatively broad, but specific enough to describe the type of position you are seeking. You may also include your desire to supervise specific extracurricular activities.
- Specific Skills – List the particular characteristics that qualify you for this position, highlighting unique qualities and relevant job skills (e.g. fluency in a foreign language, computer skills, etc.) that make you best suited for the desired position(s).
- Education – List in reverse chronological order the dates of attendance, graduation dates, schools attended, degrees, certifications, majors, awards, honors, etc.
- Professional Experience – List and describe skills, responsibilities and accomplishments. Include student teaching experience, field experiences, substitute teaching and any practica or internships. The experience can be full- or part-time, paid or volunteer. Don’t forget to include other experience in working in your job setting, for example, summer camp instructor or counselor positions, tutoring, Scout troop leader, and informal teaching situations such as working in recreation and after-school programs. As a prospective professional, all these experiences are pertinent.
- Other Work Experience – If you are just starting your career, it’s permissible to include other work experience in your résumé. This will give an indication of your work ethic and past employment. Your experiences may prove that you’ve developed leadership, organizational, or communication skills, plus show how you constructively spent your time and/or earned money for college.
- Additional Information – Include college and community activities that support your commitment to education, membership in professional organizations, and attendance in seminars, workshops, and conferences.
- Concluding Statements – Make final statements, such as “References available upon request” and “Portfolio available for review” at bottom of your résumé.
Final Thoughts on Composing a Résumé
Although one of your goals is to emphasize those qualities that make you most suited for the desired position, don’t misrepresent yourself. Be honest in describing your accomplishments.
Don’t list your references directly on your résumé, but rather include a statement indicating that they are available. Make sure that you have contacted each person that you plan to use for his or her permission. When you contact them, you may also give them relevant information on your most recent accomplishments.
Do not include personal information about your marital status, age, family, health, weight, height, and religious or ethnic background. This kind of information is irrelevant to your qualifications as a professional and should not appear on your résumé. There are also federal and state guidelines prohibiting employers from asking you questions related to these items.
If you have an answering machine picking up calls while you are searching for a position, make sure the message is business-like.