Resume Guide for Teachers

Whether you are applying for an entry-level position or making career advancement moves, a cogent and persuasive teaching resume is the first step to obtaining an interview, since it is the first thing a hiring manager sees. In many ways, this important document stands as a reflection of who you are not only as a skilled professional capable of teaching children, but also as an ethical and trustworthy individual who can support their emotional and behavioral needs.

In addition to conveying the necessary qualifications and characteristics for the job you are applying for, a resume must stand out. While it is worth highlighting that you possess internship, training, and job experience, keep in mind that the other applicants most likely do as well, or else they would not vie for the same position. Specificity differentiates a good teaching resume from a great one. This guide provides information on how to tailor your application to your specific employer's mission and ideology through strategic usage of statistics and personal and professional experiences.

Do Your Research

Conducting research on prospective employers is an important step in preparing a teaching resume that shines because it allows you to highlight elements the employer sees as most important in a candidate. Most employers detail the skills, experiences, and certifications they seek in the job description, but you may also discern these requirements from a school's website and social media platforms. On a related note, you can also research the school's successes and challenges from external sources, such as local newspapers. As you get a sense of what the school offers, it is also important to reflect on whether this work environment supports your professional success and personal happiness.

Write Down Your Key Points

Creating an effective teaching resume may seem daunting. Set yourself up for success by jotting down the main points you want to convey in response to the job description and employer preferences. These include work experience that aligns with stated duties and certification proving your expertise in relevant areas, like elementary or special education. And though they may not directly appear on your resume, also note your shortcomings. Schools seek employees who understand their weaknesses and actively work, through continuing education and training, to overcome them.

Format Your Resume

Hiring managers spend mere seconds scanning a teaching resume before deciding whether or not to move the candidate to the next stage of the vetting process. To stand out, you need an application that is not only substantive, but also visually engaging and accessible. To do this, take your outline and transform it into complete sentences (elaborating on key points where necessary) and headers that divide the information into logical sections. While a resume should first and foremost relay your skills and experiences, do not neglect to make it appealing through careful use of formatting, font, and color.

Types of Resumes

A resume essentially represents a personal snapshot of an individual who possesses distinct characteristics that, when properly detailed, can give them a leg up on other applicants. Three main teaching resume templates exist, each with their unique formatting and specific purpose: the reverse chronological, the functional, and the combination. Educators should pick the template that best suits their skills, work history, and the position they are applying for. Since creativity is such an integral skill in this profession, teachers should not hesitate to adapt these templates to suit their needs.

Reverse Chronological
The template most people learned in grade school, this resume style emphasizes work history, with the most recent position featured first, followed by the others in reverse chronological order. Its ubiquity means that this resume type is tried and true, and especially effective for teachers who possess extensive job experience pertinent to the position they are applying for. However, it also highlights gaps in employment, frequent career changes, and applicant age.
Functional
Also known as the skill-based resume, this type enables professionals to emphasize relevant accomplishments, awards, and skills. This resume works well for substitute teachers and those who lack professional teaching experience. Potential drawbacks include lack of context, since applicants using this format tend to present their qualities seemingly in a vacuum. And by design, employers can see when the candidate does not possess much relevant experience.
Combination
Experienced educators benefit most from this teaching resume type because it allows them to synthesize work history and relevant skills creatively, doing away with the either-or function of the previous templates. The combination, or hybrid resume also allows career-changers and employment-gappers to make up for their weaknesses without obscuring them completely, which may come off as disingenuous to employers. However, with so many uses for this resume type, candidates must be careful about how they convey information or risk confusing the reader.

Required vs. Preferred Qualifications

Because of the important role teachers play in the welfare of students, job descriptions for educators usually contain extensive information, including required and preferred qualifications. The former represents mandatory and measurable skills, experience, and training. The latter reflects qualifications that benefit the position, but are not absolutely necessary. However, most job applicants guess correctly that the more preferred qualifications they hold, the better the chances they will be picked from the pool. When writing a teaching resume, address all the required and as much as of the preferred qualifications as possible without crowding the document and overwhelming the reader. Most schools also ask for a cover letter, in which teachers can elaborate on their credentials.

Without possessing the required qualifications, it might seem unreasonable to apply for a job. To an extent, this is true; some schools will not consider an applicant who cannot demonstrate perfunctory skills. However, most schools allow more flexibility because they recognize that teaching is a complex, nuanced, and difficult career. Teachers who look ideal on paper may not perform well in their classrooms, and vice versa. The decision to apply, then, is up to the individual candidate and if they feel they can impress during the interview.

What Should I Put on My Resume If I Don't Have Any Professional Teaching Experience?

The best teaching resume template a candidate can use if they do not possess enough (or any) relevant professional experience is one that highlights functions and skills, while minimizing and addressing the lack of work history. Applicants achieve these effects by placing the skills and education sections above the employment section. Because a teacher cannot legally teach without state licensure, the candidate should also emphasize these qualifications and related professional certifications.

candidates who lack professional teaching experience can use volunteer work to bolster their resume

However, the skills should be relevant and presented in contextualized situations with goals and outcomes that translate into a classroom environment. That is, if a candidate states that they possess exceptional interpersonal and communication skills, they must convey them in a way that shows the school they can apply such skills in educational settings. This can be done by referring to prior employment where they instructed and managed children, including positions as nannies, tutors, and camp counselors. Luckily for educators, teacher training requires extensive classroom-based practicum and student-teaching hours, which applicants can use to demonstrate job competency. Finally, candidates who lack professional teaching experience can use volunteer work to bolster their resume. Relevant unpaid positions not only demonstrate experience, but also let the school know that the candidate is passionate about their work and committed to supporting their communities. For additional ideas, consult teaching resume examples.

What is ATS?

Employers, from elementary schools to research universities, receive hundreds of teaching resumes due to the accessibility of online job posting and applications. To narrow down the field, many employers use an applicant tracking system (ATS). Like a hiring manager conducting a preliminary scan of qualifications, this software ranks applicants based on how many designated keywords a resume contains. An ATS reduces hours of work for the employer by streamlining the hiring process and reducing filler content, which usually indicates a candidate's lack of experience. However, the ATS also disadvantages recent college graduates, career transfers, and borderline candidates who may not meet all explicit criteria. Word/character restrictions and malfunctioning scanning operations can also lead to the exclusion of suitable teachers.

Tips for Outsmarting an ATS

  • Simple Headers Use terms like "education,""skills," and "professional experience," which are common enough to show up in most keyword searches. Also include your city, state, and, if outside the U.S., country, since employers tend to filter applicants by location.
  • Industry-Specific Jargon Remember that ATS keywords are meant to demonstrate a client's quantifiable skills and relatable experiences, so the more specific the term is to the position you are applying for, the better.
  • Clean Format Take advantage of a simple resume format that eschews graphics and unusual fonts because the ATS cannot accommodate such information, leading it to reject the application outright. Arial, Tahoma, and Verdana at 11 point or above are commonly acceptable.
  • Keywords/Phrases Perhaps most importantly, conduct research on keywords relevant to the education field and classroom teaching. Common terms include differentiated instruction, collaborative environments, growth mindset, and research-based practices.
  • Tailor Your Resume - Not all teaching positions are the same and not all schools seek the same qualifications from their applicants. By taking the time to personalize your teaching resume to specific institutional needs and educational philosophy, you help your application stand out from the rest.
  • Save Your Resume Under a Professional Name - Attaching your document as "myresume.doc" or something equally vague makes it hard for employers to distinguish and later retrieve from the pool of applicants. Save your resume using a "Firstlast_specialty_resume.doc" format.
  • Make It Easy to Read - While visual creativity is important, accessibility should be your first priority when crafting a teaching resume. Choose fonts and colors carefully and do not deviate too much. Wild formatting makes the document difficult to read and conveys a sense that you are trying to hide lack of credentials with smoke and mirrors.
  • Include a Cover Letter - Unless an employer explicitly disallows cover letters, you should write one as part of your application materials. This document not only allows you to further detail skills and experience, but also enables you to explain and make up for weaknesses.
  • Keep It to One Page - A wordy and unfocused application is off-putting. For most educators, especially those who possess less than 10 years of relevant experience, a teaching resume should be no longer than one page. This forces you to be economical and creative in how to best display information.

Common Mistakes Teachers Make on Their Resumes

  • Typos

    These errors make a big negative impression on employers because of how easy they are to fix. Candidates who do not go through the simple effort to amend their typos show a lack of professionalism and competence.
  • Including Personal Information

    Make sure to only include appropriate information, such as name, professional email, phone number, and relevant title(s). You do not need to provide your home address; city and state (or city and country if you live outside the U.S.) suffice.
  • Including Salary Information

    Unless the school places a penalty for omission, do not include salary information on your teaching resume. This may create a false impression for the employer and restrict you during the interview and subsequent negotiations.
  • Using Nicknames

    If you go by a shortened version of your full name (Bill instead of William) or use your middle name as your first, then it is acceptable to refer to that on the teaching resume. Here, consistency and common sense are key.
  • Using an Unprofessional Email Address

    This is a blatant red flag for employers. While a Gmail account formatted with "firstname.lastname" or a close approximation is marginally acceptable, it is better to use your own domain name.
  • First Person Pronouns

    Your resume page constitutes precious and limited real estate. Do not waste it by using "I" excessively. The reader knows that you speak through the narrative voice and using first person pronouns comes off as redundant, if not unprofessional.
  • Unprofessional Voicemail

    Like an email address, a voicemail also represents you as an educator, so it is crucial to record one that conveys professionalism in tone and content. Be concise (no more than 25 seconds), but include an invitation to leave a message and, more importantly, when the caller can expect you to return their call.
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