Resume Tips

By Dawn Scheffner Jones — February 10, 2006 3 min read

Good resumes are highly individualized products. Each one reflects the unique background, talent, and style of its owner. However, there are some accepted standards—and added touches—that successful education resumes tend to share. Here’s a quick review.

Be clear. What schools want most in a resume is clarity, strong organization, and ease in locating important information. Use consistent section headings and dating styles, be concise in descriptions, and avoid repetition and vague references. (Creating a clearly organized resume will also benefit you when transferring the information to an online resume builder.)

Use formatting that’s easy on the eyes. Don’t use hard-to-read font styles (no matter how attached you are to them) or font sizes that are too small to read clearly. Give the reader a chance to breath by having some white space in the resume. If you find you have too much information to present clearly, then you have more editing to do.

Eliminate errors. Avoid misspellings and grammatical errors. This is especially important for educators. Typographical errors may seem minor, but they look careless on a resume. Have someone proofread your resume.

Be descriptive. In your job descriptions, use action words such as “created,” “directed,” “wrote,” and “taught.” They make the resume interesting to read, and they demonstrate that you are a strong writer. Avoid lame sentences like “was an elementary science teacher for two years.”

Use detail. Make your descriptions specific and concrete. Avoid unclear words like “several,” “various,” and “numerous.” Instead, provide the exact numbers and details.

Highlight your talents. Your resume should showcase your unique accomplishments. What separates you from other teachers? What have you done that is exemplary? Competition for jobs is tough: It’s not enough just to review your education and practice-teaching experiences. If possible, highlight instances where you helped raise student achievement, or created change in an organization.

Target the job. Make sure your teaching (or other education) experience is described more fully than other positions you’ve held. This is what the recruiter will be looking for. If you’ve had a previous career outside of education, emphasize accomplishments and experiences that transfer to the classroom.

Be informed. Present yourself as a dynamic, informed professional. Highlight your involvement with professional organizations and your familiarity with current practices and challenges in your field.

Get over high school. Avoid outdated or irrelevant information. Most recruiters don’t care about the fast food job you had in high school, or anything else about your high school experience, for that matter.

Don’t get too personal. Omit extraneous personal information—for example, pictures, height, weight, number of children, and other data of that sort.

Review your work. Have someone experienced review your resume—especially if you aren’t having success at first. Try the career services office at your college, or ask someone who is in education.

Check school requirements. Always check to see if the school or district has any preferences or requirements in terms of the length and format of resumes.

Go electric. Many school districts and education job sites request submission of electronic (or online) resumes. This can be an excellent opportunity to get your resume into their application systems quickly. Keep the information brief and concise, so the reader doesn’t have to do a lot of scrolling. Include plenty of key words to draw attention to your skills. Avoid fancy formatting. Choose content over style, simple over elaborate, short over long. And don’t forget to spell check (if possible), or print out a copy to proofread before hitting “submit.”

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