There is a saying that “the job isn’t finished until the paperwork is done.” There is a different spin on this when applying for a position. The job won’t begin if the paperwork is not done correctly. Your application and resume introduce you as a prospective candidate. Often attention to detail makes the difference in whether you are screened out or brought to the table in an interview process. Building and personnel administrators can tell stories of paperwork blunders that sometimes cost a potential candidate an interview and ultimately a position.
First, take care in the story you tell. Your application and resume are the written versions of your journey that prepared you for this opportunity. While it is tempting to apply the kitchen sink philosophy and include every little detail of your life, it is important that the information you share showcases your preparation, passion and potential as an educator. Think relevance and impact. Administrators will assume that grading and lesson planning were a part of your experience as a teacher candidate; you don’t have to tell us you did this. What is more impactful on a resume is successful experience running an after school tutorial group for struggling readers. Share this. It is a given that you attended faculty and department meetings. Leave out that fact. What is more impactful is your active participation on the school’s equity leadership team. Again, be selective with your details. Avoid education buzzwords but rather choose to highlight those qualities that set you apart and communicate the positive impact you can make as a member of the staff.
Invest the time to personalize rather than generalize. “To Whom It May Concern” has no place on a cover letter addressed to a potential principal. It communicates a desire to just have a job anywhere and not an interest in a particular school. Take the extra time to personalize your letter. This is where I now loop back to the previous advice and tell you to pay attention to detail. As you are personalizing your letters make sure that you take care in doing so. Make sure that you are referring to the correct school and using the correct name of the principal. I have had more than one candidate write to me expressing their excitement at the possibility of working at my school only to have them reference the wrong school name. This is a costly mistake.
Tracey Grant, Director of Human Resources
Cherry Creek School District
The opinions expressed in Career Corner are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.