Make every Word Count! Tips for a Standout Resume from a School Administrator

02E60666-E98C-4FC2-9D19-12AB9200E874Zlatnik_Joseph_71Scott Peavey and Joe Zlatnik are both administrators in the Kansas City area.  Scott is currently the Assistant Principal and Activities Director at Basehor-Linwood Middle School.  Joe is the Assistant Principal at Eudora High School.

careerbuilder-ar_post-484As the calendar approaches spring (which is hard to believe as I sit here looking out my window at an ice storm) school districts throughout the state of Kansas are preparing for another round of hiring.  Many schools have already had multiple vacancies while the majority are now receiving letters of resignation, retirement notices, and board approval for brand new positions. Many area universities are holding their career fairs soon and hundreds of aspiring new teachers are preparing their materials to do what they can to stand out from the crowd.

Although cover letters are undoubtedly important, the reality is that most applications get vetoed before anyone even gets to reading the letter.  We are both administrators in the Kansas City metro area, and it is not uncommon for schools in this region to receive well over 100 applicants for most teaching vacancies; this is especially true for most social studies openings.  When school districts are looking through these applications a “sorting” process often takes place. Based off of an initial look of the submitted resumes a small number are chosen for closer examination; from there an even smaller number are selected for interviews.

The following are a few simple recommendations to help your resume truly reflect the aspects of your candidacy that you are hoping to convey; and hopefully get you to the next round of the process!

  • Structure:
    • Your resume should be one page. Early in your career you may not have much to put on your resume, but don’t be afraid of white space. We have seen weird spacing and structure in order to make a page look more full than it actually is. Don’t do this. The flip side is that if you have been teaching for a few years and have served on committees, been honored to participate in fellowships, and tasked with helping to write state assessments culling your resume to one page can be difficult. You should attempt to anyway.
      • Things NOT to include:
        • Your references; that is what the application is for.
        • Generally, your high school.  This is also located on your application, so is not necessary to include on your resume.  However, if you do choose to include it keep it concise and leave it to one line under the “Education” section of the resume.
          • There will be places on the application itself to elaborate if needed.
    • We’ve seen a lot of resumes that have work history at the top of the page and student teaching at the bottom. Don’t do this… lead with your strengths!
  • Don’t try to sell what you don’t have!
    • “Ms. Hull, while we are sure that you were exemplary in your role as Chief Blizzard Technician at Dairy Queen I’m not sure how that relates to teaching 7th grade Geography…”
    • If you do not have the experience to sell for the job that you want, don’t try and fake it. Instead, identify those essential skills that you DO possess that will make you the perfect fit for the opening.
      • You might be looking for your first teaching job, but do you have experience understanding and applying statistics?
      • During your student teaching did you utilize an approach to teaching that focused on “big picture” ideas and helped your students identify unifying themes?
      • Do you welcome a collaborative approach to teaching and is there something during your university work or student teaching that you can emphasize to back that up?
      • Do you make content and learning relevant to your students?  Do you utilize technology in a variety of innovative ways? Etc.
    • Your resume is the first impression you will have on a prospective employer, so make sure you are highlighting your strengths!
  • Details matter….a lot.
    • Proofread your resume! Check to make sure that formatting is consistent throughout the document (ex; make sure all years are bold, italicized, etc.)
    • Keep spacing consistent.
    • Be consistent in your verb tense. We see a lot of resumes that bounce back and forth between present and past tense. This comes across as careless.
    • Practice what you preach- use a peer editor!  We both met with someone to completely go over our resumes when we prepared to look into administrative positions; be open to constructive criticism and feedback to make your resume the best document it can be.
  • Elaborate on relevant experience
    • Often we see resumes for new teachers (or for experienced teachers) that simply state when and where they student taught or what years they served in various districts. This is a disservice to yourself.
      • Include sub-bullet points that lay out what you taught, what was successful, committees you participated in, etc.
    • Understand that literally everyone who is applying student taught in one or two schools- what makes you different?
      • When hiring for a teaching job we assume whoever is hired will do a great job in the classroom. That said, we are looking for added value when we go through resumes. What can do you bring to the table that will make an impact outside of your classroom?
    • If you are new to the profession also include internship experiences, substantive time in classrooms during field experiences, and any work or volunteer experience that involved you working with students.

We hope this list helps you as you prepare to enter the job market; please don’t hesitate to reach out to either of us if you have any questions!


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