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Resume with Advanced Degrees - Re-Entry from Admin

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A reader recently submitted a question regarding re-entering the classroom after a stint as an administrator and asked for feedback on her résumé, as she was having limited success in being selected for interviews. Diana Sanchez wrote an entry for this blog in December called "The 'Over-Educated' Myth?" in which she addressed some of the questions surrounding advanced degrees for teachers. I'll give my thoughts as a career services professional on a re-entry résumé, but I would encourage school HR or hiring officials to provide their (more relevant) thoughts as well.

First, begin your résumé with a summary of the highlights of your teaching career. Resist the temptation to give every detail about your administrative experience or education. In my opinion, one would do well to separate experience in the classroom from administrative experience on the résumé. Put your teaching experience section next. If you believe you are not being selected for interviews because of your advanced education, list your degrees later in your résumé rather than right at the top.

Emphasize evidence of your teaching results, effectiveness, and abilities. "Evidence" means some measurable result that shows that what you did made a difference - it answers the "so what?" question. For example, saying in a résumé that you taught 150 students is okay, but as a hiring official, I would respond with "so what?" Your evidence has to answer that question; if your students exceeded benchmarks for state standards, say it explicitly. What new materials did you develop? How did your students demonstrate the effectiveness of your teaching?

Second, do not assume that one résumé will work for every situation. When I advise students from every discipline about tailoring materials, I often tell them to use the employer's language. If the employer says that they want someone familiar with XYZ Reading Program and you have used XYZ, be sure that you use the term "XYZ Reading Program" somewhere in your résumé (cover letter might be another option, but employer use of cover letters is a topic for another day).

Third, I cannot emphasize enough that your résumé must be well-organized, free of errors, and attractive on the page. Ask multiple persons to review your résumé and provide some feedback. Do not limit this to your best friend, your spouse, or your child. Ask a mentor, colleague, editor, or boss for candid comments and suggestions. Pick people who will be brutally honest. You will get as many opinions as persons you ask, but you will likely get something you can use from each one.

Attractiveness does not include graphics and pictures, but it does include the use of highlighting, easily-legible fonts, page breaks in logical places, and easy-on-the-eye formatting. Avoid the use of multiple type faces that give the "ransom note" look.

Résumés are about relevance, highlights, and brevity. Save the paragraphs for your book; use bulleted phrases that concisely show the highlights of your ability and effectiveness. Do not include the mundane tasks that every teacher does.

Finally, show that your knowledge of theory, trends, and technology is current. List recent trainings or courses that will help you in the classroom. Describe how you use technology to engage students.

Beyond all that, though, here is the reality, in my opinion: You will need at least a couple of people who can and will vouch for you as a teacher. It helps if they are people who are well-connected in your target districts. That kind of person can be the link to get your résumé on the desk of the hiring administrator. Some of my HR friends will counter this suggestion - all applicants must go through HR. That's true, but I have seen it happen that a principal or content area administrator asks HR about a specific person: Have they applied? Have they had a screening interview? Are they eligible to hire? What do we need to do to make them eligible? I was that candidate - with advanced education - and it worked.

Kent McAnally
Washburn University Career Services

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