"Keep your resume to one page." This is the message we've been receiving from districts recruiting our teachers. In a market with an oversupply of applicants, administrators need to be able to sort quickly through hundreds of resumes. Wading through padding, repetition, and unnecessary information is frustrating - and a poor use of time.
In response, we at NIU's Career Services have been struggling to create good one-page resume examples for each of our teaching areas. This has been hard. Most of us were taught that educators were different from other clients. Their resumes had to describe student teaching, clinical experiences, observations, and valuable related experiences. For a long time, "more" was equated with "better." How could someone cram everything onto one page?
The reality is that teaching resumes do contain a lot of information that can be eliminated. But where do you start? How can you create a brief, yet meaningful, document to market your skills effectively? Here are a few suggestions:
• Focus on the essentials. List all your accomplishments in each of your experiences, then go back and cross out anything that's repetitious. Once you've established a skill in one position description, don't mention it in other descriptions. It's not necessary to find four ways to say that you "participated in parent conferences."
• Remove anything commonly expected of all student teachers. Readers will know that you "collaborated with your cooperating teacher to plan units and lessons." Instead, emphasize what makes you unique. Talk about the accomplishments that separate you from others, not those that are routine.
• Stress specific accomplishments and concrete outcomes. Think: "how," "what," "where," and "with what results?" Example: replace "Developed excellent classroom management techniques" with "Managed students' behavior through focusing, modeling, and assertive discipline."
• Use keywords. Not only will these draw the attention of the reader, but they will also be a real benefit if your resume is scanned. Consider: special populations; mentoring; testing/assessment; classroom management strategies; methods of scaffolding/differentiating, reaching diverse learning styles, and promoting lifelong learning; specialized curricula, methods, and programs. You can do a simple internet search to locate keyword lists. Be sure to tailor information to the district you're targeting.
• Keep bullets as brief and concise as possible. Remove empty words, such as "various" and "numerous."
• Choose only one verb for each bullet. Avoid the "planned and implemented" trap.
What about the extras? List, but don't describe, understood jobs (cashier at Bob's Grocery). Omit very old experiences and those without transferable skills. Skip the mundane hobbies. Do list honors and current professional memberships/activities (noting any office held).
When putting your resume together, create a document that looks professional:
• Use Arial, Calibri, or another crisp, clear font. A 10-point font is the smallest that is easily readable.
• Make sure that your margins are at least .5" all around (top, bottom, sides).
• Use bullets! Paragraphs bury important information and put readers to sleep.
Need help trimming your resume? Visit your Career Services office (or ask your principal) for another opinion. I've seen very effective one-page resumes - even for administrative positions at the superintendent level. It can be done. Try it...and good luck!
--Dr. Dawn S. Jones
Online Advisor, Career Services
Northern Illinois University