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Resume and Application Tips

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Applications, resumes and job applications are always a "Work In Progress," or should be. Gone are the days when you took your résumé to the stone mason and had it carved in stone. Two things that employers look for are individual tailoring and recent activity.

Tailor your materials: read the position description and then start digging further. I suggest finding the mission statement for the school or district and using key phrases or ideas which match your personal approach to education. Incorporate these into your cover letter and other materials.

Keep it current. Once you have posted your application on a job search site, don't just let it sit. Update it frequently. Most sites will show the date of last activity on your file and employers look at that. They want to see who is actively looking and current. Some sites actually list candidates by the date of their last activity. Make it a habit to regularly (once a week at least) check your file and update often.

Stay in the employers' "field of vision" and provide an updated résumé after a new addition - let's say you participated in a significant volunteer activity or substituted at a school in the same district as another school you are interested in. Add that to your résumé and send it in to your contacts in that school or district - "I recently updated my résumé with the following experience and wanted you to have a revised copy."

How much contact is "too much"? Educators are overly considerate - "I don't want to be a pest." My guidelines for being a pest--when you feel you can't contact that person again and that you have reached the limit--if you have one more good contact left...use it wisely!

How about Gimmicks? Unusual approaches may get you noticed, but they can also backfire. You may have seen stories about candidates wearing their resume on t-shirts or setting up a coffee stand in the parking lot. Those might get attention in a marketing environment, but rarely are viewed positively in an educational environment. A better approach is to volunteer and assist with a project at the school (organize a fundraiser or a service project).

Phil Tripp
West Chester University Career Center (retired)
West Chester, PA

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