Let’s be clear about something from the start. As recruitment specialists in the education sector, one thing we are 100% certain about is that you need a good CV. Actually, as I write this, I realise that it is even more true in the post-COVID-19 world we now live in. Your CV is more than just a list of skills and a job history, it is an introduction to you as a person as well as a professional. In the new environment of video interviews and online connections, anything that gives you that little edge can be the small difference that results in you taking the next step on your career path. The most important question to ask yourself is, how will your CV really stand out from others applying for similar jobs?
Make sure your CV is in tip-top condition
This article is a sort of mix and match of common mistakes and little tips that will help your CV stand out from the rest. We thought it would help if we passed on some of the helpful pieces of advice (and a few ‘back to basics’ reminders) that would either put your mind at rest that you have a great CV already or help you ensure that your CV is in tip-top condition.
The main things that School Leaders and we get put off with CVs are not having your career history updated, poor punctuation and grammar, or either too little or too much information. An ideal CV should be no less than two pages and no more than three pages long.
Research and tweak your CV to fit the school. Try not to fall into the trap of seeing a CV as a generic tool. If you treat it like something you just dust off when you need it, you are losing a lot of its potential. Take the time to research the school, look up the Head Teacher, check the Ofsted report thoroughly, and so on. Then revisit your CV and see if you could perhaps rewrite it to highlight the areas you think will be of interest to the Senior Leadership Team.
Ask someone to check it for you. Believe it or not, we see an amazing number of CVs with very big mistakes in them. Any errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar will jump off the page for the reader, and that is doubly true in education environments. Mistakes do creep in, there may even be the odd one in this article, but little errors here and there are not the issue. Avoiding any mistakes is ideal, but unfortunately, it tends to be the big mistakes that slip past us. We always suggest getting a second or even a third read if possible.
Structure is still really important. We love CVs that have the following structure:
Contact details – name, phone number and email address would suffice
Profile – summarising you as a person, what your main career highlights are and your future aspirations
Previous employment in chronological order (most recent first)
Within each job you have had, always write bullet points of your responsibilities and achievements within that role. It is no good just putting your job title and letting the employer assume what your responsibilities were. You must be clear in showing what you achieved in that role. This is one of the most important tips I can give you.
Include any unusual and useful experience or skills in your profile. This can be a real advantage in some roles. For example, you may want to mention any non-education experience for practical subjects in the context of how they will help you teach.
Think like the reader, not you. Imagine a Headteacher was looking at your CV. What do you think they would like to see? One of the most difficult things about writing your CV is writing it for someone else to read. Finding the balance between boasting and being too reserved is difficult. However, nothing will make your CV stand out as much as producing one that not only lists your skills and experience but really brings them to life.
Examples and contexts are very important. Education is an ever-changing landscape at the moment, so SLTs are looking for problem solvers that can deal with the coming changes. When you review your CV, check that you have contextualised your skills and experience. Show problem solving rather than just listing skills. Demonstrate achievements rather than stating them.
Be ‘you’ where appropriate. A CV should be about the details, but there are a few areas, such as your profile or statement, where you can show who you are. Take this opportunity to stand out. Headteachers like people who are personable and have great communicational skills.
Small things really do make a big difference when it comes to CVs, and these few hints are just the tip of the iceberg. There will be unknowns in the employment process that you cannot control, so making sure your CV is up to scratch means that you are controlling one aspect you certainly can. Having a great CV is still the first step towards the next round of selection, so demonstrating that you are the right person from the first contact is vital.
As always, we are here to help you achieve your career goals within teaching, so do call us if we can help.