Even though you rarely get to show your CV to a school, a well-crafted CV is your starting point for your school applications and personal statement, as well being your teaching experience record. From this, you will normally derive the content of all school job applications. For more senior roles in a school, you may be offered the chance to show your CV, so you have the additional challenge of presenting it well too. So get it right, and you’re halfway there. Anyone who has sat on a governing body selection panel will know that the standard of CVs varies tremendously. There’s clearly work to be done!
There’s no mystery about what makes a great CV, but there are equally no hard and fast rules about what one should look like. However, these tips should help:
Keep it simple
Avoid templates, ornate fonts, brightly coloured paper and fancy layouts. Simple is best.
Fonts of choice
Research seems to suggests that for the printed page, serif fonts such as Times New Roman, Georgia and Garamond are best. For reading online, go for sans serif fonts such as Arial, Calibri and Helvetica.
Keep it focused
Your CV needs to be utterly relevant for the job you are going for so don’t pack it with irrelevant information.
Concise is best
Any information you include needs to be concise. If further detail is required, you will be asked more at interview. Two-three pages is a good length to aim for but that may not be realistic if you have a lot of teaching experience.
First things first
Start with your name and contact details including address, telephone numbers, email and any public social media details that you are happy for an employer to see (for example, many teachers have twitter accounts for professional purposes in the public domain).
Organise it logically
After your personal contact details, you need to focus on the following:
- Your qualifications – it is commonly accepted to start with the most recent. Include the name of the awarding institution (and the teaching institution if different); the name of the award; your start and end dates; and key study areas and any specialisms.
- A career summary – this needs to detail your relevant work experience to date including where you have worked, the duration you worked there, your job role and key responsibilities, and, briefly, the experience gained in each setting. Focus on the key skills you have acquired to date. Make sure these link to the person specification for the job as closely as possible. This section needs to be concise and informative. Be sure you can provide evidence of any points you make if asked. Use bullet points rather than lengthy paragraphs.
- Continuing professional and personal development – include a summary of the continuing professional and personal development you have undertaken to date. Again, focus on skills and knowledge gained. If you are a newly qualified teacher, include any development undertaken during your training (for example any online courses you did or training you attended while on placement).
- Interests beyond work – this is the hobbies section, but it’s useful to focus just on those that might have some relevance to your job, for example, instruments you play, sport, travel, dance, drama and so on.
- Referees – include the contact details of two possible referees, at least one from your current place or work. It is also acceptable to say “Referees available on request” especially if your current employer does not yet know about your intention to job hunt.
Watch your language
Use positive, unambiguous language. Action words can help: “I managed… achieved… led… transformed… enhanced… rejuvenated… inspired… motivated… overhauled…” and so on. Avoid superlatives and buzzwords that were specific to previous posts.
Proof read x2
You will have worked on your CV for hours and may not even see any minor errors and typos lurking there. Let a trusted friend or colleague look at it for critical feedback.
Stick to this basic guidance for a great CV and the application process is likely to be far easier. Good luck!
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for eTeach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.