The purpose of a resume is to give the reader a picture or story of your professional career. In fact the term “curriculum vitae”, an oft used synonym for “Resume” actually translates into “life story”. The Resume should give that story, but do in succinctly and in a way that is very readable. Here are some guidelines for writing your resume.
- Choose a common, non-decorative font (such as Arial or Optima) and keep the font size between 12and 14 points. Decorative fonts tend to be harder to read and do not look as “crisp” on the page.
- Leave a lot of “white space”. Too much type on a page gives it a cluttered appearance. An extra page is preferable to clutter.
- Use a Chronological Format rather that one arranged by functions. Some candidates group their service by type and the years in each, e.g. teacher 14 years, principal 4 years, etc. But superintendents, boards, or search consultants who will be reviewing your resume want to see the chronological sequence of the jobs you have held and the years of service in each position. Not to include this information raises concern that you are hiding something. If there is a break in your career path that you are afraid will hurt you, put it in down and explain it in your letter of application. (Also refer to the “Aceing the Interview” document). In short, use the chronological format, not the functional one.
The modified chronological format is often the most effective. Here’s the basic layout:
- Header (name, address, email address, phone numbers)
- Education (listing in reverse order with the highest degree listed first.
- Reverse chronological employment history emphasizing accomplishments in the last two or three jobs
- Related Experience
- Begin by putting information on how to contact you at the top of the first page, i.e. name, address, email address, work number, home number, and cell number and make sure you identify each number. If you include a coversheet, still put this information on the top of the first page of your Resume
- All other information on the Resume must be in reverse chronological order, i.e. “last is first”. A corollary to this “last is first” guideline is that the most important sections are listed ahead of the lesser important sections. For example your education and certifications are more important than your experience because if you do not have the proper credentials, you can’t get the job regardless of your experience.
- A well-written Executive Summary of accomplishments at the beginning of your resume will present your career in a positive light. Candidates who have done their homework will know the skills and competencies important to the position. The summary should demonstrate the skill level and experiences directly related to the position being sought.
- Focus on Accomplishments rather than Responsibilities. Everyone has similar responsibilities. The important thing is what you accomplished while performing those duties. Demonstrate how you made a difference at each district or position by providing specific examples of how you saved money, reduced the dropout rate, increased test scores, etc. (Refer to “Listing Accomplishments” document for more detail.
- Avoid flowery or general statements. Many candidates lose their readers in the beginning. Statements like "A challenging position enabling me to contribute to organizational goals while offering an opportunity for growth and advancement" are overused, too general and waste valuable space. You may want to consider leave out any reference to Career Objectives, and it you do include it, say something about the opportunity for new challenges. And, unless you are a gifted writer, avoid adding a Philosophy Statement to your resume. One poorly chosen word can cause a board to throw out your application.
- Keep the Resume short, but don’t be ridiculous. Many people try to squeeze their experiences onto one page, because they've heard resumes shouldn’t be longer. By doing this, job seekers may delete impressive achievements. There are also candidates who ramble on about irrelevant or redundant experiences. There is no hard and fast rule about appropriate resume length but generally a maximum of 4 or 5 pages. When writing your resume, ask yourself, "Will this statement help me land an interview?" Every word should sell you, so only include information that elicits a "yes."
- Do not use personal pronouns and articles. A resume is a form of business communication, so it should be concise and written in a telegraphic style. There should be no mention of "I" or "me”. Use “we” sparingly and use “team” a lot. This is especially true when listing your accomplishments (see #6 above).
- Don’t list irrelevant information. Its okay to include other interests, but only if they are related to the job. For example, if you are applying for a job as an administrator, don’t list the number of championships your team won when you were a coach.
Personal information, such as date of birth and height and weight are not usually on the resume. Martial status and the presence of children are not required and cannot be required or asked by the district. But if you are married, you may want to include it because most people are more comfortable if the candidate is in a stable family situation.
- Make sure you include references. In the business world applicants often do not want to include references for fear of the word leaking out that they are looking for a job. But in education, a list of references is expected. Never, never, never say “References provided on request”. Not to include references can cause your resume to be put aside and never be picked up again. And make sure you have permission from the references to include work and home or cell numbers. This makes it more likely the prospective employer or search consultant can find them when they need them.
- Don’t make typographical errors. One typo can land your resume in the garbage. Spell check, proof-read, and then show your resume to several friends to have them proofread it as well. This document is a reflection of you and should be perfect.
- And never, ever send a cover letter or other application materials on district letterhead. Some people see that as stealing.