Creating a Professional Resume — thoughts to consider

At the end of their teacher training, each educator new to the profession is faced with applying for jobs which also means creating a professional resume.  When I first started teaching, I had the opportunity to revamp my professional resume with the help of a superintendent of the board for which I was working at the time.  Thanks to his input, I made some major changes.

At FEUT, we had been told that we should indicate our career goals and, at the time, the goal was just to get a job – any job for which we were qualified or for which we would get qualified.  I know I have never been comfortable with this kind of statement and have always preferred to make this clear in the covering letter which has accompanied every application I’ve made for any teaching position.  And we were told that we might want to include a list of hobbies or interests as these would give a potential employer a sense of how well rounded we were.  I always wondered what saying that I liked gardening said about me as a person?  The suggestion that we include a list of our accomplishments and outside involvements made sense as these really did give a fuller sense of who we each were not only as educators but as involved and engaged members of community.

At least once each year, even now, I update my resume.  As I do this, and as I have been in the profession longer and fulfilled many different roles, and been involved in more initiatives within my school and my board and my local and provincial teaching federation, I really do the ARRP thing – add, remove, rearrange.  While the content has changed, the order of information has not changed much.  I like the layout and design of my resume.  It suits me.  And I know that the focus has been on what I’ve done and what I’ve created.

Recently, I posted my resume on an educational website.  I received an email offering me the opportunity to have my resume critiqued.  No harm no foul I thought, so … sure.  I was surprised by the feedback which I received.

Overall, my resume was given “a ‘score’ of 63%.”  I always was a good student and rarely got marks this low and my immediate reaction was, huh?  Why a mark anyway? And then there were the comments:

“Your resume needs to demonstrate that you can be a major contributor and add to the bottom line.” Funny, but I thought that my resume did show that I had made and continue to make a major contribution not only to my students and my school but also to my profession.

“Your resume seems to be missing a career summary, which is important at this stage in your career. [I’m retired.] When reviewing candidates with more than five years of experience, most employers expect to see career summaries at the top of resumes. More than an objective statement, a career summary provides a concise but comprehensive view of who you are as a professional, your years of experience in the field, and examples of skills or attributes you have that relate to the organizations you are targeting. “ I have this – it’s called ‘Employment History’ and ‘Certification’.

“Unfortunately, your existing resume gives the impression that you are a “doer” and not an “achiever.” Too many of your job descriptions are task-based and not results-based – telling what you did, rather than illustrating what you achieved. Employers and recruiters are looking for results-oriented resumes that help them envision how you could be an asset to their organizations. Your resume needs to show how you’ve made a difference or exceeded expectations, preferably with quantifiable information or data.” I really am at odds with this comment. What’s wrong with being a ‘doer’? What does being an ‘achiever’ mean? This critique rubs against my personal and professional philosophy of education. I suppose that I could tout the improvement in my school’s OSSLT results. And while I helped provide students with opportunities to strengthen their literacy skills, the overall increase in the pass percentage was their doing and not mine. After all, I didn’t write the test, they did. I guess it comes down to deciding what’s important – improving the numbers or helping kids to learn and grow into their own potential. I know what my choice is.

“The structure of your resume is lacking in organization and consistency, which will hurt your chances of getting contacted for an interview. Hiring managers spend literally seconds on a resume before deciding whether to explore it further or move on to the next. You want to make it easy for them to quickly scan and digest the content within each section. A strong professional format will keep an employer’s attention..” As far as I’m concerned, I do have a strong professional format which was created with the help of one of the ‘hiring managers’ of the board for which I worked.

“It looks like your resume could use more bullets in certain sections. Three to six bullets is the ideal number for your most recent jobs, while one to three will suffice to summarize earlier positions. Each one should be brief and descriptive, to convey information quickly and effectively. “  And here I’ve been wondering if I have too many bullets in my resume.

“We encourage you to move your educational background towards the bottom of your resume and possibly organize it more effectively. [Wha?] While it’s great that you have included the details from your education history, employers will focus more on your relevant work experience when evaluating your resume. “ My professional work history and certification are listed ahead of my education.  I might move it a little further back in my resume. So this one I can consider.

“There is no need to say References Available Upon Request or anything similar. While this was customary in past years, it is no longer necessary and can be a distraction. When you go for the interview, many companies will ask you to provide your references so be prepared with a list of contacts. “ Shows me how much attention they paid to my resume since I don’t have this type of statement and do provide a list of contacts. I know from past experience, that my references have been contacted before I’ve been contacted to come to an interview.

“Based on your industry and your level of experience, the length of your resume appears to be right in line with your competition ( your resume is about 609 words).” Nice to know.  Here I thought it might be too wordy.

“You should consider removing, or emphasize less, any work experience from over 25 years ago. Employers are more interested in your most recent, relevant experience. “ AND “Be sure to list your work experience in reverse chronological order, with your most recent experience first. List the geographical location next to the employer name. Try to qualify and quantify your past accomplishments whenever possible to give them greater impact. More space should be devoted to recent experience, since your experiences presumably become more relevant and valuable as you progress in your career. “  I do this anyway and if I add anything more to my recent experiences, then my resume will be too long [according to them]!

“In your resume, you incorporated personal pronouns. This is something that you should consider changing. Personal pronouns (I, me, my, etc.) should be avoided as they are not necessary and may be a bit awkward. In fact, many recruiters and hiring managers consider it incorrect and unprofessional. “ AND  “We noticed that you are not completely consistent in your resume with your verb tense. It is very important to pay close attention to your use of past and present tense. Mixing the two is confusing and can make you appear unprofessional. It also shows a lack of attention to detail which will be a red flag for employers considering you for an open position. “ Huh? I know that I do not use personal pronouns.  I know that I am scrupulous about parallel structure and consistency and other grammar issues. Leaves me wondering who read my resume?  Did they really read it?

“Good job, the email address that you are using appears to be suitable for your job search. Your email address should be professional so that it does not raise any flags with hiring managers. “ Well hurray for me!

And then came the recommendation, couched in terms of care and concern that I may be hiding my light under a bushel.  Without some overall improvements, my resume will probably be overlooked.  And, with the help of a professional resume writer, everything will be better.  And it will only cost me a fixed sum.  And here I thought I was getting commentary because someone else was interested in helping me and not making a buck.

I guess the whole thing comes down to this: a teacher’s resume does not look like the resume provided to a potential employer at the local mall.  The advice I was given so long ago still makes sense to me: after your personal contact information, list your teaching history [both voluntary and paid], follow this with the certification which is listed on your teacher’s record card.  That information should be on the first page of your resume since that’s what any principal or hiring committee will want to know about you first.  Where you put your education; your professional, extra-curricular, and community involvement; additional certificates; references and the like is a choice you must make.

And, once you generate your resume, give it to someone in the profession whom you respect and ask for their input.  Remember – your resume is a reflection of who you are as an educator so take the time and care to ensure that it is just that.



About Authentic Vibrations

My life is about learning and personal growth. I was an educator in the public secondary system for over 33 years. I now work with women, individually and in small groups, using words and music, art and language to help them explore their individaul sense of self in ways with are authentically meaningful for each of them. I also facilitate discussions with educators at all stages of their involvement in the teaching profession to help each of us explore the meaning, value and potential of learning and teaching. It is my belief that, in working individually and in collective, we have the power to transform and evolve. In the power of the collectives which we create together is the power to create culture. As a musician, I believe that the arts have the power to change lives. Certification: CODE Model™ Coach WEL-Systems® Institute Affiliate Education: Ed. D (c) (Applied Psychology – Focus on Teaching) University of Toronto M. Ed (Curriculum Development and Design) Queen’s University (1992) B. Ed (Music, English, Elementary Education) University of Toronto (1976) Mus. Bac. (Music Education) University of Toronto (1975) RCM Grade 4 Harmony, Grade 4 History, Grade 9 Voice, Grade 10 Piano Awards: Life Membership, Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation (2009)
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