With a wealth of experience in and out of the classroom, an impressive amount of professional development and additional training, and impressive career achievements, why is it that some lecturers are still unable to craft an effective CV? Whether it be layout, structure, vocabulary or simply checking for basic spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes, there are a thousand ways to ruin an outstanding CV. Below are just some of the tips and hints you should remember when creating your perfect CV:
Keep it simple
When designing and structuring your CV, it is important to make sure that it is as easy to access as possible. This means no enormous variations in font size (Times New Roman size 10-12 is fine) or elaborate designs (a plain white background is just fine). Also, you do not have to include everything you have ever done in every place you have ever been: add your name at the top with contact details, then a personal statement and details on your career (with achievements). After this, add information on your education and potentially some hobbies with references last. Remember to keep your CV to no longer than two pages – anything more than that and it is likely you are including unnecessary information and employers.
Vocabulary for the role
With more and more large educational employers (from Multi-Academy Trusts to supply agencies to colleges) using software to filter CVs and applications, it is important to use key words/ vocabulary when completing your CV. Using dynamic verbs (eg accomplished, achieved, advanced) and adjectives (innovative, hard-working, resourceful) can mean the difference between being filtered for consideration by senior leaders and your CV not being viewed at all. As you formulate this vocabulary, it is important to scan the documentation which came with the advertisement, as this can give clues to the type of vocabulary the employer is looking for.
Though it can be tempting to copy and paste the personal statement you wrote for a previous role (the one that took you 4 hours to write and you were extremely proud of), this is not advisable. Firstly, this CV/application is being submitted for a different role in a different setting and it is unlikely that your previous personal statement hits every criterion for this role (again, check the person/job specification). This is not to say that you need to start again, but you do need to edit what you have previously created. A good tip here is to write your personal statement with a copy of the person/job specification printed out and next to your computer – give concrete examples as to how you meet each criterion as you go. How have you proved you can do it? What action did you complete? What impact did it have?
This is your opportunity not only to highlight the extensive training you have had since joining the profession, but to also showcase the continual professional development you have attended in the previous academic years. Whether this be working as an examiner, internal or external courses, workshops/conferences, completion of qualifications (e.g. management/leadership qualifications or a M.Ed), this is an opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants who may not have your background. Starting with your most recent study (i.e. Masters of PGCE) and ending with your initial steps in education (usually GCSE and A Level study), this can also be a great opportunity to highlight your digital literacy and shine a spotlight on training you may have had on specific software which is relevant to the role.
An opportunity here to show your personality and prove that you are not a teaching robot sent from the future to help students make progress. Having said that, make sure that the skills you are showcasing are relevant to the role (employers do not want to know that you can eat 12 doughnuts in under a minute). Any sports, musical interests, books or cultural pursuits are always good and anything out of the ordinary (a keen singer? Play an instrument? Speak a foreign language?) should be mentioned here. It should be noted that it is imperative to be honest in this section – it is no use gaining a role based on your French fluency and then attending a Parisian residential unable to parlay in the local language.
An obvious one this, but something which has caught out many an educator. Make sure you read your CV from cover to cover, and not for what you wanted to write or what you meant, but what you actually committed to the page. If you can get someone else (or several people) to read it, all the better. Check for spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors, typos and the full range of mistakes which can be made.
About the author
Jonny Kay is Head of English and maths at Tyne Coast College. He has previously worked as an English teacher and Head of Department in KS3/4 and tweets @jonnykayteacher. He also regularly blogs at www.thereflectiveteacher.co.uk.