Most employers require you to submit a resume before they will consider you for an official job interview.
A resume concisely and convincingly summarizes your interests, strengths, and work-related experiences in an organized format.
A truly effective resume also sells you. It catches employers' attention by giving them a quick snapshot of you as a unique and interesting person with-here's the most important part-work potential that is consistent with their needs. It makes you stand out from the resume pile.
A resume is only one tool in your job search. But it can be a crucial one. It can make or break your opportunity for a job interview. Usually it takes less than a minute for a potential employer to scan your resume and decide whether or not to grant you an interview. This is particularly true if the employer doesn't know anything about you. At this point, a well-written resume is your only ally.
Now, if you've done your networking, an employer may already have an inkling of who you are. In this case, a well-written resume strengthens that image and further increases your chances for an interview.
The following chapter shows how to project your personal best into a resume that also targets the needs of a specific employer. It helps you write the right resume to get your foot in the school door of your choice.
ARE YOU READY TO WRITE A GREAT RESUME?
Take this quiz to find out if you are truly ready to write a great resume. For each question, circle "True" or "False."
- Employers want to see job responsibilities, not accomplishments, in a resume. True False
- It should take you about three hours to write a resume. True False
- You should limit your resume to one page. True False
- You should always put "References available upon request" at the bottom of your resume. True False
- You should always use complete sentences in your resume. True False
- During a job search, you may need to write several different resumes. True False
- It's alright to exaggerate your job responsibilities a bit. After all, you are trying to sell yourself. True False
- It's not a good idea to go into detail about volunteer work or community activities. True False
- False. Employers want both types of information. For each job they want to know your specific responsibilities, and then they want to know what you accomplished with those responsibilities.
- False. If you begin with the self-assessment and goal-setting exercises in Chapter 1, use that information to develop a work-strengths summary like the one in the first chapter, compare your work strengths with those of schools you investigated in Chapter 2, and then write your resume, it will take five to 15 hours. You can also expect to write several drafts before you finalize your resume. Hard work, you say? Absolutely. But a well-written resume signals employers that you are a hard and thorough worker.
The best way to go about the writing and rewriting is to do a little bit of the task every few days over a period of several weeks. Don't do it all at once. Like wine maturing in a cellar, good ideas will ripen and come to you. Tackle the project about one to five hours per week. Never do more than two hours at one sitting.
- False. You can't always summarize 20 years of work experience in one, or even two, pages. Take whatever you need to tell your story-but do it as succinctly as possible.
- False. It is not inappropriate, but it is certainly unnecessary to list "References available upon requests the end of your resume. Most potential employers assume that if they request references after your interview, you will comply.
Whatever you do, never list specific references on your resume. You don't want anyone who isn't strongly considering you to call your references and consume their valuable time.
- False. Use sentence fragments instead of complete sentences. They are faster to read, take up less space and often force you to be concise.
- True. You don't need a new resume for every new interview. But, you always need a resume that's relevant to the type of job you are pursuing. In some cases, that may require you to tailor the job-objective statement and job experiences on your standard resume to fit those of a specific job opening.
- False. Never alter a job title or inflate job responsibilities. At some point, your background may be checked or you will be asked to elaborate. Stick with emphasizing your strengths.
- False. If your volunteer work or community service demonstrates important work strengths or teaching skills, by all means, give details.
Did you miss less than two answers? Congratulations, you are among the resume literate! I still suggest you review the material in this chapter before you finalize your resume. You may pick up a few new ideas.
If you missed more than two questions, you'll find this chapter very helpful in developing an effective resume.
QUESTION: Is it resume, resume, or resume?
ANSWER; It's up to you! Webster's says all three are correct, but it gives preiV. spelling it with
.it marks, then with one mark, and then with none, if you are an English teacher, you might want to give first preference, if for no other reason than to show prospective employers you know your
On the other hand, the writers and editors of most job-search books believe the accent marks are distracting aders. Some use one accent to differentiate between the verb resume (to continue) and the noun resume (as summary sheet), but the majority use no accent marks. In this book, I've decided to follow the crowd.
WHAT'S YOUR RESUME STYLE?
There are two main types of resume styles to choose from: chronological and functional. Each style provides the same general information-personal data, job objective(s), work experience, work skills and accomplishments, and education. It just does it in a different way. Neither style is better. It depends upon your circumstances. Let's look at each style-its strengths and weaknesses, when it should and should not be used, and its basic format.
The chronological resume is used by more job seekers than the functional resume. It highlights employment experience in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent job and going back in time.
In a chronological resume, you list each job title, its corresponding company/school, the dates you held the job, and a brief description of your duties and accomplishments.
- More accepted
- Emphasizes job continuity and growth
- Easier to organize and write
- Easier to read
- Calls attention to job gaps, lateral moves, and frequent or unrelated job changes
- Rigid format
Use when your job history is straightforward and indicates growth and development.
When to Avoid
Avoid when you are a job hopper, when you have long gaps of unemployment that you wish to downplay, or when you have limited job experience.
A functional resume focuses on skills and accomplishments. It uses skills instead of job titles as headings. Under each skill heading are related job responsibilities and accomplishments.
- Emphasizes skills and accomplishments
- Downplays career gaps
- Can be very creative
- Can be more readily organized in the order you want employer to read
- More difficult to organize and write
- More difficult to read
Use when you are entering the job market for the first time, when you are re-entering the market after a gap of any length, when you have gaps of unemployment you wish to downplay, when you wish to change careers, or when you've had many unrelated jobs.
When to Avoid
Avoid when you wish to emphasize job stability or the schools or companies with which you have been affiliated.
READY, SET, WRITE!
By now you should have decided which of the two resume formats is right for you. No matter which one you have chosen, you can use the following instructions to create a master resume.
Later, as you apply for specific jobs, you may want to tailor your "master" to better show how your aspirations and experiences match the employer's expectations.
As far as design goes, I will give you general placement instructions, but I leave specific placement of information up to you. Do try to keep the design simple and easy to read. Double-space your lines and make your margins at least one inch on all sides to avoid a cramped look. When you have completed your resume, type it or print it out on white or off-white bond paper, using black ink. You know your design is successful if a reader can scan all key points within seconds.
At the very top of your resume, write your full name, followed by your home address (including zip code) and a telephone number where potential employers can contact you or leave you a message.
2 Job Objective
In five lines or less, tell what you are looking for in an education position. If you can do so without eliminating acceptable options, specify education level, type of student, type of school environment, subject areas, and school issues that interest you most.
If you need help determining a suitable objective, turn back to Chapter 1 and reread the answers you supplied in Exercise 1: Describe Your Ideal Job. Then look at the job objectives in the sample resumes at the end of this chapter.
It is not essential to provide a job objective on your resume, but it often can help. One way employers pare down a stack of resumes is to flip through the job objective sections and select ones that most closely match their needs.
3. Work Experiences/Skills
This is the heart of your resume. It is where you prove to potential employers that you are qualified to perform your job objective.
You have completed some of the preliminary thinking for this section already. You'll find it in the form of the Work-Strengths Summary you wrote (Chapter 1) and the file folders you created during your school investigations (Chapter 2). Take out these materials and refer to them as you complete the section.
If you are using a chronological format, read the instructions for the "Teaching Experience " section. If you have chosen a functional format, read the instructions for the "Skills" section.
For Teaching Experiences Section:
In reverse chronological order, list the time span and title of each teaching job you have held. Under each title, add the name and location of the school and a one-sentence description of the job. Under each description, list your major work responsibilities. Whenever possible, support these statements with related outcomes. For example:
1990-92: FIFTH GRADE LANGUAGE ARTS TEACHER Lakeside Elementary School New Orleans, LA.
Responsible for teaching reading, grammar, composition, and spelling to 75 fifth grade students who are grouped into three mixed-ability classes.
- Instituted a whole-language reading program that resulted in a 15 percent increase in fifth grade students who tested above grade level in reading
- Used word-processing software and the process-writing approach to help fifth grade students develop better skills in writing, spelling, and grammar
- Produced three all-school plays that enjoyed sell-out crowds
For Skills Section:
List three to five personal skills that relate to your job objective. Start with the skill most crucial to your job objective, follow with the next most crucial, and so on. Next to each declared skill, describe specific job responsibilities, accomplishments, and measurable outcomes that support your claim. For example:
CURRICULUM ADAPTATION: Established a peer-tutoring program and adapted textbook readings and assignments to help learning disabled (LD) students at Springfield High School in Rolla, Missouri, pass the sophomore biology requirement. The number of LD students that passed the course increased 40 percent after the initiation of this program.
For Both Sections:
Make sure that all of the statements you write in this section support your job objective. Emphasize the experiences that come the closest to the job you want. And whenever possible, use convincing examples and details.
Once you have written this section, go back and delete any redundant phrases or unnecessary words. Minimize the use of "I," and maximize the use of action words. Ensure that the writing conveys your personality and your enthusiasm for your work.
If your professional teaching experiences are limited, include the following types of experiences:
- Any work in schools. Include substitute teaching, practicum, student teaching, part-time, or full-time experiences.
- General work with young people. This can include work with agencies, camps, parent groups, community groups, and so on.
- Any experiences that reveal your maturity, responsibility, and people skills. These experiences can include parenting, jobs working with the public or volunteer work.
If you are writing a functional resume, include a brief employment history. Supply the job title, employer, and dates of employment only. Here's an example:
1989-present: Fifth Grade Teacher
Rock Creek Elementary School, Washington, D.C.
1985-89: Social Worker
City Youth Council, Washington, D.C.
For each degree you have earned, list the type of degree, the school you received it from, the year you received the degree, your major, and any teaching certification or honors that were granted to you.
(Note: You may want to designate a separate section for credentials only. These may include administrative internship credentials, multiple or specific subject certifications, and certificates of competence.
6. Personal Information, Activities, and Statements (optional)
Some job seekers end their resume with a list of additional interests or skills (such as foreign language fluency or computer literacy). Some list their memberships in professional organizations. Still others list awards they have received or community service work they have performed. All of this information is optional, but if you think any of it reveals positive personality traits or if it underscores your interest and expertise in education, by all means, use it!
You could also end with a brief summary of your deepest motivation or reason for teaching.
One special educator I know ended a resume by pointing out that all of her life she has worked with physically disadvantaged people. (She grew up with a physically disadvantaged brother, so this was certainly true.)
A recent college graduate I know ended with a long-term goal statement about the contribution he hopes to make to the field: "My master teacher described my work as 'detailed, diligent, and thoroughly organized.' I hope to build upon these qualities in my next job."
Do not include a reference section in which you list the names of persons who can speak on your behalf. They are busy people. You want to ensure that only employers who are seriously considering you will take up their valuable time. Employers who are serious about you will ask for references if they need them.
Although it is not inappropriate to track "References available upon request," at the end of your resume, there's no need to use up good space doing it. Most employers assume that if they need references from you, you will comply.
After you have completed your master resume, cover the job statement and ask someone to guess what it is by reading the remainder of the resume. If your reader is incorrect or is confused about the objective, ask why? (It's usually because you have included experiences that detract from your main purpose.)
EVALUATE AND REWRITE
You are not done yet! Now it is time to evaluate your efforts. I recommend you do this on three levels.
Level One: Self-Evaluation
First, evaluate the piece yourself. Cover up your goal and ask yourself: "What type of job does this resume suggest I am looking for? Do all my Work Experience or Skills statements support this objective? Did I provide enough examples and details to back up these statements? Did I minimize the use of jargon, acronyms, and abbreviations?"
Level Two: Evaluation by a Friend or Co-Worker
Next, go to someone who knows your work or training experience. Ask that person the same types of questions. For example: "Is my resume clear? What parts seem confusing? What parts are most convincing? Do the experiences support my goal? Did I overlook any important skills or experiences? Did I include any information that you think I should shorten or delete? Are there statements that need more explanation? Are the format and sequence of the resume clear?"
Level Three: Evaluation by Someone Who Makes
Now approach someone involved in hiring decisions (preferably in the field of education) who does not know you. This could be a personnel officer, a college-placement counselor, or even a school principal. Show the person the resume and ask him or her, "Compared to other resumes you have seen for the position of xyz, how would you say my experiences and resume format compare? Could you give me some honest feedback on the strengths and weaknesses?"
Use the feedback from these three evaluations to refine the first draft of your resume.
One Last Edit
You are still not done! Now it is time to edit your resume for brevity, clarity, consistent design, correct spelling, and correct and consistent grammar. Once you're done with that, give copies of your resume to three other persons and ask them to do the same. Then use this feedback to refine one last time.
RESUME EVALUATION CHECKLIST
Is your resume ready for the tough scrutiny of a potential employer? It is if you can check each of the following qualifications.
? All of my resume statements support my job objective.
Q The organization of my experiences is immediately obvious and meaningful. The reader can scan all key points within seconds.
Q I described all of my experiences with convincing examples or details.
? I emphasized all of my most important experiences-the experiences closest to the job I want.
? I did not repeat the same experiences in different parts of the resume. Q I have conveyed my personality and individual strengths and interests.
? My enthusiasm for what I want to do shine through.
? I deleted all unnecessary words. The word "I" does not appear too often. Action words begin sentences when possible.
? In order to avoid looking cramped, the design of my resume incorporates lots of white space. My margins are at least one inch on all sides. There is extra white space between major skill or experience areas.
? I capitalized, underlined, or typed important headings and subheadings in bold letters.
? My grammar is correct and consistently applied (for example, periods and capital letters are used the same way throughout).
Q Wherever possible, I avoided jargon, acronyms, and abbreviations.
? My resume is printed on white or off-white bond paper with black ink.
? Three other people read my resume for clarity, correct grammar, and correct spelling.