1703 North Beauregard St.
Alexandria, VA 22311-1714
Tel: 1-800-933-ASCD (2723)
8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Friday
Local to the D.C. area: 1-703-578-9600
Toll-free from U.S. and Canada: 1-800-933-ASCD (2723)
All other countries: (International Access Code) + 1-703-578-9600
Preparing your resume is a challenging and soul-searching experience. The tendency is to get a resume ready only when you truly need it, so there is added pressure for it to be perfect so that you can land the interview.
When I first graduated in advertising and PR, I proudly showed my corporate father my creative resume. He balked, saying that it wouldn't survive corporate scanners. I didn't—and still don't—want to survive a corporate scanner. I want to be recognized for my creativity and use it to my advantage, but he had a point. I needed to know my audience and my goals to know what kind of resume would survive the first cut. That came in handy when I later looked for teaching positions.
Who are you writing for? What is the job? Knowing who will see your resume is the first step in making a resume that stands out. I start with a standard format: black serif font, 10–12 point, single or space-and-a-half on crisp paper. Then I adapt for the audience. If my resume will be uploaded or e-mailed, that’s probably all I need. A business position would welcome a standard format, while a creative position would be intrigued by a resume reflecting personality.
In my first teaching position, I was still working toward my master’s degree and certification when I went to interview. I wanted to draw attention to my skills, so I created a portfolio with a plastic folder tabbed with reference letters, a fantastic lesson plan, and even photos of me with my students. I needed to prove I had experience and forethought that you couldn’t see in the black-and-white resume. I made sure that resume was hand delivered to each school I was interested in. There was no way my folio would make it through a scanner, but I didn’t want it to.
Education philosophy is great, but is it quantitative? You can list your last position, but what does it really say about your skills? Tell exactly, succinctly, and powerfully, what you have done. If you are pursuing a new or different position, think of skills that will translate well to the new job. If you are highly experienced, give figures and data to support your statements.
Somewhere Elementary School, 2002–Present
I was a 4th grade teacher on the building leadership team. My students were well prepared for local and national tests. We completed many engaging, hands-on activities to make them better learners. I wrote grants and coordinated school events. I believe all students can learn.
Listing education first is a common way to start a resume, particularly for new graduates. Unless you have no experience, listing positions and initiatives first is far more powerful. Employers are far less concerned with where you attended school and far more concerned with your ability to lead, teach, and be a contributing member of the group.
Write in the active voice. Use powerful language and don't sell yourself short. Know vocabulary and initiatives common in the position you are seeking and use them.
Think of Bloom's Taxonomy and take every opportunity to frame your work in the highest levels with active verbiage.
Waiting until you really need the resume to try and reflect on your accomplishments can be stressful. Keep one resume of everything you have ever done updated and continually add. You can make cuts and edits as needed for different situations, removing insignificant information.
Keeping everything will save you from applications requesting every employer or trying to remember the name of that one workshop that would be applicable now.
Even my dad will admit, my resume is a perfect reflection of me and my skills (even if it isn't fit for the scanner.)
Meghan Everette is a 1st grade teacher in Daphne, Ala. She is a member of the ASCD Emerging Leaders class of 2014 and was the 2013 Alabama Elementary Teacher of the Year. Everette blogs for Scholastic's Top Teaching site and is a trainer for the state DoE web portal, ALEX . Follow her on Twitter @bamameghan.
Pathfinder is a career article series brought to you by ASCD.
More Pathfinder articles | CareerBuilder's Employer Resource Center
Join ASCD to gain access to valuable professional learning materials at discounted member prices and a community of educators just like you.
Learn more about ASCD membership
Subscribe to ASCD Express, our free e-mail newsletter, to have practical, actionable strategies and information delivered to your e-mail inbox twice a month.
ASCD respects intellectual property rights and adheres to the laws governing them. Learn more about our permissions policy and submit your request online.