Whether you are new to teaching, are coming back to teaching after time off, or are leaving your corporate job for a teaching position, you will need to make sure that your resume and cover letter address the following four questions your employers may have:
1. Why do you want to be a teacher?
This question is very important and you must address it in both your resume and your cover letter. Your résumé’s career objective should have a well-developed statement about your passion for teaching, while your cover letter should elaborate on your goals and your teaching style. Your career objective should be longer than that of an objective found on corporate-driven resumes; it should provide more of a summary of your passion for teaching and your qualifications. Your commitment to students and their education, no matter their level of school, has to be clearly communicated as it is one of the most critical aspects of being a teacher and it can set you apart from other applicants.
2. Do you have the qualifications necessary to be a teacher?
Your education and certifications should immediately follow your career summary statement. The section should be titled “Academic Credentials” and should list all degrees and certifications which make you a qualified teacher. Having proper credentials for the job you are applying for is critical in the teaching field. Point out any cluster of courses you have taken in school that makes you qualified to teach a specific subject. If you have been published in academic journals or have written and published textbooks, create a separate section on your resume for publications. Make sure to include a comprehensive list of all of your credentials on your resume. Don’t sell your self short.
3. What from your professional experience qualifies you to be a teacher?
Unlike corporate-focused resumes, where jobs are outlined in chronological order, teachers have to focus on not only their experience teaching (if applicable) but on any professional achievements that make them a great candidate for the job. If you have prior teaching experience, use a chronological list to showcase your work history. If you are new to teaching, you will need to list any experience you have that helps make you a great teacher. Don’t get discouraged – if you consider your experience, you will find that you have the qualifications to be a teacher, you just need to focus on those meeting your career objective. Use a functional resume format. Do some research and find examples of teaching resumes that you can model your resume after. If you are entering the teaching field with corporate experience, list any training you have developed and thought at your company, for example. If you have recently graduated, list any Teaching Assistantship positions you may have had, or any practical coursework you took part in. You can reference any volunteer work, or community involvement that supports your goal of becoming a teacher. For example, if you have volunteered your time to an organization like Big Brother big Sister, and you mentored a child, note that on your resume. Utilize any experience you may have that demonstrates your leadership, your passion for education, and your ability to motivate and pass on knowledge to others.
4. What are your long term professional goals?
Just like a corporation, the school where you are interested in teaching will want to know not only why you want to be a teacher, but what your long term professional goals are. You should make a brief mention of your long-term goals in your career summary; your cover letter or teaching philosophy should elaborate on your long term goals. Will you be returning to school for a Master’s degree or a Ph.D.? Are you interested in becoming a high school dean in the next ten years, or will you want to teach more than one subject? Are interested in teaching grade school first, and possibly teaching high school at the later time? Do you have interest in becoming a department chair at a university? If you are driven toward a long term goal, make your potential employer aware of it. But make sure that you have an action plan on how to get there – show your employer that you understand what it takes to reach that goal.
Overall, make sure that your resume is error-free, and that you have incorporated key words specific to the teaching field, such as teaching jargon and acronyms. Do your research and model your resume after samples of other teachers, with the consideration of their experience and teaching level. Demonstrate your passion, your commitment to education and your patience - and schools will be sure to take notice.