CVs can somehow get forgotten. Supply teachers are so busy working and taking on assignments of different durations, that the last thing on their minds is to keep the most important of all professional documents up to date. Yet having an easy-to-read CV that highlights the breadth and depth of your school experience with a detailed skills section, will stand you in good stead when it comes to hunting down that next placement. In this article, we provide some top tips and the pitfalls to avoid when preparing your CV. And it’s always well worth the effort…
Let’s start with some of the basic fundamentals. As a rule of thumb, you want to aim for no more than two pages, so keep it short and succinct as you want the person scanning your CV to be able to do so quickly. The best advice is to keep it simple, so avoid using elaborate fonts and just stick to one of the more common ones such as Times New Roman (‘serif’), Arial, Calibri or Helvetica (‘sans serif’). You’re looking for a legible, clean and classic font. In terms of font sizes, we would recommend no less than 11pt with 12pt often the preferred choice. Bold and italics should be used sparingly, if at all.
Remember, you want to catch the eye of your new school so the format and layout must be reader-friendly. The most important part of the CV to get right is the structure. And this starts with the personal statement, which should sit just under your name and contact details at the top (home address, email, mobile number etc.). Think of this part as a way to sell your skills by neatly encapsulating your experience and the qualities you bring as a teacher and a person. We’re really looking for a few sentences here, you can go into more detail in the next section.
Now is your opportunity to elaborate on your most recent work experience. Depending on how many years you’ve been a supply teacher, you won’t be able to include everything! Your main heading would mention each school and the duration of the assignment. Then aim to provide a brief summary of your key responsibilities, using action verbs such as ‘achieved’, ‘improved’ or ‘developed’. Try to focus on areas of improvement or challenges that you had to overcome in the classroom. Where possible quantify achievements – numbers and statistics make an impression.
Really aim to drive home all the key points in this section. Look at the details you’ve included for each school assignment and make them as eye-catching as possible. Think about the evidence and metrics that the school will be looking for. Can you make any of them stronger? Have you missed anything important? Unlike in the personal statement, use bullet points to break things up. They not only help you to list key achievements, they are also visually appealing and aid flow, making it easier for the reader to skip through and make a note of your important contribution to the school.
Another key section of your CV should be dedicated to your ongoing continuing professional development (CPD). Schools will want to see evidence of what you’ve been doing to upskill, so be sure to include examples of personal or professional training. As well as qualifications and accreditations gained, perhaps in special needs teaching, include details of all relevant courses, workshops or conferences that you’ve attended. If you’ve written any articles or been on podcasts, add relevant links. Have you been involved in mentoring or conducting classroom observations?
Extra-curricular activities will also add more colour to your CV but only as long as they are relevant. While it is important to reveal a bit more about yourself and what you enjoy, keep it specific. So if, for example, you have a passion for the environment and green issues, this would obviously have a positive influence on your pupils as you would be able to transmit that passion to them. Similarly, an interest in fitness and sport, healthy living, diet and nutrition would also be worth mentioning. Don’t go overboard, just a bit about the positive influence your interests could have on students.
You should then include details of one or two referees from the last school you were at. You must have worked with them in a professional capacity, so maybe pick your line manager and another colleague. Make sure you notify them first. The final, important step is to carry out a final check. This really is time well spent as inevitably you will pick up on mistakes. But it also gives you an opportunity to improve overall quality, so wording, layout and formatting. Printing the document is preferable as you’re more likely to catch mistakes going through on paper than on screen.
How do you write a killer teacher CV? Here’s a quick recap of FIVE key points to consider:
Start with a strong personal statement
This is your opportunity to sell yourself, your qualities and skills. Make it as impactful as you can.
- Quantify your achievements and results – For each school assignment, try to include numbers that convey some of the key results gained.
- Provide evidence of ongoing CPD – Add details of relevant continuing professional development, such as courses or qualifications.
- Watch out for design – Pick a clear font (11/12pt), limit bold/italics and use bullet points. Be consistent throughout.
- Conduct a final check – Always look over your document before sending. You’ll be surprised at the number of mistakes!
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