If you are reading this, I think it is safe to assume you are, or soon will be, applying to a graduate program in preparation for a teaching degree. Congratulations! Few careers exist that are as rewarding as teaching.
Applying to graduate school can be an intimidating process, especially when it comes to crafting your application resume. The ever-present warnings are always in the back of your head. Recent studies have shown that your resume has less than 10 seconds to make an impression (good or bad) on the reader. Yes, it is true that a resume needs to be designed for high-impact skimming, but you don’t need to tie yourself up in knots over its creation. As long as you follow the steps below, you’ll be sure to have a winning resume when you’re through.
A resume can be broken into thirds. The top third is made up of your heading, your branding statement and your core competencies.
The heading is made up of your name and contact information. Make sure your name is the largest sized font, preferably size 24. In terms of contact info, list your full address and only one phone number. Choose either your cell or a landline, but do not include both. Additionally, be sure to have a professional sounding email. “YourName@SomeEmailService.com” works best.
The Branding Statement:
This section will only be a sentence or two, but it can be difficult to write. You need to summarize who you are and what you can do in just a few phrases. Include the subject and grade level that you are interested in as well as a particular research interest to try to set yourself apart from the other applicants. For instance, if you were a secondary English teacher you might say, “Certified professional secondary English teacher offering versatile instructional skills. Enthusiastic educator with a passionate interest in and commitment to differentiated instruction for all students.”
On a traditional job-seeking resume, this is where you would list all of the skills and abilities that you would bring to the job. The idea would be to focus on your target school district’s vision and governing philosophy and match your strengths with what they deem important. For a graduate school application resume, you need to tweak this concept a bit. Instead of including job skills, you want to focus on specialties or areas of interest within your academic discipline. For instance, if you are a prospective English teacher, you may want to list British literature, formalism or feminist criticism.
The middle third of your resume is where you list your education and license information.
List your degree, where you went to undergraduate school and your year of graduation. Don’t go overboard, but do list any unique courses you took in your major. In regards to your license, just list the license number. If you are still working toward your license, then simply leave this section out.
The last third will be a detailed look at your work history. This section will look different depending on when in your career you are applying to graduate school. If you have just finished your undergraduate degree, then your work history will largely be about your student teaching experience. If you are going back to school after securing a teaching position, then you’ll write about your current job experience.
First, give a general statement about what you teach and include the grade level, class size and major concepts taught. Then, move on to specifics such as the types of educational technology used, the formative and summative assessments applied and how you have differentiated instruction for students on individual education plans, and then detail any collaborative experiences you have had with other teachers or parents.
Once the teaching experience section is complete and if you only have student teaching experience to discuss, you should list other work experience you have had while in school. Less is more here. Just list the positions you have had in order to show that you have a track record of employment. If you follow the above advice, plan before you write and proofread once you have finished, you will have a solid resume for application to graduate school.
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Steve P. Brady is a teacher and educational career consultant specializing in resumes for teachers.