What I need to get from your CV and statement/letter of application
Now I’ll explain what makes me want to meet the person behind an application and bring it to life. In short, to get you into the interview hot seat. I have already touched on many of the things I am looking for, but in terms of practical advice, here’s what I think…
I think of a CV as a toolbox. When I read a CV I want to know if the person who wrote it has the tools they will need to do the job I need doing, and do it well.
How long should it be?
There’s heaps of advice out there about getting your CV down to 2 pages, but unless you are explicitly asked to do this then don’t! It is much better to have 3 or even 4 pages that are in a readable font size, clear and flow well than to produce 2 pages written in impossible-to-read, tiny font with virtually no margins which only gives the reader a headache. When there are 30 more to read, believe me, no one will take the time to struggle over yours. It is sadly headed for the reject pile!
I actually advise you to have two CVs; one two page summary containing a short personal statement and your key employment and educational details. The second CV can be longer and include a lot more of the information you want to share about yourself professionally. The first makes you really focus in on what is important to you, and decide on what key things you want to get across. I suggest you write the long one first, then summarise clinically, to get a 2-page version. You can then be sure that your key message is focussed but remains detailed
Check your dates!
Check your dates are concurrent, correct and that there are no gaps. Gaps make me nervous and wonder if you are trying to hide something, and they also tell me you pay little attention to detail – and detail in teaching is important! Please don’t put 2013-2013! What does it mean? I read that and think you must be someone who either can’t remember or doesn’t want to tell me why you couldn’t last one academic year in one role! If it is teaching practice, then say so and give me exact dates; January 2013 to June 2013, PGCE Placement. Now that tells me everything I need to know.
Give a context to your school
Being a Deputy Head of Primary in a five form entry, multicultural inner-city school is a very different role from a class-based, DHT in a one form entry rural primary school. Both demanding and difficult jobs for sure, but giving a very short summary of your school adds real context to your experience, and it is even more helpful if you hyperlink your school’s website to this description.
E.g. Discovery Bay International School is an inclusive, 4 form entry, international, community school in Hong Kong. The curriculum is based on British characteristics and gives our 1,100 students a broad and holistic international education.
What are your key achievements?
Writing about the main responsibilities in your role is OK, but you are describing your job description to me which actually tells me what you are supposed to do, rather than what you actually do. Tell me instead, about what you have done well and what your key achievements are in each role. If you add that, then I instantly get a picture of what you have achieved, and that helps me clearly visualise what you may go on to achieve in my school.
After a short paragraph summarising your role, I suggest that you pick one or two of your key achievements and briefly outline these with specific evidence of impact as appropriate.
E.g. I introduced a Peer Supporters Programme, training Year 5 students to support a restorative justice approach to resolving incidents in the playground which led to a decrease in logged behaviour incidents during playtimes of just under 47% over the previous year.
(This works if you have space, but if it is a 2-page summary CV then don’t crowd it out!)
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