Saturday, 4 July 2015

The Secrets of CV Sucess

TES careers expert John Howson offers some advice on the basics that will help ensure your CV makes a good first impression
Most teaching posts are filled following an interview. Presentation is the key to success both at the interview and in the even more vital stage of persuading a school to shortlist you for interview. Too many good candidates fall at this first hurdle.
For the past year advisers at the TES have been helping candidates improve their applications and CVs with a view to ensuring they get a precious interview place. This article reflects our simple rules for making sure your application stands out from the crowd.

Choose your font carefully

The first thing to understand is that the more applicants there are, the less time you have to persuade the reader to put you on the shortlist pile. I know in this age of anti-discrimination legislation every application is viewed equally, but the larger the pile in front of reader, the less time they may devote to each. For this reason, first impressions do count. Consider font size and type; not too small or too outlandish.
A point once made to me by a recruiter was: “I am unlikely to read thoroughly anything with a font size too small or poorly laid out.”

Content, content, content

Assuming you survive the layout and presentation test, the next hurdle is the content. Recruiters are looking for applications that meet their needs. Present facts, whether in a CV or letter of application, that match your ability to do the job. The description of the post and characteristics of the person required are the best places to start. Any ‘must have’ or required’ characteristics you cannot meet will probably rule you out in the present job market unless they can be offset by some other very strong positive characteristics. For instance, must have taught mixed-age classes at KS2 might be offset by being an NQT whose placements were all at KS2 although not mixed age and can offer other requirements the school might need.

Don’t overlap

Don’t start a letter of application with information already on your CV and avoid the reasons why you came into teaching unless they are genuinely different to most other people. Enjoying working with children and young people, enjoyment of a subject and enthusiasm are things recruiters will take for granted. Try something original. ‘My last class made an elephant’ makes an interesting opening statement and can be the hook to explain how you fit into a main scale English teaching post in a multi-ethnic urban school.

Key points before chronology

You don’t need to put information in a chronological fashion, especially if key points that match the job description might be missed in such an ordered CV. Be prepared to use headings that match what the school has said. It will help focus the reader’s minds.

End on a high point

Finally spend a moment on the ending. What is the final impression you want to leave the reader with. And remember any letter of application or supporting statement should never exceed two pages for a job at this level. You are not applying for the headship of the school.
In the present job market, I cannot guarantee success but I can predict failure and a lot of wasted applications if you don’t take the process seriously. Happy job hunting.
CV Do's and Don'ts
Don't repeat information provided on an application form in a supporting statement unless really necessaryDo sell yourself
Avoid vacuous statements and clichesDo match the job description and person specification
Don't state the obviousDo be distinctive
Don't be insincereDo mean what you say
Don't be negative especially about former employersDo write about your qualities
Don't spoil a good application with a poor layoutDo show that you are a professional


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