Because of Statutory Guidance to schools in England and Wales that they should not ask for nor accept CVs from applicants for posts in schools, then you may not have an up-to-date CV. If, like me, the last time you updated your CV before thinking of leaving teaching was in the early 2000s then this is an area you will need to spend some time on.
Once you find a job that you like the look of, the application process will require you to either send your CV together with a cover letter or complete an application form.
Frequently, recruiters use “Applicant Tracking Systems” (ATS) which use software algorithms to search your CV for keywords to identify candidates with desired skills and qualifications. The ATS looks for these keywords in the candidates’ CVs and will filter those CVs which lack any of the keywords. This means that if you send out a generic CV then a recruiter may not even get to read it.
You won’t know what these keywords are. However, you can get a good idea by checking the job description, job overview and person specifications on the employer’s websites. Because of this, your CV will need to be specific to the job you’re applying for.
Some employers will look for you on LinkedIn so it’s important that any information you have on LinkedIn is consistent with what you have on your CV. I made a mistake a few years ago of not updating some information on LinkedIn and I was interrogated about why details on LinkedIn were different to those on my CV in interview!
Improving your CV
A typical CV includes the following sections:
- Contact Details
- Personal Statement
- Employment History
You should include your name, address, phone number and email address. Try to use a professional sounding email address, which should ideally include your name. A study by CareerBuilder found that 35 percent of employers rejected CVs which included an inappropriate email address.
You don’t have to have a personal statement, but I would advise putting time into creating one. A study by UK’s youth programme, National Citizen Service, revealed that recruiters spent an average of 8.8 seconds looking at a CV and so a well-written personal statement could give them a reason to read on.
This short paragraph should summarise who you are, what valuable skills and experience you have that are relevant to the job role, and what you can offer the company. You do not need the title “Personal Statement”. There are no definitive rules about whether the personal statement should be written in the first or third person. After doing some research on this, I felt that the majority opinion was that you should use the first person. After all the CV is all about you and selling yourself. Also, the third person can sound incredibly pretentious, as the following example illustrates:
“Influential and creative Manager with a sustained record of success in the public sector marketplace. Has substantial background in service organisations whilst at the same time managing cultural change across these concerns. An inspirational leader and outstanding team member, who through a participative approach will create robust strategies to translate vision into achievement. Strong analytical, problem-solving and decision-making skills have been demonstrated across many areas. Excellent communication and networking abilities have been used extensively to benefit his organisation and industry. Now seeking a creative role within a progressive organisation.”
I made the huge mistake of asking a so-called ‘professional CV-writer’ to write that personal statement for me and honestly didn’t recognise the person being described! My most recent personal statement, which has been successful in getting me interviews, and subsequently jobs, as a Tutor/Assessor for apprenticeships, is this one:
I had 3 different CVs, each with a slightly different personal statement suitable for a specific sector. The other sectors I was looking at were “IT Trainer/IT Skills Coach” and “Instructional Designer/eLearning Designer/Digital Learning Designer”.
I was advised to put “over 10 years experience in education” instead of the actual number of years (which was 18 years when I started updating my CV) to avoid age discrimination. For the same reason, you are advised not to include your date of birth on your CV.
Core Skills Section
Although I didn’t include this in the “typical CV sections” list at the top, a core skills section as bullet points is useful because it allows recruiters to see your skills at a glance, and is a useful area to put keywords. I included a core skills section in my CV, after the personal statement.
Employment, Education and Achievements
Be careful about using too much formatting as this can make the ATS reject your CV. Avoid putting Employment and Education in tables as these can make it difficult for the ATS algorithms to read. If they can’t read your CV then they will reject it.
When listing your qualifications, include both the acronym and the keyword or phrase. So, for example, write “Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)”.
Avoid clichés if you are listing your achievements. Infamous phrases that have been overused are “results-focussed” and “results-oriented”. If you have played a part in improving results then simply state the measurable improvement that resulted from your efforts.
An Interests section can give an employer/recruiter more insight into your personality. However, generic interests will turn recruiters off. They will only be interested if the interests are relevant to the role applied for. Leave the Interests section out if you need to cut down your CV to fit to two sides of A4, or if they don’t add to the job you’re applying for.
Many employers/recruiters won’t check references at the application stage, so it is okay to put “References available on request.”
This Example of a good CV link includes some useful examples.