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 you will need to spend some time on this.
Where to upload your CV
You can upload your CV to job sites so that, in theory, employers can contact you about job opportunities. The job sites I have tried since 2014 are the following:
I found Indeed the most successful for me and that was the only platform on which I was contacted by recruiters. I wouldn’t advise using too many job sites as I found that I was seeing the same jobs across all platforms, and it was very time consuming to trawl through all of them. Once you find a job that you like the look of, the application process will require you to either attach your CV together with a cover letter or complete an online application form. Online applications may also ask you to include your CV as an attachment.
I have anonymised my own CV for you to look at and have made it available for you to download and use as a template if you so wish. It certainly helped me get interviews for Tutor/Assessor jobs for apprenticeships. It played a part in getting interviews for a several university jobs too. I have included a link for you to download the Word file (Thinking of Leaving Teaching CV Template).
- I wrote a Personal Statement in the first person
- I included a Core Skills section (see below)
- My Employment History went back only as far as 2004
- I included Key Achievements showing measurable improvements
- In Education, I didn’t include any dates on my qualifications
- I included a digital skills section because it was relevant for me
See Further Information at the bottom of this page for links to CV templates that you can download from Working Options in Education, Indeed, Reed, The Guardian Careers and Monster. The StandOut CV link includes some useful CV examples. These will give you some ideas about alternative formats and structures used when writing your CV.
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
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. If possible, use an email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, when you are writing your CV you are selling you. Also, the third person can sound incredibly pretentious.
My Personal Statement
My current personal statement, which has been successful in getting me interviews as a Tutor/Assessor for apprenticeships and, more recently, landing me a job as a Learning Technologist is this one:
I tweaked my personal statement depending on the specific job/sector I was applying for. The other sectors I was looking at were “IT Trainer/IT Skills Coach” and “Instructional Designer/eLearning Designer/Digital Learning Designer/Learning Technologist”. For example, if a job specified “management experience” in the criteria, then I would edit “middle leadership roles” into “management roles”.
Beware of Coaching Programmes!
I made the huge mistake of paying for a coaching programme for people wanting to change careers. It was a very pressured sales pitch (“Sign up today and you can have it for this price, but the price will double in 24 hours”) and, because I was desperate to leave teaching, I parted with my money like a fool. I’m too embarrassed to say how much I spent. The following personal statement, written in the third person, is what the coach wrote for me. I honestly didn’t recognise the person being described!
“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 was told that, over the sessions, I would learn the secret to being successful in searching for the perfect job and changing my life. Half of the first session was taken up by the coach telling me about their career and how they had now found the perfect job! They didn’t give me the completed folder of resources at the start; I was given a section during each session which we worked through with a clue as to what this “magic formula” was. To cut a long story short, the answer was Networking. The more I networked, the more I would find the relevant contacts in other jobs which would increase my chances of finding another job. What a complete waste of money that was!
If you do choose to go on a coaching programme, make sure that the coaches have experience of teaching and understand the transferable skills that teachers have. A member of the Thinking of Leaving Teaching Facebook Group shared the following link with me which could help people making the same mistake that I made:
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 when you are writing your CV as this can make the ATS reject it. 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.
Your CV should not contain details of every job you have ever done; it should go back no more than 10-15 years. If you have worked in lots of different schools, then you should only include your last 5-6 employment positions in reverse chronological order.
When listing your qualifications, include both the acronym and the keyword or phrase. So, for example, write “Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)”. If you have many degrees and postgraduate qualifications, there is no need to include details of your ‘O’ levels or GCSE results. If, like me, you are a more “mature” candidate, then you can choose to list your qualifications without the dates you acquired them. This is to avoid age discrimination. Of course, you should not include your date of birth.
Don’t include any education jargon or acronyms. EYFS, KS2/KS3 and SATs will mean very little to a recruiter and an ATS algorithm will not understand it. 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.”
When you’re happy with your CV then you can start job hunting.
I need a job: where do I start? – Reed. This may be a good place to start, with some useful questions to ask yourself.
Working Options in Education – How to write a CV that stands out from the crowd. Useful information, succinct and to the point, which includes a download to their CV template.
Indeed – Resume (CV) Samples and Templates. CV examples for a variety of industries and job titles with recommended skills and common certifications. Each sample CV is based on the most contacted Indeed CVs for that specific job title. Indeed have also gathered the skills and certifications for each job title that appeared most often on CVs uploaded to Indeed.
Reed – CV Templates. Free CV templates and CV examples and samples to help you create a professional CV fast.
The Guardian Careers – Guardian Jobs CV template. This also includes a link to Guardian Jobs advice on writing your CV.
Monster – CV Template. A CV template and tips for using it.
StandOut CV – Example of a good CV. This link includes some useful CV examples.