4-Step Process for Writing an Outstanding Teaching CV

Whether applying for a teaching job, a middle management role or a senior position such as deputy principal or principal, the fundamentals of an outstanding teacher CV remain the same.

This guide will help you prepare and write your teaching CV to meet the high Australian standards.

Prepare for success

The more deeply you understand the school and role you’re applying for, the better you can show the value you’ll bring.

  1. Put yourself in the shoes of the employer and read the job description thoroughly: What are they looking for?

  2. Refer to the school’s website, including their annual reports, value statements or the makeup of the student body. What qualities and experience do they need from you to meet their targets and support their students?

  3. Be sure to research and understand the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, or, if applying for a senior administrative position, the Australian Professional Standard for Principals.

What value added and special experience can I bring to the new school? How can I highlight my experiences to match their expectations and the specific qualities and characteristics they are seeking?

Be sure to emphasise your relevant achievements and special qualities and thread these through your résumé. Continually project yourself into the role to make it impossible for the panel to visualise anyone else filling it.

Be aware of differences between states

Teachers who are applying for a job in a certain state for the first time may encounter problems with the state’s criteria or unique selection and recruitment requirements. Failing to understand the criteria may lessen the chance for an applicant to receive an interview.

Each state’s Education Department will provide information on applying for public school positions. For any school, contacting them directly is also a good opportunity to clarify the application requirements, as well as gain more insight into the school environment.

If the prospect of writing an application in a new state feels too daunting, that’s where Teachers’ Professional Résumés steps in. You may find a relevant résumé package for the state or contact us to recommend the best one for you.

Highlight your experience

Talk yourself up! This may sound like trumpet-blowing but you have to promote yourself, your achievements and most importantly, your potential. Don’t be afraid to use the “I” word! Talk about what you can bring to the school. Not many applicants bother with this. Be the one that does.

Highlight your most recent achievements and, most importantly, your potential to bring value to your new school:

If applying for a classroom teacher position, mention some programs or units of work you have written, committees you have worked on, extracurricular involvements, music and sport. Make the information relevant to your new role wherever possible. Remember, your new employer will be looking for more than a classroom teacher - they will want someone who can enrich and contribute to the school community.

If applying for higher positions, then highlight your leadership experiences – chairing committees, initiating new practices, policies and programs, training colleagues – things you have done that have made a real difference to your workplace.  Use the language of leadership.

Emphasise students and people. Never lose sight of what schools are all about. Potential employers always look for the candidate with strong interpersonal skills and commitment to students.

What is the best layout for a teacher résumé?

First, read thoroughly the job advertisement for whether they’ve requested specific sections and headings to be included. If they have, make sure you follow them!

If the advertisement doesn’t specify, you can use these headings in the following order:

1. Personal Details  

Name, address, contact details. These can be inserted at top of Page 1 as a header thus saving space for the more important material to follow.

Always ensure that your contact information and any other relevant information is up to date. If you leave out information, or if you include the wrong contact information then you are running the very real risk of missing out on a good job opportunity.

2. Executive Statement

A brief statement outlining your career goals, educational philosophy (if applying for a teaching job) and/or leadership philosophy (if applying for higher positions)

Most résumés present a very generic objective at the beginning. Rather than writing what everyone else writes, consider presenting some special qualities and attributes that stand you aside from the rest of the applicants.  For extra credit, a good objective should state what makes you suited for this specific job and projects you into the new role.

3. Qualifications and Training

Degrees, diplomas, including any relevant majors in your training and locations of any practicum/s.

List your most recent qualifications first.  If you are a new graduate, then your list should also include your final school/HSC results; no qualifications should be left out. The more you list, the better your chances are. You should also list everything about your training such as the length, what you learned, the skills that you obtained and so on.

4. Career Summary

Your teaching and work experience forms the bulk of your CV. Set it out in reverse chronological order with major emphasis on your most recent position, then reducing the detail the further back you go.

Under your most recent role, insert 4-5 major achievements, initiatives or involvements (one paragraph each, indented and dot pointed with a smaller font size than the main body). If you’re a beginning teacher, then talk in detail about some experiences you gained on your practicum/s.

Any experience that you have had, no matter what industry, should be included. Skills are skills, and the more you can demonstrate the better. However, if you’re including work experience in another industry, make sure to briefly indicate how the skills you developed are relevant and will be valuable in your new position.  Transferability of skills is crucial, and is worth emphasising!  Experience plays a huge part in successfully landing a teaching job. Many people make the mistake of thinking that their experience in other industries is irrelevant, but this is often not the case. Any work experience that you have had should go on your résumé, no matter how irrelevant it seems. There are many skills that can be useful in a teaching job, so anything that involves English skills, skills with numbers, management and organisation, and most importantly, people skills should be included in your teacher résumé.

5. Any special achievements that the panel might be interested in:

  • special awards – e.g. Dean’s Prize for Biology, Rhodes scholar

  • professional memberships – e.g. Round Square, Australian College of Educators etc

  • major achievements – e.g. represented NSW in hockey, coach of State Debating team.

  • community involvements – e.g. president of Geelong North Little Athletics Club.

6. Referees

Names, positions, contact details. Usually 2-3.

When all is done, make sure you check with referees to ensure you have their full support and give them each a copy of your cover letter and résumé. Ask someone you trust to cast a critical eye over your résumé to ensure that you have a truly high quality, dynamic document that will maximise your chances of gaining an interview.

Format and proofread

A CV should show an applicant’s professionalism and it should be written accurately. As a teaching professional, it also reflects your attention to detail and written communication skills! It should be concise, neatly formatted and absolutely free from spelling, grammatical, punctuation or other errors.  

1. Is there any irrelevant information?

Not all employers will want to know about your hobbies or personal interests. When applying for a government school position, information such as hobbies, interests, political, family and religious information is not necessary. Including this within a résumé may be required by some private or Catholic schools, however.

Reread your entire résumé twice to ensure everything will make sense to an employer on the first read, and replace anything that is ambiguous or could give the wrong impression. Consider asking another person to read your résumé to help you identify and rectify any errors.

2. Is the formatting simple and legible?

When writing your teacher résumé, you need to make sure that it is laid out in a manner that is easy to read. If your information is all over the place and in huge blocks of text then it is unlikely that your potential employers will be able to get the information that they need.  

  • Use sub-headings

  • Use bullet points

  • Use a normal font such as Calibri or Tahoma (nothing fancy).  Avoid Arial Narrow.

  • Avoid fancy “design” details or unusual spacing

The most important factor for a good résumé is to not make it more than three pages long. The employer must be able to read your résumé once and immediately gain a clear picture of your experience, qualifications and expertise.

3. Proofread, proofread, proofread!

Finally, check your CV for any spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors, or inconsistencies in font size or indentation.

You must take a break before coming back to proofread, so you can read your CV with fresh eyes. This is very important to avoid missing mistakes that you’ve already looked at 20 times!

For extra certainty, ask a capable friend to proofread for you. Others often catch errors we didn’t notice, and even better - they can let us know if we’ve included something confusing or ambiguous. Think of them as a test run for the interview panel. (Bonus points if your friend is also a teacher!)

Lesley Hays