Month: December 2015


Your resume and cover letter are your “calling cards”. You can’t get to step one, an interview, without your “paperwork” getting screened into the must see pile. If you’re a well qualified candidate and you aren’t getting interviews, or if your rate of getting interviews is low, then your resume and cover letter are probably your problem. You need to revise them.
Let’s start with the most common mistakes. Most candidates follow an out-dated set of rules. It starts with the idea that you have to limit your resume to one page, starting the resume with an objective, and that there’s a strict order as to the categories (education, certification, professional experience…). No, no, no. Other common problems are that: the bullet statements annotating your work experiences usually take the form of a job description; you have too many bullets; your most impressive accomplishments are buried in the text; the font is too small because you’re trying too much onto one page; you are bragging about accomplishments that are irrelevant to the position for which you are applying; and you may have typos, poor word selection, grammatical errors, clumsy sentence construction, too many sentences starting with “I”, and over use of objectives and words like “very”.
Assume that in today’s job market you are up against 100 other candidates who are sending in their paperwork as well. Whoever is screening that paper is a busy person with many other responsibilities. There’s a good chance that your paper will receive less than one minute of attention.
Here are just a few of my suggestions as to what you should do in constructing a strong resume and cover letter, and tailoring it to the position being sought:
1. Play to your strengths first—determine what your greatest strengths are relative to the position and put those as close to the top of your resume as you can. If you are seeking an entry-level leadership position and you don’t have any significant leadership experience, but you are a graduate of a prestigious university or you hold a doctorate, then list your education first. If you are trying to make a parallel job change, then list your work experience first. If the position calls for being in charge of student discipline, then any experience you’ve had in that regard goes to the top.
2. List accomplishments not a description of your job—everyone knows what a math teacher or a fourth grade teacher does. So, why would you list your job description on your resume? You need to identify your accomplishments. If when you started teaching an AP course and the percentage of students passing went from 30% to 80%, that’s an accomplishment. If you were a dean of discipline and you developed a data-driven process which identified “hot spots and times” of fist fights and student suspensions decreased by 30%, then that goes to the top of your bulleted list.
3. Research the school’s problems and present yourself as the solution—Napoleon once said that you can never spend too much time doing surveillance. You need to do deep research into the school, the district and the cast of characters. Find out what their problems are, and then craft your paperwork that conspicuously cast you as the kind of leader who can solve their problems.
Here are a few pieces of advice. Oftentimes, you are too close to your own paperwork to be objective. Have your paperwork reviewed by an informed and respected mentor, colleague, or coach, and get objective feedback. Your resume and cover letter are works in progress. Tweak them depending on the uniqueness of the position for which you are applying, and the results you are getting as measured by how many interviews you are getting. If you are well qualified, a good resume should get you at least 6 out of 10 interviews per application unless you are seeking positions in a highly politicized district. If you are getting less than a 60% rate, then you need to revise your resume.