Author: laronstein

Applying for an Assistant Principal Job: What Does the Principal Really Need?

Oftentimes, the entry-level job into school leadership is the assistant principalship. There are more assistant principal jobs than any other leadership roles. In the selection process, the principal is usually the key person in deciding who will get the job. The fact is that the assistant will be the principal’s right arm. What does the principal really need?

In my experience, despite what the job description says, principals need an assistant who can do six things. They are: (1) STUDENT DISCIPLINE; (2) OBSERVATIONS AND EVALUATIONS; (3) LARGE GROUP SUPERVISION (bus duty, cafeteria duty, corridors); (4) PARENT COMPLAINTS; (5) TEACHER SUPERVISION; (6) SCHEDULING. These responsibilities may not be very glamorous, but they are essential in assuring that the school is well organized, safe and orderly.

Of the six responsibilities, STUDENT DISCIPLINE by far is the highest priority. Realistically, the assistant principal’s school day is dominated by dealing with time consuming disciplinary cases, mostly small but sometimes more serious. Therefore, the principal is looking for an assistant principal who exercises good judgement, is thorough, is effective with kids, and knows how to speak with parents in a tactful and respectful manner.

The ability to command respect by just being a presence is vital; some call it “gravitas”. That is the ability to project self-confidence, influence, credibility, and command respect. When you speak, others listen. In order to be an effective supervisor in large group settings, and in dealing with staff or parents, it is a requirement to project gravitas.

You should assume that the reviewer of your resume and your interviewers, and particularly the principal, will be looking for evidence that you have some experience, knowledge and skills in fulfilling most of these six responsibilities. Be aware that these “top six” needs do not include such wants as professional development, curriculum development, personnel or budget management among others, even though these functions might be included in the job description. The principal is going to choose a candidate based on what he/she needs and not what’s wanted.

Your resume should prominently include evidence of performing these six functions, and you should prepare answers to interviewers’ questions pertaining to these areas. Expect “what would you do” scenarios that are aimed at assessing your judgement and practical knowledge of how these various processes work. A few sample questions might be:

  1. Walk us through step-by-step how you would deal with a fight in the corridor?
  2. Role playing the assistant principal who receives a phone call from an irate parent complaining that his child is being treated unfairly by a teacher.
  3. How would you deal with a veteran teacher who is not addressing recommendations you made on his/her observation report?
  4. How would you go about doing a formal teacher observation?

The key to be a successful candidate is preparation. Focus your preparation on the real priorities of the person to whom you’ll be assisting.


Should you consider taking a leave replacement position? Like most other complex questions, the answer is, “It depends”. It depends on your set of circumstances. It depends on the conditions related to the leave.

What are your circumstances?

  • Are you trying to start a new career as a teacher? If you have been unsuccessfully seeking a position in teaching, then a leave replacement makes sense. A leave replacement is a far better alternative than substitute teaching or being a teaching assistant. You will be fulfilling all the responsibilities and getting all the experience of a teacher, and the pay is better. You will also have an opportunity to impress supervisors on a daily basis.
  • Are you currently dissatisfied with your teaching job and have not been successful in your new job search? Or are you currently teaching and unsuccessfully seeking a leadership job? Be cautious. Resigning a secure position in order to take a leave replacement job is a risky move. Getting your first leadership job can be a career breakthrough. Leaving a job in which you are unhappy, can seem attractive.
  • Are you currently unemployed, working outside of education, in the process of being laid off, being denied tenure, or ready to quit your present job? If you find yourself in any of these circumstances, then you have a lot more to gain.

What are the conditions of the leave replacement position?

  • Are you an internal candidate for the position and will you be able to return to your present position if and when the incumbent returns or things don’t work out for you? As an internal person who can return to your job, there is little downside and lots of pluses. You will gain experience and acquire new skills, and positively position yourself should the incumbent not return, or a new position opens up.
  • Are you an external candidate and is the incumbent expected to return and, if so, when? Most leave replacements are due to maternity or sick leaves. Most of these folks return to their jobs. You need to find out the reason for and the duration of the leave before accepting the job. If the job does become open, you will have had an opportunity to prove yourself and forge relationships. You will be in a very strong position to get the job.
  • Is the incumbent ambivalent about returning? In most cases incumbents do not announce their intention to return until the contractual deadline. This uncertainty leaves the replacement in a difficult situation. You will need to decide if and when to initiate a new job search. This can be quite nerve racking.

What are the consequences, positive and negative, of taking a leave replacement position? The most dire consequence is winding up on the unemployment line. Needless to say, it is extremely difficult to revitalize a career with a gap in your employment record. Any gap or step backward on your resume will be viewed as red flag and invite interviewers to closely question you about the circumstances of your employment timeline. On the positive side, if things work out, you can propel your career ahead. Taking a leave replacement position needs to be carefully considered before making a decision


Some experts say that ninety percent of what we communicate is expressed through body language. Body language is a two-way street between the candidate and the interviewers as well as among the interviewers. An effective candidate must be aware of, and try to control his or her own body language. You should also try to observe, interpret, and respond to the body language of the interviewers.

I learned the importance of my body language the hard way. I was interviewed by a small group of search firm consultants. They seemed friendly and nodded their approval to my responses throughout the interview. I recall feeling relaxed and confident, sitting back in my seat, crossing my legs (which are a little long), and balancing my knee on the edge of the table. I left with a sense of self-assurance that I had aced the interview and would be called back. That didn’t happen.

 I reported my rejection to my mentor with a sense of defeat and reviewed the highlights of the interview. My mentor could not diagnose any deficiencies. However, he did know the search consultants and promised to get their feedback the next time he saw them. Several months passed by.

“Guess who I just saw? You’re not going to believe the feedback,” he reported. “They loved your answers. But one of them said that you were too relaxed. She said you sat back and put your knee on the table. You appeared cocky.”

About a year passed. There I was again interviewing with the same group of search consultants for a new position. Needless to say, I leaned forward this time. No sitting back for me, this time. They moved me on in the process, and I landed the job!

Just your posture and manner in which you walk into the room has significance. Stride with an air of confidence and smile at your audience. Your posture should reflect self-assurance, not arrogance. Your smile should reflect that you’re pleased to be there. Your first impression means everything. You must get off to a good start. Most people begin forming an impression of you within the first thirty seconds

My advice concerning body language over the course of your interview is to lean forward in your seat. Slowly scan the faces and eyes of the interviewers as you speak. If they like what you are saying, they will tend to nod and smile subtly.  Nod back even more subtly. Focus a bit more on the people who are not sending off non-verbal feedback. Watch to see if they exchange knowing looks to one another. Often, you might say something that resonates with an issue they may have previously considered. A glance, a smile, a wink, a frown, a nod, a negative shake of the head between interviewers means you may have confirmed or disagreed with something of interest to them. A negative shake of the head probably means that you have stepped on a potentially explosive issue. Quickly backtrack and clarify your statement, if you can, to neutralize the potential damage.

Your ability to mimic other people’s gestures and postures also indicates you are in sync with them. If someone leans forward, lean towards him or her. If someone smiles and nods, then smile and nod back. Practice mimicking at meetings and social gatherings. You’ll find it really works.

Larry Aronstein provides one-on-one coaching in preparing candidates for interviews and in resume preparation. Visit his website at


“I get so nervous when I interview that I freeze.” For most of us, interviewing is an unfamiliar, somewhat intimidating, and uncomfortable experience. It is natural that interviewees feel nervous. There’s a lot at stake. You have invested a great deal of time, effort and money in trying to take the next step in your career. You’re walking into a room all alone to meet a group of strangers who are going to ask you difficult questions and make judgments whether they like you, if you’re a good fit, and as to your qualifications and readiness. Feelings of rejection are a real possibility. So, what do you do to calm your nerves and become more effective?

You should take some comfort in knowing that the interviewers who are seated across the table have also been on your side of the table and understand your nervousness. They are quite forgiving of a shaky voice and a little perspiration. But how do you avoid freezing? My formula for shedding your nervousness is:

(1) be familiar with each step of the interview process so that there are no unnerving surprises;

(2) be prepared by anticipating many of the questions and practicing your answers;

(3) learn how to read and respond to the interviewers’ body language and non-verb clues;

(4) find comfort in knowing that your knowledge and skillfulness are well-developed;

(5) stay out of “your own head” (how am I doing; are they liking me) by just focusing on answering the question;

(6) direct your response to the individual who asked the question (avoid looking at the large group);

(7) plant seeds in your answers that will lead the interviewers to ask a follow up question for which you will be well prepared, thus gaining some control over the direction of the course of the interview.

Perhaps an analogous situation might serve to illustrate my approach. I must confess that sometimes I get anxious when I travel. I imagine that the taxi is going to drop me at the wrong terminal; the flight will be over-booked and I’ll get bumped; the plane will leave late and I’ll miss my connecting flight; upon arrival I’ll be told that my hotel reservation was for last week and they are now all booked up. However, I’m happy to report that over time I have figured out ways to alleviate most of my anxieties. I take a page from my own formula. I familiarize myself in advance with my ticket which identifies the terminal; I try to book non-stop direct flights; I re-confirm my hotel reservation; and if unanticipated problems arise, I have copies of all the documentation and contact phone numbers in my possession—you get the idea.

A good coach will walk you through the interview process step-by-step. You will learn what forms of body language to look for and how you should respond verbally and non-verbally. You will analyze and practice answering the most often asked questions. You will role play and have a dress rehearsal. You will report back to your coach as to your actual performance and get feedback on how you might improve. You will find comfort and self-confidence in the knowledge that you are well prepared, and as a result your nervousness will be minimized.

Dr. Aronstein coaches aspiring leaders and school leaders in preparing for interviews and in the preparation of resumes. Learn more by visiting


Are you sending out your resume but only getting few interviews? Are you getting interviews but are not being called back? What should you do to get your fair share of interviews? What are the factors that determine your success?

Factors to Consider:

  1. Attractiveness of the District—stereotypically, highly attractive districts or schools are usually affluent, high paying, and high achieving. They are highly selective in choosing candidates. Unless you are well-qualified, that is looking for a parallel position, a graduate from a prestigious university, hold a doctorate, and/or have significant accomplishments, your chances of getting an interview are slim. That is not to say that you should not apply, but your expectations should be realistic.
  2. Quality of Your Resume—if you’re a qualified candidate but are getting less than a 25 to 30 percent positive return (initial interview per resume submitted), then you probably have a resume problem. Your resume’s job is to tell your story in a compelling manner and get you an interview. You might have your resume evaluated and edited by a highly credible and reputable coach. Educational resumes are somewhat unique; so be wary of having a well-meaning friend from the business-world review it.
  3. Effectiveness of Your Screening Interview—typically an average of about 15 screening interviews are scheduled for a leadership position. Sometimes they only last 10 to 15 minutes. Obviously, there are a limited number of questions that can be asked and answered. The interviewers are trying to get a sense of who you are by evaluating your narrative (your story), how you present yourself, your likeability, and how you would fit into their school-community. About 6 of the candidates will move on to the next round. If you get a screening interview and habitually do not move to the next step, then you need to evaluate your narrative and how you present yourself. You probably should be coached rather than trying to adjust on a trial and error basis.
  4. Quality of Your Answers—the next step is The Committee Interview composed of around 7 stakeholders (parents, teachers, administrators), which will run about 30 minutes. There is ample time for them to ask about 10 questions encompassing many aspects of educational practices. The Committee will likely narrow the field down to about 3 finalists. The candidate needs to perform a precarious balancing act. She/he must satisfy the vested and oftentimes competing interests of parents who are demanding greater sensitivity to their child’s needs and accountability, administrators who are seeking higher academic achievement, and teacher unions who are looking for teacher-friendly leaders. At the same time, the candidate must maintain a positive, thoughtful, sensitive, knowledgeable and diplomatic demeaner. This demands extensive preparation which includes becoming familiar with the strengths, needs, nature and values of the school-community. A successful candidate must do his/her homework and be ready to present him/herself appropriately.
  5. Flexibility—the final interview, usually 2 or 3 finalists, involves a 30 to 45-minute session with Central Office Administrators. Again, there is a shift in strategy for this interview. These leaders are trying to determine who is the best equipped to fulfill their agenda, solve existing problems, and represent the proper image that will satisfy the community and particularly the Board of Education. I often use the metaphor of a tennis match. Up until this interview, the candidate’s job is to “return serve” to each questioner. However, this match requires the candidate to be flexible in switching the “game” by creating a “volley”—a back and forth, give and take conversation. This calls for asking clarification as to the district’s issues and priorities, offering your related experiences, and as a result building a professional rapport.

These are the major factors you should be aware of and act upon if you are going to get your fair share of interviews and successfully move forward in the process

A Blueprint for Answering Interview Questions

It is your final interview. Three Central Office Administrators are questioning you. “Do you have questions for us?” the Superintendent asks.

“Yes, what do you see as some of the greatest curricular challenges that the district has that I, if I’m lucky enough to get this job, would be expected to address?”

The Superintendent nods at the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. She responds to your question. “As you know, we have three elementary schools. Each of the schools has four or five classes at each grade level. What we have found is that, with several exceptions, each of the teachers do ‘their own thing’; meaning that they teach different content and skills at their own pace, using their personal preferences as to the instructional materials of their choice. There is little in the way of articulation within the grade levels and really none from grade level to grade level. Most of our teachers are pretty experienced and seem satisfied with the way things are. By the time the kids get to middle school, their content knowledge and skills are all over the place.”

The candidate silently reflects for a short moment, and responds, “What I’m hearing you say is that there is a need for greater curricular continuity and articulation. I encountered a somewhat similar situation in my experience. What I learned from these experiences was that the attempt to fix the problem could in some cases make things worse, but that there are approaches that work. This problem has obviously existed for quite a while. What I anticipate is that there are no easy quick fixes. It requires a well-planned and coordinated comprehensive approach” that includes teacher collaboration.

The interviewers lean in and encourage the candidate to elaborate on how the problem was solved. The candidate briefly provides an overview of the context, the key steps and an analysis as to the advantages and disadvantages of alternative strategies. The interviewee then sums up his/her “lessons learned” from the case he/she described.

What is the “blueprint” for being a successful interviewee?

1. Find out what the interviewers perceive as their needs.

2. Paraphrase that need to demonstrate your understanding of it and to get further clarification.

3. Concisely describe the context of a similar problem (i.e., situation, need) that you encountered.

4. Briefly tell your story of what was done and what your role was.

5. Outline the alternative strategies that were considered and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy.

6. Identify the key lessons learned (the guiding principles) that are the basis of how you solve problems and make decisions.

As an interviewee, effectively and spontaneously applying this blueprint is not easily done. However, being aware that there is an actual blueprint and preparing yourself by practicing how you would use it, could be most impressive and seal the job for you.

How to Stand Out from Other Applicants

Are you finding that you have re-written your resume and cover letter multiple times over the last year and you applied for every leadership job for which you’re qualified within 40 miles…but still very few interviews? Do the interviews you do get never go beyond a screening? What’s wrong? Is it your resume? Do only internal candidates get interviews? Is nepotism at work? Is it that you aren’t well qualified? As a candidate, your goal is to stand out from the rest of the field and be seen as more qualified and desirable. You need to present yourself as a solid professional with valuable knowledge and experience to offer in your role as a leader. How do you distinguish yourself?

When you apply for a supervisory job such as an assistant principal, principal, or a department chairperson, you need to demonstrate the following four criteria: (1) significant professional accomplishments; (2) a unique or well-developed skill set and/or knowledge base in line with the qualifications for the position; (3) evidence of leadership potential; and (4) evidence of being highly motivated.

Significant Professional Accomplishments

In your present position, be on the lookout for unique and interesting opportunities. Examples of such opportunities might be piloting a new curriculum, serving on a high profile committee, making a presentation to the Board of Education, field-testing new technologies, participating in a research study, publishing a manuscript in a recognized professional periodical, working in a summer internship or national institute, presenting a paper at a regional or state conference, being recognized and/or honored by a professional educational organization, writing a report, or helping to develop and write a plan to improve school safety or student achievement.

Unique or Well-Developed Skills and Knowledge

The goal is not to have lots of bullets on your resume. The goal is to develop valuable skills and knowledge and present them in the best light on your resume and during your interview. Your prospective principal could always use help in scheduling—master schedule, testing schedules, schedules of professional development activities, and schedules of school-community events. So, take workshops to learn how to use proven technologies and practices in scheduling.

Another key function is student discipline. To learn how experienced professionals handle discipline, volunteer to shadow an administrator. Find an administrator who will allow you to be an unofficial “dean,” and who will supervise you, assign you to routine disciplinary cases, and permit you to assist in supervising lunchrooms and bus duties. 


You should consider filling semi-administrative roles such as serving as an administrator in summer school, night school, or alternative school; you will learn supervisory skills and be noticed by your school leaders. Another way to stand out as a leader is by serving on committees. Volunteer to play leadership roles on committees in order to have an impact and get noticed. Volunteer to serve as a committee chairperson, write portions of plans and reports, and present at school board and faculty meetings.

Motivation and Agility

Being an inside candidate is the best and fastest path to becoming a school leader. Do what you can within your school and district to be visible, cooperative, and useful. Voluntarily moving to another grade level and/or school demonstrates your flexibility and cooperation and increases your scope of experience. You will also be seen as a team player.

Another avenue for demonstrating your motivation is to take charge of school and community events such as assembly programs, field trips, community service projects, PTA programs, and professional development programs.

Finally, do not be a spectator who stands on the sidelines and expects to be noticed. Be an active presence, make yourself useful, learn all you can, and enhance your skills and knowledge. Get into the game!

Projecting Your Gravitas: A Key to Winning the Job

I’ve coached hundreds of school leaders and teachers about the importance of presenting oneself in a confident manner during an interview. This is called “gravitas”; that is ability to project self-confidence, influence, credibility, and command respect. When you speak, do others listen? Do not confuse gravitas with arrogance. People who project gravitas should also be thoughtful; they think before they speak and enhance the conversation by adding. Be mindful that the court jester never becomes the king or the queen.

In seeking a position as a school leader or a teacher, you must convince your potential supervisors that you are the kind of person who brings a certain bearing to the position. The teacher represents the adult leader in the classroom. In the context of a job interview, here are several methods to project your gravitas:

1. Be present, listen, and speak once you’ve formulated a response

People with gravitas are attentive to the core of the interviewers’ questions, the underlying issues and agendas. So, during an interview, take a moment to formulate a thoughtful and relevant response, and draw upon your self-assurance that your response will have value. This can be done quietly without trying to show off that you’re the smartest person that they will interview. Be respectful of the people around the table who may be more accomplished and experienced than you. But be confident that your thoughts have value too.

2. Demonstrate deep understanding

Your challenge is to put forth relevant information and ideas that demonstrate deep understanding. Someone who is self-confident and secure treats everyone with respect, even some panelists who might challenge your answers and might not treat you with respect. Never appear combative or show irritation.

Remember the lyrics to the old song, “You’re got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em …”. Be mindful about timing what to say, when to say it, and what not to say. Try to make your ideas concise, on point, and clear. Don’t repeat yourself. Only when necessary, ask questions to clarify what is being asked, but keep answers on topic, and avoid providing a long context and introductions to your answers. Do not view questions as “gotcha” opportunities. Your goal should be to try to guide the process in productive directions.

3. Communicate like an adult

As an employer, I want to hire professionals—adults. People with gravitas speak like adults. Too many young people saturate their sentences with word fillers and phrases such as “like”, “you know”, “at the end of the day”, “to be honest,” and “in reference to”. You know what I mean! Also, avoid ending your sentences with an upward inflection to your voice as if you’re asking a question rather than making a statement. You want to be taken seriously. Therefore, you cannot just dress and look like a professional, you must also sound like a professional.

4. Do not confuse confidence with arrogance

There is a thin line separating arrogance and gravitas. Arrogance means that you’re perceived as coming across as overbearing, conceited, a know it all, someone who has a lot to say but really offers little in the way of substance. Most of us are repelled by arrogance in others. To me, the opposite of arrogance is modesty. Oftentimes, less is more. We admire wisdom. I once asked an extremely successful businessperson about his newest venture. He described his new business in one sentence. I commented, “You did that in one sentence.” He smiled politely and responded, “If you can’t explain something in one sentence, then you don’t understand what you’re talking about”. That’s gravitas.

5. Monitor yourself

How are my responses being received? Is my audience hearing me? Are they resonating with my ideas?  Are they nodding and smiling? Exercising your gravitas is not a trick—it’s a matter of being effective. When gravitas is lacking, people notice, and when it’s there, it’s magic.

When you walk away from the table, you want your audience to say, “That candidate really held our attention and was most impressive.

Dr. Aronstein is a career coach who works one-on-one with leaders and aspiring leaders in developing their resume and preparing for job interviews. Learn more:

Does the Order in Which You Interview Matter?

“Congratulations! You have been selected to be interviewed for the assistant principal position at the Happy Hollow Public Schools. This is Dr. Buggerband’s secretary. I’d like to schedule an appointment.”

 Of course, you are thrilled. Barely able to breathe, you reply, “Yes, I’d be delighted!”

The secretary says in an almost mechanical voice, “How about next Wednesday at 4:30 at the Middle School. I can email a confirmation that will include directions”. You immediately accept the appointment.

You think, “I’ve got to tell my spouse.” She/he is elated as well, but then asks, “How many people are being interviewed? With whom will you interview? How long will it last? Do you have to bring anything with you? Are you going first; are you last?” Feeling a little deflated, you answer, “I don’t know.”

Does the order in which you interview really matter? My answer is, yes. Admittedly, I don’t have any research to back up my theory. But I do have more than forty years’ experience of interviewing, being interviewed, and coaching candidates. Call it empirical data. My theory depends on how many people are being interviewed.

  • In a large field of candidates, anything more than six, you want to go last or get towards the rear of the line.
  • In a small field of candidates, between three and five, you want to go first or get towards the front of the line.
  • If they’re down to two or three, then the order is irrelevant.

What’s the logic? If you met 18 people for 10 to 20 minutes each, over a 3-hour period, who would you remember best? The screening committee is made up of real people. Despite their best efforts, they become fatigued and bored. So many candidates appear to be mediocre… unmemorable. The panelists are dying to see good candidates. Here comes number 17. Finally, there’s a really great candidate. At the end of the process, the panelists look back at the list of names, and cannot even remember most of the faces. However, they do remember the most recent ones who they just met.

Let’s jump to the Central Office interview. They’re seeing four semi-finalists. They can readily remember all four. The first candidate does a great job. This candidate’s performance becomes the “high water mark”; the front runner. The rest of the field has the challenge of measuring up. By the time they get to candidate 4, the good performance of number 1 often becomes legendary, exaggerated in their minds.

If my theory makes sense to you, then how will you know how many are in the field, how long the interviews will last, and who’s going to do the interviewing. And more importantly, how are you going to get that last spot or the first spot?

Dr. Buggerband’s secretary routinely sets up hundreds of interviews for a wide range of positions. In this case, her boss gives her a stack of 18 resumes and tasks her to set up interviews every fifteen minutes. That’s seven interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday, and four on Thursday.

This is how you can get the appointment and the information you want:

Secretary (S): “Hello. I’m calling from the Happy Hollow Public Schools. I’d like to schedule a screening interview for the assistant principal position for which you applied. How about next Wednesday at 3:30 at the Middle School?”

Candidate (C): “Wonderful. Gee, that’s a little tight. What other times are available?”

S: “Okay, I have Tuesday at 4:15 and 5:30, Wednesday at 3:45 and 5:30, and a couple of spots on Thursday.

So, what can we derive from this? It looks like three days of interviewing. It appears that each interview will be 15 minutes. I guess the last interview runs from 5:30 to 5:45 and gets the committee out before dinner time. And Thursday is the last day.

C: “What’s the latest time you have available on Thursday?

S: “I have 5:00 on Thursday.”

C: “Great, I’ll take it. Can you tell me with whom I’ll be meeting?”

S: “There are five people on the committee.  There will be some teachers and parents and the middle school principal.”

C: “Thanks so much. I’m really excited. Is there anything I need to bring with me?”

You have one of the last spots. The interviews run fifteen minutes. You know the size and composition of the screening committee. That’s how it’s done! And now you can answer all of your spouse’s questions.


For a moment, imagine that your resume is the living room of your home. As your guests enter the room, you want them to immediately focus on those special artifacts that are the centerpieces of your room. The placement of the furniture must be mindfully placed so that they are noticeable and maximize their impact. You want to remove the chachkas, those knickknacks and gaudy items that Aunt Sarah gave you as an engagement gift, that clutter the surfaces, and are distractions. The appearance of the room is a clear and powerful representation of your persona. The design of the room embodies what you are most proud of; how you define yourself. You want it to be inviting; to draw your guests into your home.

Likewise, your resume represents who you are. It should draw in prospective employers. Continuing the metaphor, sometimes an interior designer is employed to maximize the result you desire. It’s okay to have an educational career coach help you feng shui your resume.

Here are tips that you should find helpful while you feng shui your resume so that it provides the right impact:

1. Less Is More—do not overwhelm the reader with superfluous verbiage

2. Focus on Accomplishments; Not a Job Description

3. Lead with Your Strengths (list first—catch attention)

4. Ignore Most Rules (omit objective; determine your own sequence of categories and timeline; keep format simple)

5. Start Bullet Statements with Action Verb (past tense)

6. Emphasize Accomplishments that Match Job Posting (strengths)

7. Wherever possible, quantify your accomplishments and the magnitude of your duties

8. Omit Irrelevant Jobs, Activities and/or Accomplishments unrelated to the position

9. Interests & Activities Can Capture Attention– acting, fitness enthusiast, interesting hobbies (visits to Presidents’ birth sites), cultural travel experiences, speak foreign languages

10. Feng Shui Your Resume—the order and placement of the content counts

11. Adapt Resume for Different Positions (elementary, middle or high school; affluent or blue-collar community; urban, urban-suburban, small town, rural)

12. Set Maximum Number of Bullets—current position no more than 10 bullets; prior positions 7-8 bullets

13. Sweat the Mechanics– spelling, subject-verb agreement, capitalization and punctuation; grammar; word selection; consistent format; readable font size

14. Use a Format that is Logical and Enhances Clarity

15. Cover Letter– 3-4 paragraphs always required but seldom read

16. References upon Request

17. Get Constructive Feedback from school leaders who review resume

18. Never Confuse or Mislead the Reader– clear timeline; short and simple sentences

19. Never Lie


Dr. Larry Aronstein is a career coach who assists educational leaders, aspiring leaders, and teachers in preparing their resumes and prepping for interviews. Visit to find out about Dr. Aronstein’s services and ebooks. Contact at National and International clients are encouraged to seek assistance.