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How to write a resumé for a teaching career

If you’ve chosen teaching as a second career, you’ll need to pass a certification test — but that’s not all. You’ll also need to update your resumé. But how do you make your previous employment experience relevant when it has nothing to do with a classroom?

Alfonso Alva, an instructor in the University of Phoenix master’s in education programs at the Phoenix Main Campus, offers five ways to translate your old skills to your new career:


Stress diversity.

The top quality Alva seeks in teachers is a capacity to work with all kinds of people. “Diversity does not just mean different races,” says the former elementary school principal. “It means people with different learning styles, different needs, people from alternative families, as well as different cultural backgrounds.”

Look at your last resumé and rewrite it to show how you worked effectively with people of different cultures, ages and attitudes. It doesn’t matter if you were in sales, an office or another type of job. For example, Alva says, if you worked in a retail shop that served a population culturally different than yours, or worked in an office where you were the youngest staffer, describe how you successfully adapted to the situation.

Accentuate collaboration.

Another essential teaching trait is the ability to work with others, because teachers succeed based on other peoples’ responses to their instruction.

“Wherever you have worked in a business setting where you’ve had to interact collaboratively with people, whether it was participating in meetings or doing teamwork, these are skills to highlight in a teaching resumé,” Alva says.

Emphasize goal setting.

Since teachers constantly set goals for themselves and their students, Alva says, this is a key attribute to highlight.

Describe any work experience you’ve had in which you set goals with your supervisor, and then discuss whether you met those goals. Even if you worked in a fast-food restaurant, that’s relevant. “School administrators want to see that you have an understanding of what it means to meet an organization’s expectations,” Alva says.

Include keywords.

Alva suggests that your resumé include searchable keywords that help “teaching qualities” stand out to a search engine. Sprinkling your resumé with these words will showcase skills attractive to employers.

These words and phrases include collaborate, diversity, supervise, train, team leader, teach, multitasking, communication skills and create. Integrate keywords naturally, focusing on readability rather than gearing your resumé for a search engine.

Add a personal touch.

Because teachers must use many skills in their jobs, Alva likes to learn as much as possible about candidates. “If you have hobbies that may come into play while teaching, such as playing an instrument, or if you’re an avid reader, that’s nice to have on a resumé.”

In addition, he suggests that if you’re family-oriented, work that in. “One of the biggest challenges teachers have is building relationships with students and families,” he says. “So having a family-based perspective can be a sign that a person communicates effectively with families.”

Interested in furthering your education?

You get stuff done — say so

Action verbs on your resumé speak louder than a passive list of skills.