Tips to Help Teachers Write the Perfect CV

Your CV is a window into your professional life and in many cases it is the first impression that a potential employer has of you.
Having an optimized professional CV is the difference between landing that dream position at a prestigious institution, and staying in the same dead end job.
This is probably one of the most difficult tasks that many teachers struggle with. In this article I will share 5 things to consider when you draft your CV.


If you cannot say it in less than one page then it’s not worth saying. Before writing your CV put yourself in the shoes of the principal that will read it. Remember that the principal receives many CVs and that they also keep CVs from previous years on file. Your CV is going to be a part of that stack.
If you want to ensure that your CV is going to grab attention, it has to be unique. That’s much easier said than done.  A principal can easily decide within 30 seconds whether your CV is worth reading or not. This gives you a very limited window to impress the principal.
If your CV is the size of a dictionary you are already putting yourself to a disadvantage, as principals don’t have time to wade through the forest of information that you are presenting. Keep it as short and simple as possible. Try and reduce everything to one page. This is a great exercise to ensure that you don’t include unnecessary information. Limit yourself to only one A4 page. The trick here is to creatively fit the information onto one page. Using vertical text boxes helps you fit more information on one page.


Your reputation is everything.  A principal will be less likely to appoint someone that they suspect of fabricating the truth, than employing someone who is truthful in their CV.
Being dishonest in your CV has been a national narrative with a lot of people in top positions being caught out with dire consequences. Do not fall for this trap.  Many experienced principals would be able to identify a lie when they see it.


Do not ‘Spray and Pray’! This is also known as the shotgun method where you compile a generic cover letter and send your CV via email to every single possible school. In doing so, you just hope and pray that some principal somewhere would read your CV and invite you for an interview. Hope is not a strategy.
Every school is unique, therefore you’ll need to uniquely craft your CV to appeal to a specific school. Do not send out generic cover letters. Every single CV that you send out should be targeted to an individual school.
It is often more beneficial to spend your time on targeting 3 or 4 schools that you would be interested in working at. Get to know each school by doing some research on their ethos, history and educational interests. You would be able to get this information on the school’s website. Craft your CV specifically for that school.


Include a section in your CV about your hobbies and interests, but ensure that these hobbies and interests are translatable to the workplace. Explain how these hobbies and interests will benefit the school.
I normally include my love of the performing arts. I have experience in script writing, acting and directing stage plays. This will translate well as these skills will contribute greatly to many extra mural activities. I also participate in different sports so I would be able to manage a sport team or even coach one of the sport teams. By including this in my CV I could convince the principal that I will be an asset to the school because I can be used in multiple facets of school activities.
This could possibly give you an advantage above other applicants who do not have experience in extracurricular activities.


Your shortened CV will most likely not be enough to set you apart from other applicants who also have optimized their CVs. In order to set yourself apart from the field, you will need to be creative. One suggestion is to document all of your activities in order to build up a portfolio of evidence. In this way you will be able to showcase your unique approach to teaching.
It is better to show the principal what you are capable of than only relying on text on a document. Imagine how impressed a principal would be when you show them a short video compilation of your capabilities. People tend to rather watch video’s than read. Use this to your advantage. You can upload your video to a personal YouTube channel and include the link in your CV.


I thought I’d include this as a bonus tip even though many would say that it is intuitive. Spelling errors and typo’s will move your CV from the principal’s desk to their waste bin in a matter of seconds.
Send your CV to reputable copywriters who will edit and proof read your CV. If you can’t afford the services of a copywriter you can always let your close friends proof read it for you. A fresh pair of eyes will pick up some of the mistakes that you might have missed.
Now that your CV is optimized, you can implement your distribution strategy. If you’d like to see an example of such a shortened one page CV, be sure to watch the following video:

Thank you to Francois “Super Teacher” Naude for contributing this post to RSA Teaching Jobs!
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