Writing the perfect CV

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Writing the perfect CV

Producing a good CV should be like answering a well-revised exam question. It’s ok – even encouraged – to show off! Believe it or not, this doesn’t come naturally to everyone…

Even if you’re just starting out on your teaching career, it’s important to remember how much you have to offer. When you’re writing your CV the objective is to point that out clearly and succinctly. Your CV will often be one of many on a recruiter’s desk which is why brevity and impact are so important.

Where to start

Just like that exam question – there’s rarely a ‘right’ answer when it comes to CVs, but there are certain key points which should not be missed:

  • Start with the obvious (not everyone does)! Your name and contact details need to be clearly presented at the top of your CV. It’s also useful to add them to any subsequent pages – perhaps as a footer.
  • Personal statement: This is the equivalent of the firm handshake when you meet someone for the first time. You should use this short paragraph to introduce yourself, outline what you have to offer, what you’re looking for, and give a flavour of your personality. 
  • Work experience: start with the most relevant, most recent first. If you’re applying for a teaching job, it would be sensible to prioritise your teaching experience and work placements. An employer will definitely be interested in your classroom skills, but don’t forget that holiday and/or weekend work also demonstrates work-readiness. Include your job title, the name of the organisation, the dates you were employed and key responsibilities. Bear in mind that these points may be picked up at the interview – be honest, enthusiastic, and make sure you have interesting things to say about them!
  • Education: list the dates, type of qualification and your results. If you’re new to teaching, you might choose to move this section up on the first page of your CV – it’s all about playing to your strengths. If you have more educational achievements than work experience, placing an emphasis on this section is a good idea.
  • Achievements: this gives you the opportunity to demonstrate how you achieved the skills you need to be a strong candidate. Listing relevant skills and achievements and providing evidence through examples will enhance the credibility of your application.  
  • Hobbies and interests: not an essential part of your CV, but this section could be a ‘nice to have’. Relevant and genuine interests in sport, music or drama (to name a few) could make you an attractive addition to any staff room and could be a source of common ground with an interviewer. Don’t forget, though, this will affect the recruiter’s perception – think carefully about what your hobbies say about you!
  • Extra information: anything that explains gaps in your career, or a change of direction, etc. should be included.


Getting the tone right

Choose a clear, straightforward layout that is easy to read. You’ll want to come across as an organised professional, and your CV should reflect those qualities. Section headings such as Work ExperienceEducation, etc. should be consistent and should be ordered logically.  

Most CVs should be no longer than 2 sides of A4. This means space is at a premium; prioritising your information and making careful vocabulary choices is essential. Think about what each example is demonstrating and start sentences with ‘wow’ words to set the scene. Positive openers could include assertive, confident, detail-conscious, flexible, hard-working, innovative, precise, pro-active, and responsible.

It is easy to fall into The Apprentice trap when you’re writing your CV – anyone can claim to be a ‘goal driven multi tasker with excellent communication skills’. The trick is to avoid clichés and back up your claims with examples, and make sure you’re telling the truth.

Once you have drafted your CV check your spelling, grammar and consistency of layout. 

Room for improvement

Remember that your CV is a fluid document. Keep it up to date and be prepared to tweak and tailor. The point of your CV is to highlight why you’re a strong candidate, what makes you stand out from the crowd and what you have to offer in that particular role. Check your potential employer’s website – if a school focuses on their behaviour management policy or their enrichment offering, for example, highlight something relevant from your interests or experience to show that you’re a good fit.

Help is at hand

Whatever stage you have reached in your career, a second opinion can always be useful. Hourglass consultants are CV experts. We also know our schools and what they are looking for.  

Get in Touch

Whether you’re a trainee teacher, someone with more experience, or a school with vacancies to fill, contact Hourglass to see how we can help.