Best Careers for Teachers: Creating a Winning Resume and Cover Letter (page 2)

Updated on Aug 12, 2011

Power Verbs

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When you begin writing your cover letter and your resume, you need to target your transferable skills, the ones that can easily be applied to a field other than the field you are leaving. In other words, if you are leaving teaching for a separate field, then you need to summarize your skills in "non-teacherese." Some of the most important skills to highlight include:

  • organizational skills
  • entrepreneurial skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • critical thinking
  • ability to learn new skills quickly
  • ability to multitask
  • ability to work under pressure
  • ability to meet deadlines
  • strong writing skills
  • research skills
  • ability to get along with a variety of people and cultures

Make a list of the things you have accomplished through your teaching career and then analyze how you can rephrase them to highlight the skills and abilities just listed.

Creating Your Resume

Once your cover letter is ready, it's time to turn to writing the resume itself. There is no blanket resume that will work for every person or every job, of course. Every resume has to be tailored to the specific job description, but here are some general guidelines to keep in mind.

A horrifying fact of job searching is that only one interview is granted for every 200 resumes received. In addition, the average employer only spends 10 to 20 seconds skimming the papers you probably spent hours—or days—putting together. A number of the experts in the field of job hunting encourage job seekers to consider their resume like an advertisement. You are trying to get an employer to "buy" or hire you.

If you start doing some research on how to write an excellent resume, you will quickly discover that everyone has his own take on it. Each advisor or consultant seems to have a great formula; then you get to the next one and it seems just as good. And in all honesty, they probably are all effective because there is no single right style.

Let's take a moment to focus on resumes specifically designed for people changing careers, since that is most likely what you need.

The way you organize your resume is primarily determined by whether you are transitioning to a similar career (classroom teaching to overseas teaching or tutoring) or to something quite different (classroom teaching to publishing). A minimal transition calls for a resume that focuses on your qualifications and certifications, while a bigger change calls for a resume that focuses on your skills while it downplays your work history.

Sample resume formats can be found all over the Internet and in a number of books. A good, basic pattern to use, however would look something like this.

Your Name

Street Address
City, State, Zip
Telephone numbers (landline and cell)
E-mail address


This is where you list what type of position you are hoping to achieve. Be specific and use strong verbs, as previously listed.


This is the place to list two to five of your very strongest skills.


This is where you list two to four achievements that you accomplished through work, hobbies, education or volunteer work. You might list any awards won and/ or civic/community leadership.


Which one of these you highlight depends on the job you are applying for and what area is strongest in your background. Important professional affiliations could go here as well.

If you are not sure you can create the best possible resume, you can always consider hiring a professional to do so for you.

    "An investment in a professionally crafted resume can pay off big time. There's no shame in hiring a professional resume writer. You hire doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, and tax consultants when you lack the expertise in those areas, so why should resume-writing be different? Many employers and even more recruiters actually encourage the idea of professionally written resumes because hiring managers want to obtain your information in a reader-friendly form that clearly tells how you benefit the organization."

— Katharine Hansen, PhD, creative director of Quintessential Careers

Here are some other tips for you to keep in mind as you put together your resume:

  • Don't put the word "resume" anywhere on it.
  • The resume is about you, not about your past employment.
  • Keep the job objective to six words or fewer.
  • Do not include your personal information or interests.
  • Do not include your ethnic or religious affiliations.
  • Do not send or attach a photo of yourself unless the specific job application requests it.
  • Avoid the use of any professional jargon or slang.
  • Don't include "references upon request" or "available for interview" because they are both obvious.
    A real quote from a person's resume—who clearly did not get hired. "I got good communication skills and in my previous projects sometimes i handled the project alone. I got some idea in web server administration. I know cold fusion administration. Intrested to relocate anywhere in USA. Looking for a better position and i am available right now."

— Taken from http://

Your resume is the toe that gets your foot in the door for a new job. It is a paper model of you and what you have been doing with your life for the past years. If the cover letter is a handshake, then the resume is a quick chat over a cup of coffee. Both of them are designed to secure you the more intense interaction of a face-to-face interview—and then, hopefully, a new job.

Further Resources to Investigate


      Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches

      1388 Brightwaters Boulevard NE
      St. Petersburg, FL 33704

Further Reading

Enelow, Wendy and Louise Kursmark. Expert Resumes for Career Changers, 3rd edition ( JIST Works, 2010).

Greene, Brenda. Get the Interview Every Time: Proven Resume and Cover Letter Strategies from Fortune 500 Hiring Professionals (Kaplan Publishing, 2008).

Levinson, Jay Conrad, et al. Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0: 1,001 Unconventional Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Landing Your Dream Job (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

Noble, David. Gallery of Best Cover Letters: Collection of Quality Cover Letters by Professional Resume Writers ( JIST Works, 2007). Yate, Martin. Knock 'em Dead Cover Letters (Adams Media, 2008).

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