Hi, my name is Matt, owner of Teacher Application Services Australia. I’d love to talk to you about how you can secure your dream teaching job. It takes hard work, commitment and a strategy. It’s about visualising your teaching career as a journey and putting a plan in place to help you get there. So, first things first. Let’s talk about your application—your resume, cover letter and selection criteria. I’ll even give you a bonus teacher resume template and cover letter template to help you kick off your application.
Part 1: Teacher Resume Writing and Application
Build your experience
In order to develop a strong base from which you can create your application for a teaching job, you need to start from scratch. I recommend using a diary, or the “notes” section on your phone—whatever works, to record your skills, experience and initiatives along the way. If you are a graduate teacher without any previous teaching experience, then you might like to start by writing down your previous relatable skills, or experiences you have had on your practicum teaching blocks that you were involved in.
If you are an experienced teacher—either casual or permanent—try to continue your development and put your hand up for leadership or extra-curricular opportunities to show you are keen and willing to get involved in the school. This is where you will shine! Not only will you be able develop your expertise, but you’ll also be expanding your list of skills and experiences that you can truthfully write about in your CV and future applications.
Find a mentor
Your list of skills and experiences as mentioned above will continue to evolve and with each new role or phase of your career this process will continue. No matter what stage of your teaching career you are in, when you are considering applying for a job, it’s important to find a mentor.
The purpose of a mentor is to clarify what your goals are, someone to talk to about potential opportunities coming up, establishing a plan of attack in terms of applying for a job, and chatting about all your skills and experiences that you can offer a school. A mentor might be your current supervisor or a trusted colleague — someone you trust that has school-based experience.
Applying for a teaching job
Once you have found a job that appeals to you based on your situation, location, skillset and teaching codes then it’s time to tackle the application phase. This phase – some like to say – is a job in itself. That being said, it doesn’t have to be difficult if you’ve done the groundwork, jotted down your skills and have a mentor to bounce ideas off.
The important thing to focus on is – what is the job advertisement asking of you? Is this a temporary or permanent position? Does the panel require a cover letter, ask for a CV? Or just an EOI form with selection criteria?
If it is a permanent role, usually including all three of these elements is beneficial:
Teacher cover letter
This should be a one-page document unless the selection criteria is to be combined with the cover letter, in which case there may be a page limit specified. For a departmental role, this should be separate from the selection criteria document. Within a cover letter your aim is to address the Panel Convenor and indicate your intention to apply for the advertised role. Ideally you should include no more than 5 paragraphs. Breaking up your intention to apply for the role, your current role and experience, your current philosophy of teaching, your suitability in regard to the selection criteria and your interest in attending an interview.
This should be no more than two pages in length, listing your contact details, academic qualifications, professional teaching roles and experience, along with any other relevant employment or experience, a list of recent and relevant professional learning courses and details for three contactable referees.
Teacher Resume and Cover Letter Example
When it comes to selection criteria, you should first ensure you understand the basics, like requirements on page limits and number of selection criteria, as these vary state by state. Some applications, for example, require half a page for each criterion, which equates to two pages if you have four criterion to cover. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the required font sizing, formatting and spacing.
Once you have set up your document, this is where your diary of skills and experience comes in handy. I always suggest that my clients have between 2-3 clear and measurable examples for each criteria point. These examples must have a clear and obvious outcome that can be quantified with data or a qualitative achievement. Here we want to focus on the student and the school as a priority, but you can also include personal teaching outcomes as well. Projecting into the advertised role is also very important for you to establish a connection to the school you are applying for.
Preparing your referees
- Choosing your referees
Most teaching job applications require at least two references, with contact details of each reference, along with their position title and school or employer name. For many departmental teaching jobs, the application will specify that of the two referees, one must be a principal, and the other your line manager. I would advise that even if the advertisement does not specify who should be your referee, you should still aim to use your principal and your supervisor or head teacher.
If the application calls for three referees, try to include a school-based referee rather than an external referee to keep things relevant. While having your principal and supervisor as references lends your application credibility, it’s important to gauge what they might say before using them as a reference. For this reason, I recommend choosing your referees carefully, particularly the third referee. Think of this person as your secret weapon as often times, they can help get your application over the line if there are two candidates that are neck and neck.
- Brief in your chosen referees
What you provide the referees that you have chosen is also vitally important. After applying for the position, send a copy of your complete application to each referee individually. I also recommend sending them a “referee tip sheet”. This is a summarised one-page document which covers the specific key points you would like them to discuss. It’s important you write out what skills and experiences they might be able to speak to regarding your practice if they were called. If you have this written out for them, they will not have the stress of flicking through each page of the application if they get a call. Also, each referee will be aware of different facets of your skills and practice, so try to focus on the major points for each and provide some short examples if you can.
So, you’ve been successful in your application and been invited to interview for your dream teaching job. Check out our next blog in this series for tips on acing the interview and what to do after to give yourself the best chance of getting the job.