Application form: how to present long list of posts outside education
Are you struggling to fill in an application form? They say that you must include all your employment since leaving school, and explain any gaps. But if you didn’t decide to become a teacher until your thirties, have had several false starts in other careers, as well as working in Asda and Burger King as a student, you’ll soon see there’s not enough room to include it all. So what to do?
If lack of space is all you’re complaining about, you’re lucky – many forms are a nightmare in other ways too. Boxes too small, formatting that goes haywire the moment that you try to type something in. Terrible. And each form asks for more or less the same information, but presented in a slightly different way. Roll on the day that they introduce a United Teaching Application Form, similar to UCAS! But don’t hold your breath.
However, if you are applying for several jobs in the same Authority, you can often use the same form, so do keep the ones you’ve already filled in, you may be able to use them again.
But what to do when you have a l-o-o-o-n-g career history, and there’s only a limited space on the form?
Firstly, do be careful that you do account for all your time since leaving full-time education in school or college, with no gaps. This is all part of Safer Recruitment, where Heads are required to know what you have been engaged in, in order to winkle out any period when you were, for example, detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. I’ve never quite understood how having a perfect employment history presented on an application form can prove this, unless I actually get in touch with every single employer and asked for confirmation of your employment and dates, but there you go.
When you are putting down the details of non-education employment, keep it skeletal, just the bare bones, unless there is something that is directly relevant to the job that you are applying for. This is in fact a common mistake among those of you who are second-career teachers; you can sometimes give us too much detail about jobs that are basically irrelevant to the skills that you need in teaching.
And if you start giving full details of your responsibilities and achievements, the different allowances that you were paid at you will certainly fill up the form. Worse still, you will bore us to death, and throw serious doubts on you as a teacher.
If you cannot see what is relevant for this application, how can you select the relevant material to present to your pupils?
I once saw a form which gave three pages of full details about all the different responsibilities during a ten-year career in the forces, then had just one line about the seventeen years as a teacher. Bin.
So for posts outside teaching, for each one go for a brief one-liner: dates, name of employer, your job title.
Sometimes even that will not fit into that flipping form, so you’ll have to try a different tack. In such cases, put down the following: 1992-2005, career in public relations and marketing. Please see separate sheet for full details and dates. Give the details on this separate sheet (if necessary you will post it to the school; some applications don’t allow any attachments). But here again do not go overboard. Keep it simple: dates, name of employer, your job title. And don’t forget to have on the loose sheet your name and the name of the post that you are applying for.
As for all the part-time and temporary jobs that you had in the Sixth Form and while at University, I don’t think that you need name these individually, since you were simultaneously studying. So just write a general statement along these lines: Various part-time and temporary posts in retail and catering whilst in full-time education. This will cover both the shelf stacking and the burger flipping.
N.B. Do not try to massage your career history by leaving something off. Read this Blog for further details, which doesn't just apply to teaching abroad:
Can I omit, on an application, a period spent teaching abroad?
And this one . . .
The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth!