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Careers advice from Theodora Griff

Summary execution

On the online TES Jobseekers forum, I've seen employers saying how useful an executive summary is when sorting through job applications. What is this and how do you do one?

An executive summary is an at-a-glance way of showing a school that you match its person specification, and that therefore you have enough potential to be shortlisted for the job.

It is a two-column table: on the left are the school's criteria for appointment; on the right is brief evidence that you meet the requirements of the post.

Start by reading the person specification, noting which criteria are essential and which are just desirable (unless you have something outstanding to write, you can usually omit these). Ignore criteria for which you have no evidence: if the specification asks for "at least three years' experience leading a phase team" and you have only two years, don't include that in the summary where it will attract the school's attention. If you fail to meet several criteria you should seriously consider whether you should be applying for this post.

If you are lucky, after weeding out a few, you should be left with about a dozen points to find evidence for. If you are not so lucky, look at the criteria and decide which you could combine to make one point. For example, "Have self-assurance as a speaker in different situations" and "Be able to communicate confidently on paper or email with all members of the school community" could easily go together. You could combine and condense them, writing: "Assured speaker and confident communicator, both orally and in writing."

The final stage is providing your evidence, finding examples that prove you meet the criteria. For your first ever summary this can take quite a long time, but it gets easier.

Write "Your requirements" as a header on the left-hand column and "My skills and experience" on the right. Enclose the summary with your beautifully crafted letter of application.

Meet Theodora Griff online on the TES Jobseekers forum or in person at a TES Careers Advice Service seminar or individual consultation. bit.lyuWhqN2.

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