Best candidate for the job

4th April 2008 at 01:00
It may be clear to you, but what does your CV tell the interviewer? John Howson, the TES careers expert, reveals who would make his shortlist, and why

A good, well-designed curriculum vitae can be a real help when looking for a teaching post. The huge improvements in technology in recent years have made it possible to present professional-looking CVs with little effort. Various templates are available as part of word processing and desktop publishing packages. Unfortunately, these are generally easy to recognise and any school that recruits regularly is likely to have come across the main ones.

If you are using one of these packages, remember that a school may be able to tell how much effort you have put into creating the CV. Should that matter? After all, it is the information that is important. Nevertheless, those who look at applications are only human and will note any that are package-based.

It goes without saying that any CV should be checked for spelling, punctuation and other possible errors. There is some information that is helpful to include, and should never be overlooked, such as possession of a clean driving licence and familiarity with any relevant IT software packages. Although many schools demand a completed application form, many recognise that trainees will be applying for lots of teaching jobs at the same time. If each school demands a different application form then they risk making too many demands on applicants and potentially losing good candidates, who may suffer from application fatigue.

But, with the emphasis on fairness and equal opportunities, there are still those who believe that only the same application form completed by all applicants is good enough.

PRIMARY UNDERGRADUATE

Four-year course

I suspect that this is a package-based CV, but it doesn't grate on the eye. After the basic name, age and contact information this application contains a personal statement. I am not sure that this is helpful in a CV and it certainly shouldn't be mixed up with the starting and graduation dates for the course.

As this candidate went straight from school to university, it is slightly unusual to find "working experience" before education. However, as most of the work is linked to education and children, this may be a good idea. Had the work been of little relevance to teaching I wouldn't have put it first.

When I reached the qualifications section I started to wonder about missing periods of time. GCSEs taken in 2000, but A-levels in 2004. What happened to the applicant's studying in between? If there are gaps in your CV, ask yourself what someone reading it might think.

Surprisingly, the qualifications section doesn't include information about the degree course being studied and contains no mention of what the student has learnt about teaching or where her placements have been.

Verdict

Generally well presented, but I gained nothing from the CV about why this person wants to be a teacher except the bald statement that: "I am studying ... for a teaching degree in Primary Education specialising in Early Years." This applicant probably wouldn't make my shortlist.

SECONDARY UNDERGRADUATE

Three-year course

The four pages waste space, with the first page providing basic information. Think of the photocopying costs. I liked the final page in table form for work experience and wondered whether the rambling "other qualifications and achievements" section on pages two and three could have been presented in a similar format?

Surely, saying Level 1 in athletics, FA, netball and rounders is better than listing each one on a separate line. There is no indication as to what Level 1 is, but I assume a specialist would know, even if the headteacher didn't. It might have been better to say whose awards these were.

There is much to talk about if you gain an interview, but nothing that I could find that was course-related and no indication of where you have been placed in schools.

Verdict

Too long and not enough information on teaching. Presentation is straight forward but wastes space. Might well interview, especially if our school taught hockey.

PGCE SECONDARY SCIENCE

A three-page no nonsense CV. I was curious as to why publications were on page one before the section on PGCE teaching practice and previous teaching experience. Both of these are probably more valuable in ensuring you make the shortlist rather than mentioning your four academic publications.

Because you are a mature student with considerable work experience it is not easy to tell whether there are any gaps in your CV. You have also omitted your age, as you are entitled to do, but from the date of your GCEs, I can deduce you are in your late thirties, so why make it difficult?

This is a CV created early in a PGCE course, so there is not a lot you can say but you have commented on your first placement in detail.

As your career has taken several different directions, I was also looking for reasons why you left various posts. The answer might be promotion, or the fact that you wanted a higher degree or whatever, but I cannot work it out from this CV.

Verdict

This CV would get you on my shortlist.

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