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How (not) to write your CV

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Mainwaring, Feb 26, 2016.

  1. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    It’s a while since I wrote a CV, and these days I couldn’t be bribed to touch one with the spiky end of my olive rake, but in a sadly misspent career I had to trawl through thousands of the wretched things. Even so, I might hesitate to utter (on this subject at least) if my comments were not backed by current expert sources such as Business Network LinkedIn and Adzuna. An article that popped up on my news ‘app’ a week or two ago was not specifically targeted at teachers but for me it rang a whole carillon of bells.

    As all the regulars on the Forum well know, the surest way to skyrocket somebody’s systolic is to criticize their use of English, yet according to recruiters the most important change you can make to improve your chances is to use clear, everyday language without errors of grammar or spelling. Adzuna chief executive Andrew Hunter comments: ‘Spelling mistakes are a huge red flag for potential employers, and candidates need to take care to show their best side to hiring managers if they hope to make the interview stage.’ According to the gurus the most commonly misspelled words are 'responsibility', 'liaise' and 'university' (implying that many graduates can't have been paying a great deal of attention while they were there) followed by 'experience', 'speciality,' 'communication', 'achievement', 'management', 'environment' and 'successful'.

    Similarly, casual or sloppy phrasing will put potential employers off, with recruiters highlighting the importance of keeping a professional tone.

    Even when you’ve eliminated the errors, the sure-fire way to anaesthetize your recruiter is to parrot any or all of the top ten buzz-words: 'motivated', 'passionate', 'creative', 'driven', 'extensive experience', 'responsible', 'strategic', 'track record', 'organisational' and 'expert'.

    Over the past 20 years or so ‘team builders’ and ‘team players’ have been in vogue but it appears that ‘leaders’ are now back in fashion.

    So what does a recruiter want to see in your CV? S/he wants to know what you’ve DONE, including plenty of detail about your responsibilities and achievements in previous roles.

    Clearly, there are specifically education-related issues which should be addressed in a teaching application, but being out of touch with the latest edu-speak I hesitate to write at any length about these. In my day, I expected the applicant (addressing the vellum after dipping the quill into the pewter pot of oak-gall ink) to show me that s/he knew the difference between evaluation and assessment and could actually do both. Of course any secondary teacher who could demonstrate the merest inkling of understanding about differentiation (stock in trade in primary) was sure of an interview whether s/he could spell CAT or not.

    Finally, though 'discipline' is now, no doubt, a dirty word, a major issue for any headteacher is whether or not you can keep 'em in order. A guru of yesteryear made me laugh with 'In your letter of application you have to find the middle way between 'I aim to love them out of their naughtiness' and 'I've always been a confirmed sadist where children are concerned'.

    This has been quiet a long post and I relise I might of made some bloopers. But, they will only be typo’s and of corse I would never make them in a real aplication.
    lovely.lady and ejclibrarian like this.
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Very helpful, @Mainwaring , thank you. I shall link to it.

    Best wishes to Mrs M and the dogs.

  3. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    The same to you and the Prof and many thanks for this morning's message.

    The boys now have an adopted sister, Bella, a stray who gazed at me beseechingly when we were lunching outside the village bar. Mrs M blames the third cerveza. The TES nanny won't let me describe her as a beech (Bella, I mean, not Mrs M, who packs a surprisingly powerful right hook for a small woman).

    IMG_4850 - Copy.JPG
    sabrinakat likes this.
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Irresistible eyes!

    Best wishes

  5. lunarita

    lunarita Lead commenter

    Ah yes, and it works both ways. Seeing those words in a job ad or job description also puts me right off. "Outstanding" also makes me think at least twice.
  6. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Me too. The 'further details' sent to potential applicants for the most enjoyable job I ever had (Director of Studies in a newish state comprehensive) included the line 'We teach by authority', which would have seemed daringly old-fashioned for 1979 if the school in question had not been the top parental-preference school in Herts. Another blurb I found attractive (RC Comprehensive) referred applicants to St Benedict's guidelines for intending abbots.
  7. SPC2

    SPC2 Occasional commenter

    Oooo...now you've piqued my curiosity as that's where I served my UK time. Saint or Dame's school, by any chance (although he pecking order may have been different in our respective eras)? I was at a garden city school where a teacher of my subject later became a crime novelist and 'Ripperologist' - if that means anything at all.
  8. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    No Saint nor Dame but the Temple of the Knights, where the mighty Crell (still flourishing well into his ninth decade) was Grand Master.
  9. SPC2

    SPC2 Occasional commenter

    A bit like doing a crossword clue but (after cheating and using the internet) I got there! VC certainly sounds an interesting character.

    My place was the grammar school that became a comp in 1968, where I was possibly the last appointment of 'Juggsy', who was Head from that point until the 90s. He was a National Service Russian linguist, Oxbridge oarsman and, in his day, allegedly the youngest Head in the UK so the county seemed to attract its share of colourful figures.
  10. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    KTS was the former Baldock Secondary Modern. Appointed at 31 with a Cambridge History MA, VHC took it by storm. Of small stature, he was a big man in every other way. I once saw a huge thug (not one of ours) loom over him at the school gate. The dialogue went:

    'Do you want a fight?'
    'Not particularly. Do you?'
    'Er, no.'

    A Kiplingesque eccentric, he was given to statements such as 'I'll tell you what parents want: discipline, parquet flooring and Oxbridge entrance'. I helped to achieve the latter for him and he reciprocated by fulfilling a promise made at my interview: 'You will work your socks off for three years and then move to the deputy headship of a very good school.'

    I asked one of his Year 8 History kids what he thought about being taught by the boss. The kid replied 'Sir, most of the time I don't know what the 'ell he's on about, but I know he likes us.'
  11. Dr CO Jones

    Dr CO Jones New commenter

    'Remuneration' as in 'package' is often scrambled into ´renumeration', especially by the semi-literate who have not had the good fortune to be Welsh.
    revans66 likes this.
  12. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Cymru am byth
  13. Dr CO Jones

    Dr CO Jones New commenter

    I lawr gyda'r Saesneg!
    revans66 likes this.
  14. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

  15. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Up for the OP
  16. ConorDeak

    ConorDeak New commenter

    Some good advice on post 1.

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