Resume check list

Check List

According to The Perdue Owl (note: The Perdue Owl is a resource you should be using often if you aren’t already), an employer will peruse your resume for no more than 35 seconds before putting you in the interview pile or the trash. You want your resume to look clean and professional so it gives a positive impression of you at first glance.

If you are pretty much ready to go with your resume, all you might need is the checklist above. If you need more direction, keep reading. I expand on each bullet point below.

If you don’t have a file of everything you’ve done over the past five or so years it is time to compile that list.

typing at computer

I recommend opening a blank Google Doc and typing in the following categories:


List your undergraduate, and-if you have it- graduate, degrees. If you don’t have a degree/certification in education yet, you might list classes you’ve taken that would be pertinent to teaching.

For example, I double majored in Psychology and Literature and Cultural Studies in undergrad. I didn’t take any education courses until grad school, but I did take Child Development, Developmental Pyschology, and Learning and Memory in undergrad. If I was applying to a teaching job or even a long term sub job right out of college those classes might be worth listing on my resume.

Professional Experience:

I was a kayak tour guide in college. I could connect that by talking about how I taught safety and paddle techniques.

List any work experience you’ve had over the past several years. The length of time you’ll cover depends on your age and whether you are going directly into teaching out of college or if you’re a career switcher. These work experiences do not need to directly relate to teaching. Any work experience that shows you are reliable, resilient, and dedicated is relevant.

This doesn’t need to be paid work only. Include volunteer experience as well as any practicums or student teaching you’ve done.

Awards, honors, and publications:

Put anything you can think of here. I received an academic scholarship from my sorority my senior year of college. I included that. Were you inducted into any honor societies in college? How about employee of the month at work? Publications might include things like your college newspaper or a peer reviewed journal.

Determine your template

A standard resume template will usually do the trick. Many word processing programs (Word, Google Drive) have a resume template built in. There are also education resume templates free online.

These programs are great to help you get started with formatting, but you may have to change some of the headings. Most teaching resumes include categories for: classroom experience (student teaching, practicums, past teaching jobs), testing and certification (Praxis, VISSTA Certificate, etc), additional experience (non-teaching jobs), Awards, publications, and presentations. Some contain even more categories like: leadership experience or special skills.

I understand that non-traditional resumes are more en-vogue than ever, but if you do go a non-traditional route and forgo the template, be sure that your resume is still clean, readable, and easy to navigate.

Start filling in your template. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Don’t worry about the number of pages. Just get everything down.

Your name should be a slightly larger font than the rest of your resume. It should stand out and be the first thing a potential employer sees. And for goodness sakes, please use a professional font.

Make sure to provide a current address and a permanent address if you are a student, or are planning on moving soon.

Fill in each of the categories from your template (from most recent to most distant) to the fullest extent possible. Go to the list you made at the beginning of this post. Use it all! Here is a sample resume to give you a sense of categories and how to list things under those categories:

resume page 1
resume page 2


Now that you have everything you can think of on your resume it is probably way too long. It is time to cut. You want it to be one complete page, or two complete pages; preferably nothing in between.

Go back through and cut any experiences that do not relate to teaching. Also cut anything that is more than five years old and doesn’t make an important statement. If you volunteered at a charity walk five years ago, cut it. If you published a book five years ago, keep it. You get the idea.

Try to get it down to two pages or less.

Building back up

Once you have it down to the very best representation of who you are it is time to go in with the big guns. The buzzwords. I wrote a previous post listing 25 current buzzwords. Check out that post and see if you can incorporate three or more. If three is easy, go for five. Just make sure you maintain the integrity of what you are saying. Use a little finesse; don’t force it.

For example, I could change:

XXXX Middle School: Teaching Internship Fall 2014- Spring 2015
6th Grade Special Education and Honors English. Experienced complexities of an inner city school. Collaborated with Special Ed. & Regular Ed. teachers to design a series of Language Arts lessons. Observed, assisted & taught.


XXXX Middle School: Teaching Internship Fall 2014- Spring 2015
6th Grade Special Education and Honors English. Experienced complexity of the Achievement gap. Collaborated with Special Ed. & Regular Ed. teachers to design a series of highly engaging project based Language Arts lessons which differentiated for diverse student needs.

Don’t lie, but if you did these things, why not highlight that you know what’s up in the world of education with current buzzwords.

Final cuts and clean up

If adding buzzwords pushed your resume over two pages, time to go back and cut again. Remember, you do not need complete sentences. Also look for use of the word “that.” It can usually be cut without changing the meaning of your sentence.

Also, go back and double check dates, spelling, and formatting.

Have someone else look at it closely.

If you’re in college, there is probably someone in the career center who specializes in resumes. Have them take a look at it.

If you don’t currently have access to a career center, try your local library, or even have a friend or family member take a look.

Ask them for feedback on readability, formatting, and grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Is it worth paying a resume service to make your resume stand out?

I never have, but I’m not going to say it’s a bad idea. Given the current state of teacher shortages in America, you likely won’t need to worry about it enough to spend money you don’t have on it.

Thinking about becoming a teacher? Check out these posts:

Should I teach?

Why should I teach?

Unexpected perks of teaching

Will you mind the scrutiny that comes with teaching?

Can you live on a teacher’s salary?

Nursing vs. teaching

Can an introvert become a teacher?

Want more? The Wannabe Teacher’s Guide has even more resources.

If you found this helpful, make sure to pinpost, and tweet to share it with other new teachers who might also benefit from it!

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A Teacher's Guide

I am a National Board Certified educator currently teaching in Virginia. I have taught the following: English 9, 10, 11, and 12 (on academic, collaborative, and honors levels); Dual Enrollment English; Mass Communications, Yearbook, Newspaper, and Communications Technology. I have experience in five different school systems, four in Virginia and one in Maryland. I served as my school’s 2019 Teacher of the Year and was a top five finalist for the Teacher of the Year for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I am passionate about recruiting and retaining quality educators in our public schools. Let me help you find your path to changing lives through teaching!

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