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TnT 67 The ONLY advice you need to write a killer teacher resume

New teachers around the world are gearing up to find their first new job OR find a better one. Part of that job hunt is the dreadful but necessary part of writing a resume. But what if you don’t have much experience to list on your resume? Should it be one page or more? What if you took a year off to travel? There’s so much conflicting information on the Internet, so I brought professional resume writer Lauren Hamer to answer these questions. From cover letters to thank-you emails, Lauren and I go into all of the details that will make you stand out and get an interview.

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Click here for Lauren’s article on follow-up emails after an interview

 

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Transcript

Kim  

Welcome to the Teachers Need Teachers podcast, a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. I’m your host Kim Lepre, and this is the podcast for new and beginning teachers who don’t want to just survive those first few years but actually thrive. 

 

I am so excited to have you guys here today because I have an awesome guest. As I mentioned, her name is Lauren Hamer. And she is the founder of Launchpointresume.com, which, as you can imagine, is a resume writing service. And I know that right now, you know, you may have just finished with your student teaching, and you’re ready to go into the teaching field. Or maybe you are looking to change schools because you’re not really satisfied with where you’re at. 

 

So I wanted to bring in an expert on writing resumes because I’m going to be completely honest with you guys. I haven’t written a resume in a while. And so I’m not exactly the best person to talk to you about what to put in a resume. I can work on I can help you guys with like interview stuff. But when it comes to resumes, I’m really glad that I got Lauren on this interview with me because your mind is about to be blown. 

 

Now before I dive into that, I did want to give a shout out to some of my awesome supporters of the podcast. I have Betsy Koski and Marianne Kosik Stacey Ahrenstein, and Stephanie Ivory. Thank you guys so much for supporting the podcast and being an awesome supporter. 

 

And if you also want to join in and support the podcast because you love it, and every week, you come back, and you’re like, this is amazing. And somehow Kim, I want to show my gratitude, then you can head on over to teachersneedteachers.com/support. And there you can sign up to be an awesome supporter. And also you will get access to updates on episodes. And you’re also going to be able to see me podcast, not live but you get to see videos of me podcasting, I know that sometimes you like to put a face to a name. So if you’re interested in that, and you’re able to support the podcast right now, I would really, really appreciate that.

 

So a lot of you have probably gone online somewhere and looked for resume templates or tips on how to write a resume. And there’s a lot of you know, good information out there. And I’ve seen some really pretty templates, like on Teachers Pay Teachers or maybe on Etsy. 

 

But what if that isn’t the best way to write a resume? What if you actually need to do something a little bit simpler? Or what if you’re missing something on your resume, that’s not only going to showcase your strengths, but will also get you to stand out? I mean, if you think about it, when you apply for a job, you don’t know how many people are applying. I mentioned before that I have a colleague and he was applying for a job. And he discovered that 50 other people were also applying. 

 

And so how do we get to the point where we’re going to be in the back of the hiring managers mind be that the principal or assistant principal? Or if they have someone from HR do it? How can we make it so that they just can’t seem to forget about us? And they just are like, You know what? I have to have them on my site.

 

So my conversation with more and it goes into a deep dive into resume writing. So I highly recommend that you take notes or that you listen to this several times, maybe even bookmark this episode. Because when it comes time to writing your resume, you’re definitely going to want to listen to this several times. So here’s my conversation with Lauren. 

 

Well, thank you, Lauren, so much for being on the podcast. I really appreciate you taking the time to be here.

 

Lauren  

Yes, thanks so much for having me on. I’m excited.

 

Kim  

So I’m really excited about this topic. I know it sounds weird, but I think this is something that my listeners are going to, regardless of how long they’ve been teaching there and get so much out of this. Now, for those of my listeners that don’t know you, could you tell us a little bit about what you do?

 

Lauren  

Absolutely. Okay, so my full name is Lauren Hamer, I am the founder of Launchpoint Resume. So I am a certified professional resume writer and career counselor, but Launchpoint Resume helps job seekers stay competitive in the job market. So we help overhaul people’s resumes create really engaging and memorable cover letters and how all together help them put together a professional portfolio that helps them stand out among the competition. 

 

So we help job seekers from college kids that are writing their first resume, looking to score an internship all the way up to recent graduates, young professionals, and executive level clients who maybe haven’t written a resume in 20 or so years and don’t know what’s changed since then. So that’s who I help primarily.

 

Kim  

And how did you get into that?

 

Lauren  

Yeah, so this kind of the whole business Launchpoint Resume was born out of my struggles with the job market and finding a job that I love. So I graduated in 2013. While I was in college, I was an academic advisor and a career counselor for the psychology and special education department. And so when I graduated with those degrees, anybody who was also graduated in 2013, or anywhere near there, can understand and remember probably that they were some of the worst years for graduates in terms of just the job market. 

 

So I had a tough time finding full-time work in really any field, it took me about a year to get full-time work. I spent three years after that just kind of bouncing around from jobs that I wasn’t necessarily passionate about. So all of those times, I was just submitting job applications to these online portals and getting those either automatic rejection letters. So you know that nobody ever saw what you submitted, or you were doing, I was a victim of the classic ghosting, where they just you know, would never respond to any of your follow up emails, or you would just have complete radio silence, which I think was most frustrating. 

 

I was helping friends kind of navigate that process too. And so I kind of, you know, went back to what I knew as a writer, that advisor, and got my  professional resume writing certifications, and Launchpoint Resume was formed. And we’ve been running with it ever since I’ve helped, you know, hundreds of people get jobs at this point. And it’s been so fun. I’m so happy with it.

 

Kim  

That is awesome. Yeah, that whole 2013 time, that was pretty bleak for everyone. And you’re I can just imagine even teachers trying to get jobs because school districts were cutting and they were increasing class sizes. And so the fact that you waded through that, and were able to get, you know, full-time work, even after a year, that’s amazing.

 

Lauren  

So, you know,  I come from a family of teachers as well. So I have a twin sister who graduated with a teaching degree. And she too had some really hard struggles trying to find, you know, jobs that weren’t just, you know, substitute positions that were bouncing around from school to school. So she felt the strain as well. 

 

Kim  

So then this is like something that you’re familiar with what teachers go through, then?

 

Lauren  

Oh, absolutely. I mean it’s the summer of 2019 and everybody’s kind of ramping up for the hiring, you know, push right now. And I’ve had a few teaching clients in the past couple of months. And I always really enjoy working with teachers, because they’re always very conversational, and very personable. And so they’re a fun client to work with.

 

Kim  

Oh, yeah, that’s good to know. Now, my listeners understand that you know, we have to have a resume prepared and submitted. But what’s truly the point of a resume, like, what are employers looking for?

 

Lauren  

Absolutely. So I think that a lot of people tend to, they have a resume, and then they put all their eggs in one basket, meaning that okay, this resume is going to get me the job. When I think that that’s incorrect, we kind of have to step back and realize that the real point of the resume is to get you the interview, it’s to move you forward one more step into the in the application process. 

 

So you have to understand that then once you get the interview, your resume will help you in the interview to then sell yourself a little bit better. So we have to treat our resume like a highlight reel, kind of like a snapshot of your best accomplishments, your most unique personal attributes. And then remember that employees are looking for resumes that demonstrate that effectively. 

 

So if people who are trying to rewrite the resumes can remember that employees are looking at probably about 250 resumes per online application, they have to figure out a way to stand out. So employers need to be able to immediately understand why the person that’s on the resume could do the job that they’re looking for, they need to be able to make that connection within 10 seconds or less and say to himself, like, yep, I understand exactly why this person’s applying for the American history position at the high school, they want resumes that are clear, concise, mistake-free, easily comprehensible. Because when you’re looking at so many resumes at one time, if you make it hard for them in any way to simply get why you’re applying, they’ll move on to a resume that does. So I think that’s how people have to approach that. And I think that’s what we’ll kind of get into as we move forward.

 

Kim  

Okay, yeah, I never thought about it that way that the resumes were just getting you the interview. And that’s interesting, because I’ve also been on interview panels, and I’ve seen resumes, it’s really weird, you really can tell a lot from a resume. So I didn’t know that. They just look at it for 10 seconds, and they move on. 

 

Lauren  

Because they just don’t have the time. So they’re scanning through all these documents, they’re looking for something that catches their attention. And then if they actually liked the resume, they’ll kind of go deeper than just the top one-third of the resume. So part of the strategy is putting all the good information at the top.

 

Kim  

And it’s good to know. So then that leads me to my next question. So what are the basics of a resume? And what should applicants always include?

 

Lauren  

I think if we’re talking about resume basics, it’s all just about information. So obviously, you want to include the basic information, your name, accurate contact information, you’d be surprised at how many people have inaccurate contact information, emails, which it’s crazy, I think that’s terrible. It’s a bad first impression, too. 

 

So make sure that your contact information is up to date, education, obviously, and a snapshot of your work history in terms of the basics. I think that for teachers, that education section, as well as any certifications or licensure that you have,  is going to be very important. 

 

And also, I think, a lot of teaching positions you apply for obviously online. So all the more I should say, minute information that you don’t ever really think is that important, like the employment dates, or cities and states and the job title and the school that you were working at, those all have to be filled in too to leave no informational holes. Because when you’re uploading the resume, it will parse that information auto-populate into those fields. And if you’re missing it, then you’re just making it harder for yourself because you have to go back and fill those it again. So in terms of basics, it’s all just the informational stuff.

 

Yeah. So employment gaps are always kind of a struggle for people. And it depends on what your employment gap was. If it was something where I mean, I’ve had clients that have had legitimate family emergencies, or they had to stop working to help take care of a family member or something along those lines, there is nothing wrong with putting a simple bullet point in there that addresses the employment gap. 

 

Kim  

And what if I have any holes in my employment? Do I need to mention that, like, if I was just a bum for a year what do I put if I’m just being honest?

 

Lauren  

Because what, by not addressing it, it looks a little fishy, and it comes off as a red flag. So if it’s something like that, definitely address it. But if you were if you had an employment gap, and you were doing other things like volunteering, or maybe you’re a parent who had children, you can mention that because being a full-time mom is a job in and of itself. And, you know, teachers know that very well. Right, you can list that as a work history entry to account for that gap.

 

Kim  

Oh, that’s good to know. So with something, let’s say that I traveled a lot for a year. I mean, that doesn’t look bad either, does it?

 

Lauren  

No, that’s actually very, very valuable information. One of the companies that I worked for before I started the business hired my coworker, because of his time that he traveled abroad, because they have the type of people that typically travel abroad and do a lot of just, you know, traveling as a whole, they’re very adventurous, they are the, you know, they can think on their feet, they’re pretty responsible, right? 

 

So all those personal attributes and things that you learn the skills you learn when you’re traveling to unfamiliar places are very valuable. And so you could just include that in a section that’s labeled, you know, extracurricular activities, or interests and stuff. And that would be very relevant information to include. 

 

Kim  

Oh, that’s good to know. Okay. Now, so I have the basics of my resume. But what can I add to it to take it to that next step and make it a killer resume?

 

Lauren  

Yep. So I think, to go one step further, in resume creation, one of the things that is really helping people nowadays, because the competition is so fierce right there, you know, looking for the resumes that match all their qualifications. So one of the ways that you can ensure that your resume does that, and then it’s super effective is to add a list of key skills. So this helps ensure that your resume has enough keywords from the job description. 

 

And you can always gather insight as to what those keywords may be and what those districts are looking for in a candidate by paying attention to the sections in the job description that say either preferred qualifications or required qualifications because oftentimes, this is where they will list. You know, obviously, the qualifications that they’re looking for. 

 

So say, they’re listing excellent verbal and written communication skills, the keywords, there are verbal and written communication skills. So you want to make sure you have that, or if they mentioned anything about 504 plans, an IEP or Individualized Education Plan, definitely put that in your list of key skills if you have expertise in that area, because that’s going to help get your resume further along in the process when you’re working with online application systems, which we can chat about further because ATS software is a whole another monster.

 

Kim  

Exactly. No, when I’m writing those skills. You know, it sounds like the job description part to me, which always kind of freaks me out. Because I don’t know, I’m a teacher, I teach. So what kind of language should I use from describing what I do at my job? Like, what else should I put so I stand out, and I’m still highlighting my strengths?

 

Lauren  

Because teaching you can, there are only a couple ways you can say that you’ve created lesson plans or communicated with students and parents and start or maintained a classroom environment that’s, you know, disciplined, and whatever, there’s only a few ways you can say that without sounding repetitive. And plus, that’s usually the same across all boards. 

 

So you have to think about how you are going above and beyond that, what that actually looks like for you on a daily basis. So one of the things that I’ve done with a lot of my teaching clients in the past that we really kind of delved into what their teaching style is, and how they would describe that, because not only does this help them in the interview process, because more than likely, in some way, shape or form, you’re going to be asked a question about your teaching style, so you might as well kind of nail that down now. But then you can figure out a way to implement or integrate that I should say, into your resume and even your cover letter. 

 

So you can figure that out by trying to pinpoint what you do in your role that other teachers may not or what other parents say that they really liked about your classroom, any type of feedback like that would be really, really valuable. 

 

So think about how you relate to your kids, your organization, and communication style that may be different from other people’s or how you have differentiated or adapted lesson plans for learners. Like all those examples, and feedback that you can provide and receive from professors or even your student teacher Co Op would be super valuable here. 

 

I mean, I can use a client that I had as an example, she, in our conversations, she just kind of casually I was getting to know her work history and her background. And she casually mentioned that she was a high school teacher. So she said that her colleagues love to refer to her classroom as happy chaos. And I’m sure that any teacher listening can understand exactly what that looks like. It immediately evoked this image in my head of what that looks like so and I thought that was perfect. 

 

So things like that can really help take your resume to the next level. So we ended up, I asked you a few questions, we delve a bit deeper into that, and implemented that into a resume and cover letter because that helps give the reviewers an idea of how she would conduct her day to day responsibilities. And we framed it in a way of course that, you know, prioritized engagement and learning and all that good stuff that then principals and APs want to read.

 

Kim  

And when you’re listing, let’s say that I’ve taught at three different schools, would you front load all the good stuff on that on the most recent position, because they’re probably just going to skim the rest?

 

Lauren  

Yeah, I would say exactly. If you’ve taught the third grade at three different schools, put most of your detail into that first work history entry, because that’s the there. So the top 1/3rd of your resume is where they’re going to spend most of their time looking. But then they’re also going to pay attention to your most recent position because they want to make sure that that recent position somehow relates to the position that they’re looking for as well. So yes, front-loading it would be an excellent strategy.

 

Kim  

And then I forgot to ask this about the skills section, should I be customizing it for every single job position?

 

Lauren  

Yeah, I would do that. Now. More than likely, you won’t have to do too much customization from job to job, especially if you’re targeting the same types of positions. Now, if you’re targeting like a high school level position, or an elementary level position, those key skills that they list in the job description might be different. 

 

So you might want to, you might want to delete one or two and add an additional one or two in there depending on what that job description says, but there’s a fine line there, I wouldn’t go too far and like, and list every key skill that’s listed to the job description, because that’s going to come across as a little fishy. They might think, okay, you just keyword stuffed this resume. And now I don’t know that it’s authentic. But you do want to try to customize if you if you’re noticing those job descriptions, and the requirements for each position are vastly different than what you’ve been applying for in the past.

 

Kim  

Okay, good to know. Yeah, in my mind, I was like, oh, I’ll just take everything from the job description. But you’re right, that could look kind of cheesy too.

 

Lauren  

Because the key skill section provides, it’s easier for you, when you add that as a specific section to just go through and highlight one or two areas that you would want to customize for your resume. So it makes it easier for you as the job seeker who’s applying to multiple positions of you know, in one summer, to just know that these are the areas that you want to pay attention to customize for each role. And the key skills section is definitely one of them.

 

Kim  

Okay, good to know. And, you know, my resume, I’m not gonna lie, my resume is very boring looking. It’s like back in the day when you would find, you know, a Microsoft Word template for resume. But now, I’ve seen a lot of different formats. And I’ve seen some teacher resumes that have like, you know, some pretty normal fonts, and some are more flowery fonts, some have like this big sidebar with information. And I’m wondering, are these effective? Or are they distracting? Should I use something more basic that just goes, you know, like top bottom? Or should I have something that has some highlights on the margin? What’s your recommendation?

 

Lauren  

Okay, so there’s a lot of things that we can chat about here with the format because format and layout is definitely half the battle when you’re talking about effective resumes. Because, yes, content is key. But if your format and layout are doing more harm than good in terms of whether it’s distracting, or whether or not the online application system can even read it and digest it, it really doesn’t matter what your resume says, because no humid reviewer is ever going to actually get to read it. So um, and this kind of goes back to this applicant tracking software. 

 

So to answer your question, no, I usually, actually well, I hardly ever recommend formats that have, like you said information that is that’s in margins, or even resumes where I think you’re getting at with those two columns. So by that I mean, okay, so you have, for example, your contact info, your skills, and maybe like a summary statement on the left side, and then your work history and your education on the right. 

 

School districts are now using what’s known as applicant tracking software. So this is the software that will filter and scan resumes for certain info. So it’s this whole robot type system, and even though they are more advanced in capability than they were years before they are still robots. So they have a really hard time going from essentially like left to right rather than top to bottom to read and digest that information. So when you’re putting even just in basic layout, that really will hurt you. Because when you’re submitting the document to that portal, you have a chance of having maybe the software only scan the left side portion of your document, missing everything else, and you’re automatically like rejected. 

 

So that could be if you see your resume get hit with a lot of those automatic rejection emails, it’s an indicator that your resume is not ATS friendly. So a lot of these things that you see online are these formats that have these fancy, like pictures and icons and charts and graphs, and even then you know, very flowery font, because it’s done with good intentions, because you want to be able to stand out, right. But then again, the ATS has a really hard time reading those. 

 

So I always suggest that you steer clear of overly designed documents. So while it is beneficial to have visual interest, you can do that with maybe less traditional fonts. So instead of doing you know, like you said, the really boring Times New Roman font, go with like Georgia, or Veranda, because it is still a, it’s a widely used font. So it will be recognized, but it doesn’t look the same as every other font would. And you can also include maybe acted accent colors, but I wouldn’t go much fancier than that. 

 

And so this whole thing actually ended up spurring a whole new division of my company, which, because so many people had the same question. They’re like, Okay, my resume is so boring. But I’ve heard all about this ATS definitely. And I need to make sure that it’s passing that test, you know, and so I ended up creating these ATF friendly resume templates that are fully customizable for, you know, Teachers, students, and really, as young professional, and we tested it with ATS software, and they perform really well. 

 

So, I guess, to answer your question, I’d stay clear of all the fancy ones, you’ve got to find that balance between visual interest and readability. And I think if there was one key that your audience should take away from this, it would be this right here. Because if it’s not even getting through the system, you’re really not doing yourself any favors. So I would like dial it back on the whole format layout thing.

 

Kim  

That’s good to know. Because I know that a lot of times we want, we create a resume that we want to see, to be honest, you know, and a lot of teachers, they like to have like hand lettering and really pretty fonts. And, you know, and they like to make their teaching materials really visually appealing. And I think that bleeds into the resume writing because that’s just like who we are. But it sounds like you’re not making the resume for you. You’re making it first for the computer. And then second for the employer.

 

Lauren  

Yes, you’re making a first for a robot and second for the human eyeball. But yeah, like, you’re exactly right. And so if they, I see the value in demonstrating that you’ve got that like, for lack of better phrase artistic ability, because that is sometimes very valuable in the education field. 

 

So here’s the thing, if you wanted to create one of those fancy resumes, because you know, just can’t help yourself. Or even if that’s a passion, like if Adobe InDesign or that Creative Cloud software is a skill that you have, create that resume, but then bring that version with you to the interview, because you know, it’s good taste to bring copies of your resume to the interview. And once you know that it’s made it through the computer system, you can just hand them this really pretty one and say, Hey, here’s what else I can do. You know?

 

Yeah. Or if you wanted to get like really strategical in terms of like, job hunting and stuff, you know, there’s there multiple people in my family who have landing teaching jobs by have landed, I should say, teaching jobs by literally walking into the school and handing the principal the resume and saying, I’m hoping to hear from you soon. That would be another really perfect time to hand them a design resume because, at that point, it’s very memorable. And it’s not going through the computer; they already have it in their hand. 

 

Kim  

Good to know. Okay, I’m glad that clears that up. Now, here’s the next controversial thing that I see a lot of teachers actually arguing about in different Facebook groups, so they get hung up on resume length. And there’s always this debate is a one page to page three page. So what is the ideal length? And what if I can’t fit all of my stuff in that ideal length?

 

Lauren  

Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so I, too, am I get debated, or people asked me, I should say, on this topic all of the time, and this whole one-page resume myth is just something I wish that we could debunk forever. Like it, let it go. Because here’s the thing, your resume can and likely should be more than one page, especially if you’re somebody with over seven to 10 years of working experience. 

 

Now, that said, college students and recent grads with one or two years of working experience, shouldn’t be writing novels either where they are two and three pages long. Usually, they can get away with a one to one and a half page resume because that’s what their work experience is. 

 

But the lesson here, or I guess the takeaway here is that trying to consolidate all of your accomplishments into one page, or even just two pages, because you think that that is the absolute maximum is so detrimental, and you end up selling yourself short, because what I would end up focusing on instead is the instead of blank, I should say is whether or not all the information that you’ve listed on the page served some type of inherent immediate value to the reader. 

 

So if you’re finding that you have very relevant volunteer work, or extracurricular involvement at the university level, or something that maybe you coach outside of, like a girls on track program or something, and if that pushes it to more than one page, and so be it, keep it on, okay, because that’s a very valuable information. 

 

But I don’t think that you should be like omitting information or even stretching your resume to get to two pages or keeping it to one page, depending on your experience. It’s really about whether or not all the information there is serving value. 

 

There was a study that was published online, and then Business Insider picked it up. But they did a study on job applications and candidates that they wanted to interview and found that the majority of candidates that they chose to interview based on their resume had two page resumes. So their conclusion was that people preferred the two page because when you think about it, they’re getting a better snapshot of who they are as a person and what their experience is and if it’s just consolidated into one page. And even if you’re just kind of stuffing it into one page, then you lose all this white space. And it just looks like this block of text that nobody wants to read. So it’s better to kind of space it out. And then focus on the, you know, the one-page limit. They maybe they’ll debate that in the group after they hear this. 

 

Kim  

I’m gonna I’m going to post this episode in that group and say, Alright, guys, suck it up. Here you go. Now, on the flip side, though, a lot of my audience because they’re brand new teachers, they have little to no experience other than student teaching. So what should they put in their resume? Like, should they include conferences or professional development?

 

Lauren  

Yes, you’re definitely right. So professional development, any type of conferences that you’ve attended all show a commitment and dedication to the education field and industry as a whole. So yes, that is super relevant. But I think the key for people to remember that are either college students where they have little to no experience, and I say this to everybody is that not all relevant work experience has to be paid. So you’re you can get creative to think about all the other experience that you’ve had that’s preparing you to, or qualify you, I should say, for this teaching world. 

 

So if you think that your curriculum or you know, my sister’s curriculum, included field experience that exposed her to classroom environments, before she ever even hit the student teaching time in her course schedule, so she taught an adaptive PE class. So things like that are super valuable, you should including that in there as well. Other things such as research involvement that you’ve done with maybe a professor, or a thesis presentation that you’ve done in your classroom, or maybe you were lucky enough to present it at some conference, that’s also valuable. 

 

But another thing that I’d like to add, that kind of expands on their education, because at that point, when you have little experience, you’re really relying on your education,you can add an additional bullet point underneath your major and your university to chat about relevant educational coursework that you’ve taken. So maybe your college taught a class on special education procedures, or how to implement technology and education. All of those would be super, super relevant as well. And it helps add authority to your resume, even if you don’t have as much experience as the competition. So there are always creative ways to figure out what else you can put in there.

 

Kim  

I would hate to have a new teacher feel like they couldn’t put anything on their resume that  was barely a page. Do you know what I mean? So this is good to know that it does showcase if I’ve, you know, when I was getting my teaching credential, we didn’t have obviously a course on technology and education. So right, I would love to see that with if I’m on the interview panel, someone who already has a course in that. So now they’re good, I don’t have to worry about them not knowing how to integrate the tech in their teaching.

 

Lauren  

Yeah. And even if you Okay, so even if you don’t have that you didn’t have a technology course, it still is beneficial to let them know that you are proficient with technology if you are. So you could have a little section that describes technology platforms and programs. And you could list things like Google Drive, Skype, like basic things like that you could list smartboards that people use in classrooms all the time, or iPads or anything like that, just to just let them know that yes, that part about implementing technology into the classroom wouldn’t be as much of a learning curve as they are assuming if they don’t see any mention of that in your resume as it stands. 

 

So, you know, even things like that would work or like you said at the beginning, any traveling experience, abroad, login, all that kind of stuff is super relevant to any extracurricular stuff outside of your education that at least ties in some type of relation to teaching would be valuable to list as well. Right. 

 

Kim  

I definitely think that the teachers who are a little more worldly or have had more, I guess, you can say life experience, that way, they tend to fare better in the classroom anyway. They just tend to have a little more grit. So that’s good to know. So why do employers need a cover letter or a letter of intent? I mean, they have my resume and all my pertinent information, and they know that I want to apply for this job, obviously. So what should they put in there?

 

Lauren  

Yeah, so I answer this question, I kid you not, every single client tries to convince me that like, No, I don’t need you don’t have to write me a cover letter. I don’t want it. And I say, trust me, you do, you really do want it. Because cover letters, letters of intent they both serve a completely different purpose than your resume does. 

 

So if you think about how many like think about your cover letter right now, if you have one, it likely starts out with, you know, to whom it may concern. Or dear sir, Madam, I’m submitting my resume in response to the open position at so and so school. Every single cover letter starts out like that. So you have the opportunity to stand out by writing a targeted, engaging cover letter. And that will help you score the interview just as much as your resume can. 

 

Because here’s the thing, your cover letter is a another option opportunity for you to speak directly to how your background and capabilities line up with the opportunity that you’re seeking, you know, in a different tone than you can on your resume because it affords you a chance to introduce your personality more than your resume just because let’s be real resume verbiage is very bland, there is no first-person language there and it reads like a research paper. 

 

So anyway, so people end up realizing, okay, fine. So I’ll write a cover letter. So they write these really boring cliches, or they just kind of reiterate what they wrote in a resume into this cover letter and submit it. So thousands of those are circling the planet right now. You have an opportunity to write a killer one because absolutely nobody expects them anymore. No hiring manager expects to be able to read a cover letter that either connects with them on a personal level, makes them laugh a little bit or like give them additional insight as to who you are. 

 

So I even think you touched about this, touched on this in a previous podcast, but talking about how the hiring process really does focus on a resume. But these days, the school districts and teachers are really focusing on whether or not a candidate’s personality fits with the school themselves. So again, a cover letter can provide insight into that before you even get to the interview. 

 

So if you’re writing a cover letter, I would one, definitely write the cover letter. Two, figure out, think of ways that you can stand out and so you can talk about maybe how your core values align with the district’s core values, you can talk about maybe what specifically you like about that school that’s making you want to apply to this district over any other district. 

 

You can even connect with them on a personal level and like recall a time where a student just got it in your classroom, and it just reinforces this passion that you have for teaching or maybe like the time in your life that you realize that you wanted to be a teacher. Like things like that when your cover letter includes that, that’s when it’s most effective. And that’s how you can really stand out and like, you know, over somebody else who’s just going to toss them that to whom it may concern thing. So there’s definitely a way to do that effectively.

 

Kim  

 Do I still say to whom it may concern? 

 

Lauren  

Oh, no. So that’s a really good point. So more than likely, you know this school that is looking for the opening. So go online, Google, the principal is or Google who the AP is, and address it to that person in particular. Because that again just shows that added extra step of effort that most people aren’t going to do. And so if you can say, you know, dear, so and so.Start it like that, and then you know, sign your name, obviously. But yes, if you can address it to the person who you are somewhat sure that you might be interviewing with, then that’s even better.

 

Kim  

So then do the ATS systems do those usually scan cover letters as well?

 

Lauren  

No, the cover letter does not usually get scanned. So the cover letter will kind of like follow the resume through the application process. But usually cover letters are like when you get through the employment verifications, and all that kind of stuff, right at the end of the application, there will be an opportunity, in most cases for them to you to attach additional files. And usually those are like your personal references, or in this case, your cover letter, and those are kind of done after the fact. So you don’t have to worry about including keywords and everything like that, and the same strategy that you would on your resume in your cover letter. That part actually goes directly to the human reviewer, which is nice.

 

Kim  

And what if I’m applying to just like a pool, like an eligibility pool? So it’s not like a particular position is open yet, but they draw from the pool? Is that when I would put to whom it may concern?

 

Lauren  

Yeah, I would do that. Or if I mean, you could be like, bold and still address it to the principal, but I like I would try or even just say like, sometimes, I’ve said, when it’s outside of like the teaching profession, and they’re applying to company XYZ, I say, dear company XYZ team or something like that. You’re still personalizing it a little bit; you want to just make sure they know every single opportunity that you can you have put in effort into this application for them specifically, and you are not just regurgitating another application that you submitted elsewhere. 

 

Kim  

And you’re right, To Whom It May Concern is so generic.

 

Lauren  

But see, to be fair, like, that’s what everybody was taught. And it just, you know, now that competition is so fierce, you’ve got to find, you know, ways around that. 

 

Kim  

And what is, you know, with for those additional documents, what if I don’t have a lot of professional references? Aside from maybe like, my professors, or the teacher with whom I student taught? Do employers call these references? Or, you know, what are they allowed to ask, and how many references should I have? So that’s a three-part question.

 

Lauren  

Okay, cool. So, first, the professor and any professor that you have a really good relationship with in college, or even your student teacher co-op, those are very valuable, very relevant professional references to have. But if that’s kind of all you can think about, like right now, get creative, and maybe think back to a supervisor or manager that you’ve had in other jobs, maybe you were like a server part-time while you were working through college. And you have a pretty good relationship with your manager or colleague or co-worker, that you work there. 

 

Anybody who can speak to your work ethic and your personality in a positive way, obviously, you would never want to include a reference that wouldn’t speak highly of you. But anybody who can speak toward your work ethic and personality would be a valuable reference, because, yes, especially with Teachers, they do want to make sure that they are hiring people on the up and up. So employers do tend to call educational references more than they do in other industries. 

 

Whether or not, they go into a lot of detail, it’s kind of up in the air that just is kind of depending on how busy they are, and things that the like, but usually, they will ask how you know them, how the reference knows the candidate, how long they’ve worked together. And they’ll also verify employment to make sure that you’re not, you know, like, budgeting any type of details, so never details about that. It will catch up to you.

 

I’ve had teachers and also don’t lie on your resume too, but professional references, don’t lie there. But they have sometimes contacted my sister and her husband and my mom, and everybody who’s Teachers that’s either been by phone call, usually, it’s phone, but sometimes they also do that via email, which can also be a very simple, quick way of just kind of validating employment too. But because they more than likely are going to be calling your references, always make sure you are asking permission from the person that you want to use a reference, ask permission for them, so that they are aware that that’s happening. 

 

And then also, if you find that you’re like moving forward in the job application process, warn them that they should be prepared for somebody to contact them because there’s nothing worse. My son, my sister’s a recruiter now she’s no longer a teacher. But here’s the thing, if she calls a professional reference, and they don’t answer right away, she just moves on to the next candidate and sees what they’re interested in. Everybody’s in a time crunch to hire, right? So if it’s really hard to get in touch with your reference, then that is just kind of a roadblock that nobody wants to deal with. So always prepare them that hey, you may be getting a call from so and so School District or something. So answer that unidentified phone number that’s calling.

 

Kim  

That’s a good point because I don’t answer unknown phone numbers.

 

Lauren  

Or just listen to the voicemail and call them right back. 

 

Kim  

So I’m curious, what are some of the common mistakes that applicants make in terms of their whole resume package? And which of these mistakes will definitely doom them or keep them from even getting an interview aside from formatting and not making it through the system?

 

Lauren  

Yep. Well, yeah, so formatting and not making into the system is like the most common mistake, it’s a massive roadblock. But I would say what immediately turns off hiring managers and recruiters, just as a whole – typos tell you honestly,you would think that it’s just an easy, like, an easy thing. And you’re like, Oh, I don’t have any typos in my resume. You do. Because nearly every resume that I overhaul has come to me with errors. And it’s because I think that they’re not giving the resume to an additional pair of eyes who can look at it objectively, and just kind of like, you know, make sure it’s all well and good. 

 

Because if you submit a resume with typos, it just shows, well, it paints the picture that you’re lazy, and you don’t have an attention to detail which is not a good quality for any type of teacher that you want to hire. So typos are a big thing. 

 

I would say the other common mistake is more along the lines of just how people are approaching their resume package and just the job search as a whole. And it’s this, especially with younger job seekers. It’s this innate tendency to want to be humble. They are too are afraid to list out all their accomplishments and all their successes that they’ve had because they don’t want to sound or come across as too overconfident. So they’ll kind of like play it off like oh, yeah, I was like, I was class president, or I started so so and so club with the university but I don’t think that that’s relevant. So I’m just going to leave it off. 

 

But in reality, that is all very relevant. So a lot of what we try to do in our like, one-on-one consultations at Launchpoint is I’m like just asking all the questions. And sometimes they find it a lot easier to talk to somebody, a third person outside party, right, to really kind of narrow down what’s most relevant to them. But I would definitely say, if you are not going to be willing to promote yourself, then who will? At what time, what time, and when is there a better time than when you were in this job market looking for a better job than to want to promote yourself. 

 

So never be afraid to like, actually go for it. And like, talk about what you’ve done, because more than likely, you’ve done more than you think you have. And that’s usually the best part about working with people because they realize that they think they don’t have any experience. And they totally do. And it’s so valuable and so much fun to kind of pull that out of everybody.

 

Kim  

That’s awesome. Okay, so just reiterate that those points, you have typos, yes. And then you have the humble brag, or just yet brag.

 

Lauren  

A good way to put it just brag, you don’t even have to be you can be modestly humble about it. But definitely, brag because this is the time to do so because your competition is bragging, there is somebody else who is not afraid to brag. So you got to make sure that you are able to brag too. But yes, typos and bragging. 

 

Kim  

And then after the interview, should I send a thank you letter or email and then to I send it to each person on the interview panel or just the principal? And then, another three-parter here,  What should I say?

 

Lauren  

Yes, so always send a follow-up. One of the first articles I ever wrote for other publications was for this career site, The Muse, and this is what they asked me to write about was the importance of follow up emails. Because, yes, following up is just a total sign of respect and professionalism. But these days, I would do it via email. If you do it via actual snail mail, it’ll be a while so just send it via email. 

 

To answer your second question, I would send it at least your first follow up email within hours of your interviews, or at least that same day. And I would send that thank you email to the entire interview panel, including the principal. However, after the initial follow up email, I would remove the panel. And if you want to follow up with the principal, maybe a few weeks later, just say, Hey, you know, just checking in, have you made a hiring decision yet, I’m still very interested in the position, blah, blah, blah, at that point, the second follow up, I would remove the panel and just follow up with the principal because there is no need to unnecessary clog everybody’s inboxes with these follow up emails. 

 

But in terms of what you want to say, you do, obviously want to thank them for their time. But I would then go one step further and personalize it by trying to recall something that was mentioned in the interview, such as maybe a specific initiative that they said that they wanted your help on or something that they lacked in their classroom right now that they feel like you could help them with. 

 

You could also even, like, stay out of the kind of professional realm and mention a just common interest that you share, and may be discussed when you were kind of breaking the ice at the beginning where they asked you like, so what are you doing for the summer, they say, I’m going to Denver, Colorado, or I’m going to go, you know, whitewater rafting or something, you could say, like, you know, thank you and PS Enjoy your vacation to Colorado. Like anything like that would just show that you were paying attention and show you were engaged the entire time. And that, you know, most people are not one, even going to take the time to send a follow-up email, so a lot like your cover letter. If you’re going to take the time to send the follow-up email, make sure that it’s a memorable one. And you add just a little bit of personalization, and then you will be good to go.

 

Kim  

You will stand out. I’d love that. So being a resume writer, I know that you have different services that could help my audience and even me, now that I’m thinking about this because I haven’t touched my resume in years. And I am also even as someone who’s been teaching for 18 years, and I think I’m a little too humble as well. And it’s hard to contextualize everything that I’ve done into bullet points in the third person. So could you tell us more about the services that you provide?

 

Lauren  

Absolutely. So we have kind of two buckets at Launchpoint Resume. So I would say my most popular service because it’s just the most involved is the one-on-one services that I offer. So this is where I am working one-on-one with the client or the job seeker in a sense to rewrite their resume, create a cover letter, and basically just create a whole entire professional portfolio that helps them stand out. 

 

We really dive deep into their past work history, their accomplishments, and what they feel like they bring to the table value wise, but we also kind of discuss what their career goals are now and in the future, because the more that I know about that, the better I can tailor the resume for them. So those one-on-one services, where is a professional resume writer and writing the resume for them with their input and their cover letter is one of my most popular services. 

 

But I would say in the second bucket, I have a few digital products that are very, very popular with the younger demographic because people our age kind of really just like to have that little nudge, and then they feel like they can do it themselves. So I created right at the end of last year, a digital product that’s called the Weeknight Resume Builder. And it is exactly like it sounds a DIY resume builder that is aimed at people who want to write a resume for from scratch or even update there, you know, clunker that they’re working with now. They want to be able to update that in a few hours after work. 

 

So it essentially gives them in this little ebook fashion all of the tools that I use with my consultation clients, give them resume examples, it gives them resume templates that they can use them work well and ATS software. And they can go through and work on it step by step have both the builder and their own resume up side by side in their browser and just update in one weekend. 

 

So that’s one of the services and then the whole, like I mentioned before we put resume templates out on Etsy as well. And they’re just super popular because sometimes people feel like their content is great. And they just want to make sure that it looks a little better. And so at that point, they just download the ETSY template and put their resume into this template, and they’re good to go. And I’ve gotten some really good feedback on that. And that’s only been within the last couple months where I’ve realized that that is something that would really help people and it has. So yes, one-on-one services and digital products. That’s really how we help job seekers stay competitive.

 

Kim  

Now, can I kind of do an a-la-carte here where I get a digital service, or the digital ebook, the Weeknight Resume Builder, and then I tried to DIY, but then I’m like, I just want to make sure it’s going to be okay. Could I do that as separate? Or is that an official one-on-one service package?

 

Lauren  

No, you can do that separately. Because sometimes people like you said, You’re right; they just want an extra set of eyes. And so we just kind of have this like strategy session essentially is what I call it. So we can either get on the phone, or we can do like a virtual video chat, we can kind of run through it. And I can just kind of look at it with my professional eyes and make sure that it’s you know, performing to the best of its ability. But yeah, that’s a definitely an a la carte action option that they could add. Awesome.

 

Kim  

Oh my goodness, Lauren. So much awesome stuff today, so much value for new teachers coming in the field you do so much for, obviously, for everyone with their resume, but you have no idea what kind of impact is going to have on future teachers and on kids in their classroom. So I really appreciate you taking the time to do this.

 

Lauren  

Yeah, it’s been so fun. I’m so nerdy about resumes that I could talk about it for hours. So it’s really fun. And your questions are so thorough. So I very much appreciate it. It’s been awesome.

 

Kim  

Now, I know that my audience is going to want to get ahold of you. So where can they hook up with you online?

 

Lauren  

Yeah, so you can find everything that we were talking about in service wise, at on my website, which is Launchpointresume.com. Launchpoint Resume is also on Facebook, and you can just search Launchpoint Resume, and then on Etsy as well. 

 

But if you want to get in contact with me in particular, you can chat and say hey with me on Twitter, because I’m always responding to people who are messaging me because sometimes I write articles for other publications. And they’ll ask me additional questions about the article, and we can chat there as well. 

 

But if you do follow me on Twitter, just fair warning, in addition to the career advice, I’m going to be you’ll see a lot of tweets about Big Brother because that’s my favorite show in the summer. I tend to tweet a lot about Philadelphia sports teams because that’s where I’m from. So you’ll just have to see all that stuff kind of intermixed with the career stuff. But just say hi to me on Twitter.

 

Kim  

 And what’s your handle over at Twitter?

 

Lauren  

It’s la_hamer. 

 

Kim  

Awesome. Well, thank you again. Lauren for being on the podcast. I can’t wait to have you back again.

 

Lauren  

Yes, definitely. We can chat about so much more. Thank you.

 

Kim  

Yep. That was awesome, wasn’t it? I bet you want to listen to this again. But if you’re driving, you want to listen to it when you can sit down and take notes, because I can’t believe how much I went through with Lauren and how awesome she is and how valuable this conversation is. I mean, it’s making me want to revamp my resume you guys because you just never know when something will come along, and I want to be ready for it. So here are some of my key takeaways from Lauren. 

 

First, we have to talk about format. Because I know that we like cute things, we like pretty things we like our worksheets to look amazing. But writing a resume, that is not the time to make your resume look cute. If you remember what she said there’s software now, it’s basically you know, a robot that is scanning your resume. And if it can’t read it, then you’re not even going to get the job is just going to be rejected. How much would that suck if you couldn’t even get to an interview because your resume was too cute and pretty and wasn’t formatted properly. 

 

So let’s remember that the resume isn’t about you. It’s first about the robot that’s going to be reading the resume. And second, the human who gets it after that. So I like Lauren’s suggestion that if you get to the interview process, bring a copy of your pretty resume so that they can look at it then. So if you are really hung up on it, and you’re like I don’t like this ugly plain resume, you kind of have to get over it just for the application submission process. And then you can go ahead and make one that’s really pretty. 

 

Another key point that I want to reiterate is that your resume does not need to be one page long, and that is a huge myth. I mean, think about it, why would you want to keep out information that is important about you? Your future administrator wants to know all the good stuff about you so they can make the most educated decision. So they want to know everything that you’ve done, everything that you’ve accomplished, even classes that you’ve taken that are pertinent to the job. So don’t leave that stuff out. So don’t worry about you know, resume length and trying to cram it in there so that it’s like way too tiny, worry about making sure that the content is relevant, and really showcases your strengths. That’s how you stand out. And that’s how you’re going to get the interview. 

 

Finally, I really agree with Lauren on having a cover letter, especially when she described what you should put in a cover letter. And you know, your resume is pretty dry. It’s written in the third person, and it just has a bunch of bullet points. It’s not very eloquent, and it doesn’t showcase your personality or your teaching style. And the cover letter is the time to really show them who you are so that they’re thinking, you know what, I have to have this person come in and interview I want to meet this person because they sound like they would be a good fit. 

 

So use the cover letter as a time to really let them know, you know, are you spunky? Are you more serious? Are you really passionate about, you know, being inclusive? Let them know, in your cover letter and don’t skip out on it. 

 

Now, I personally am going to revamp my resume after this conversation. I just really feel like I need to fix it. So here’s the thing. I really, really like Lauren’s Weeknight Resume Builder, you know, it’s an E-book. And this way, you can kind of DIY it yourself in the beginning. And you know, get started on your resume. You can still take everything from this conversation that I had with Lauren to help you. But the ebook that she wrote is a lot more detailed, I had a chance to take a look at it, and it’s very much step by step, and it doesn’t take a long time. But the value of getting this ebook is that you’ll know exactly what to put and where. So if you’re like, I still don’t really know what to put in the skill section or what it should look like or where it goes, that’s what this ebook is for. So if you head on over to teachersneedteachers.com/resume, that’s going to take you over to the Weeknight Resume Builder so you can go ahead and purchase that there. 

 

She also mentioned that she has resume templates over on Etsy. And these can also be used so that your resume is scannable with that ATS system, which is really, really important. Remember, if your resume can’t even be scanned by the system, it’s not going to move on to the next process, you won’t even get an interview. So you know, if you want to DIY it both with the book and with the templates, you can head on over to teachersneedteachers.com/resume. 

 

Now, if you’re someone like me who’s been teaching a little bit longer, and you’re listening to this podcast, and you still want to, you know, brush up on your resume, and you just kind of want to revamp it a little bit, then she also has those services, which I highly recommend. And if you’re a career changer completely, like you’re thinking about maybe not being in the classroom, and you want to do something more on the consultant side, then she has a complete just like makeover resume, you know, redo, which I think is really awesome because we don’t necessarily know what to say at this point. We don’t even know how to put down the things that we’ve accomplished and done and the kinds of skills that we’ve had. So I love that at Launchpointresume.com there are so many different services that she offers, depending on where you are in your career. But for you guys specifically, I really recommend the Weeknight Resume Builder, that’s a really really good place to start. So again, that website is teachersneedteachers.com/resume. 

 

So thank you so much for taking the time today to listen to this. I really hope that you’re going to take action on this and bump up your resume reformat it said it’ll be scalable so that you can get that perfect job, and I hope you have a fabulous week.