20 Tips For Writing Successful Paper, Digital, and Social Resumes

New Jersey Education Association

This week on the Jersey Educator Podcast, Jim Boice and Jeff Bradbury sat down for a candid discussion about how educators should be crafting their 2017 resumes. In this episode, we take a look at some key features that every resume should (or must) have and provide helpful tips for not only your “paper” resume but also your digital and social resumes as well.

This episode of the Jersey Educator Podcast can be found on iTunes and Stitcher Radio and is a companion episode to a previous show where we discussed 11 things every educator should be thinking about as they prepare for a job interview or job fair.

What is a Resume in 2018?

What is a resume . . . it's the age-old question that everyone has an answer for, but yet nobody has the right answer. Your resume in 2017 looks completely different than it did in 2007 and yet, has the format really changed? Yes and No

To set some standards for this post, I think we can all agree what a resume is. Your resume is a gateway through a conversation. It is a document designed to be handed to someone who is about to have a conversation with you. It is a professional yet concise way of showcasing your accomplishments in a format that allows your reader to (hopefully) select you above all other resumes in the stack and either create a positive situation that produces a phone call (for an interviewer) or a handshake and a contract.

In addition to your paper resume, we will also be digging into the additional parts that you can use to sell your unique individual brand, your website, and your social media presence to identify how you can create unique and eye-catching experiences that will be sure to land you in front of your future employer.

How to Write a Good Cover Letter

Your Cover Letter is generally one of, if not the first thing that someone sees when reviewing materials. Cover Letters should be crafted not only to provide a positive and well-rounded picture of you, but they should also provide knowledge that you have done a little bit homework about the position in which you are applying. Anyone can take a look at a Cover Letter and tell if it's a generic letter or not.

When hand mailing (or emailing) Cover Letters, they should always be addressed to the Superintendent and be professional. When attending a job fair, it is recommended that while prepping for the fair and seeking who will be there, create a cover letter for a few specific schools you know you will be interviewing at, but always have the basic generic one in your pocket for those schools you might not have planned to meet.

Should you put your Cover Letter on special paper? I think it's a good idea to do this when meeting people face to face, but the majority of your Cover Letters will probably be sent electronically.

Cover Letter Tips

  • Keep it simple
  • Keep it Professional
  • Spell Check … Spell Check … Spell Check
  • Point out some key spots in your resume that you want to draw their attention to

How Do I Write a Good Resume?

If your Cover Letter succeeds where you need it to, your Resume is the next item that should be designed to sell you above all others. The trick to any good Resume is brevity. It's easy to take a career, (short or long) and write a 6-page resume. The problem is that nobody will take the time to read it.

Your resume should be one page. Where we can debate on if this means one full sheet (front and back) or just a single side of a sheet is something we can leave for another blog post, it is important to craft, not write your resume.

A resume has a single purpose. It is a document designed to get your interviewer to bring up conversation topics. Normally, in an interview situation, your resume is in front of the person across the table and as they are going through their list of generic questions, they are looking through your resume trying to get you to talk about your experiences.

You don't have list everything you did on your resume, but you do have to make sure they see what you want them to see. There are a few standard sections to every resume. These may include Experiences, Awards and Recognitions, Background info, and Contacts. As with your Cover Letter, I suggest tailoring every resume to the position you are applying for.

In our age of digital and paper resumes, you may choose to have two different “paper” resumes. One that you hand to someone on actual paper, and then one that is sent as a PDF. The difference being that the digital document may include clickable hyperlinks to your online portfolio or other types of media you wish to bring attention to.

Resume Tips

  • Use your professional name . . . James, not Jim is always best.
  • Professional Emails and Web sites are always a step ahead of “@gmail” or “sites.google.com/…”
  • Don't write in words that would not make sense to others. If you are a manager, call yourself a manager. Do not add titles that make someone question what they are.

We are now living in a world where having an online destination is no longer an option for many job searches.

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Website vs Portfolio vs CV?

Before we go into answering the above question, take a moment and say these sentences out loud a few times:

  • Would you like to see my website?
  • Would you like to see my portfolio?
  • Would you like to see my CV?

Depending on the position you are applying for, you may choose a different one of these options to be your favorite. For example, when I'm talking about TeacherCast, I share my “website.” When someone is asking for a professional version of my past accomplishments, I share my “portfolio.” However, as a musician and musical professional, I would offer you the opportunity to take a look at my Curriculum Vitae “CV.”

Here are three examples of looking at similar information online:

These three items are slightly different yet based on the person or potential employer I'm speaking with, I would give them a different place to learn more about my background.

The important thing to remember is that we are now living in a world where having an online destination is no longer an option for many jobs. If you are looking to get hired in a place that relies primarily on Google Apps your website might be well suited on a Google Sites. If you are looking at a place that is Microsoft heavy, having your background info on a SWAY might not be a bad idea.

Online Portfolio Tips

  • Purchase your own domain name (yourname.com)
  • Create a story with your content that walks a reader through your story.
  • Have a clear call to action that attracts others to you above all others they are researching

Is Social Media Important?

One of the most important things you can do (in my opinion) takes time to figure out how Social Media works. I'm not saying that you must create the most popular Twitter account on the planet, but simply by having a twitter account and learning how to take advantage of how it works is one of the most important parts of being an educator these days. Twitter can and really should be thought of the worlds largest professional development conference on the planet that never goes to sleep.

By learning about hashtags, you can not only start to see the world as an ever-changing digital library but you will learn how to find just about any resource you need.

My advice for anyone in education is to not attack social media, but learn how to use it to your advantage. Figure out what hashtags fit your subject area. Learn the differences between a Facebook page and a Twitter profile. Learn the importance of joining a Google Plus community. All of these things are important parts of your PLN and can ultimately lead you to find new opportunities to share your resume.

Social Media Tips

  • Get a Twitter account and follow a few hashtags
  • Join a Google Plus community … or better yet, START ONE
  • Connect with others in your field and share resources
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions of those you don't know . . . they just may turn out to be lifelong friends

What really matters in the end is . . .

What really matters, in the end, is that you are comfortable with the documents you use while searching for your next career opportunity. It is often said that you never know when your next interview will happen. I have been fortunate over the last few years to have several amazing opportunities put in front of me without the need for a traditional paper resume and based mostly on my social and digital portfolios. It can not be overstated that you should take every advantage you can to showcase your talents on every platform available. Remember, these platforms are (just about) free and you should never past up opportunities to take advantage of FREE.

What do you think … please share your thoughts!

I would love to know what you think on this topic. I'm sure you might agree with some of what is written here and I'm sure you might disagree with some of these items. Personally, I have never been a position to really hire someone in a professional position. However, I have been asked to be on hiring committees where I had the opportunity to look over resumes and provide my opinion on someones potential to fill an open position.

Please take a moment below and leave a comment on your thoughts on this very important topic.


About the author, Jeffrey Bradbury

Jeff Bradbury, creator of TeacherCast, and father of the famous @EduTriplets Thanks for checking out TeacherCast today. Please take a moment to find me on all of my Social Media channels!