A common occurrence among graduates and Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) is an experience of ‘imposter syndrome’. Those feelings of self-doubt despite recent achievements: ‘I’ve graduated! Everyone is saying ‘well done!’ But am I really ready for the ‘real world’? How can I get a job without loads of experience?’ You may be sitting in front of a blank page wondering how to get started with writing your graduate teaching CV.
In our current series of blogs, we are exploring the excellent opportunities that roles in education can offer new graduates. Schools are, by their nature, nurturing environments where collaboration and professional development are embedded in the working culture.
Those working in education are always learning and evolving professionally. It is a profession that can help graduates develop a huge range of transferable skills including organisation, communication and teamwork. For these reasons, many graduates are considering roles in education as the first step in their careers.
Having said that, schools may feel quite daunting places to gain experience in. You are likely to remember your own teachers and support staff. They seemed almost superhuman… Capable of being in three places at once! And they knew everything, didn’t they?
So where do you start as a graduate interested in roles in education? What’s step one for NQTs looking for that first teaching role?
You must start with a decent graduate teaching CV of course! Read on for our guidance on creating the perfect cv for teacher role application. We have consulted countless teacher CV templates and CV examples to compile 5 key tips for putting your first graduate teaching CV together:
If you are are a more experienced teacher looking for CV tips, click here
1. Use a clear structure
It may be that this is the first CV you have put together, so we’ll start with the basics. Keep your CV to a maximum of 2 pages in length and give it a clear structure that makes sense to your potential new employer. Some graduates try to make up for a lack of experience with pages and pages of background info. Short and sweet is best.
The basic structure for your 2 page CV should be:
- Name & contact details
- A personal statement
- Your education & achievements
- Extra-curricular interest and achievements
Stick to a 12pt size and a simple font throughout (Times New Roman if printed and Arial if your CV will be read on a screen – they tend to be the clearest in these formats).
You want to make sure it’s the words you choose that catch the attention, not the presentation – including ‘I’m amazing!’ in bold and 48 size font isn’t going to help.
Use bold to highlight headings and help break up your CV sections, but avoid using it to highlight keywords (e.g. don’t do what I have done in this sentence!)
2. Writing your first personal statement
This is arguably the most important section on any graduate’s CV. It’s also the first thing your potential new employers will read.
Your personal statement is where you can talk about your aspirations, personal qualities and motivations. Your passion is not linked to your experience levels, so this is the perfect place to show off what you have to offer professionally.
Choose every word carefully here, and keep it down to 3-4 sentences in length. It’s also advisable to tailor your personal statement to the job you are applying for.
In your personal statement, make sure you summarise:
- Where you are at in your career
- Your personal qualities
- Your key achievements to date
CV example personal statement: ‘I am a recent graduate with a 2:1 in History from Leeds University seeking a graduate role in education. During my time at university, I developed excellent time-keeping and problem-solving skills. I work well under pressure and am passionate about supporting others in understanding the subject. As well as the above skills I have experience mentoring first-year students in study skills.’
3. Choosing the right vocabulary to reflect a graduate CV
Using the right vocabulary in your CV will help give it that boost to stand out from the pile. Have a look into keywords that are linked to your chosen role and subject specialism, e.g. primary KS2, secondary science, SEN TA. Using relevant terms will help your CV to be found through online searches.
During your time at university, extra-curricular activity or volunteer work experience it is likely that you will have developed and used a wide range of useful skills. Make sure you refer to these and demonstrate where and when you used them:
- Communication skills
- Critical thinking
- Work ethic
- Time management
4. Extra-Curricular Interests
We’re not necessarily talking about your love of travel or passion for pot plants here. Importantly, when including your interests in a graduate teaching CV, make sure they are relevant to a school and could potentially be brought in to inspire students.
Schools are very interested in having a diverse & interesting staff team to spark pupils’ imagination in a variety of different ways. If you have a love for learning languages, are mad about musicals or get a kick out of sport, running or environmental issues curiosity and conversation is likely to be sparked at the interview stage.
5. Explain any gaps in your Graduate Teaching CV
Make sure you include an explanation for any gaps in your education history. For example, ‘time at home due to caring responsibilities’ ‘break from education due to time spent travelling’.
Leaving any blanks will be picked up by schools and could be flagged as a safeguarding concern, so check through for a steady flow of dates. If you have progressed straight from school into university then this is unlikely to be an issue. However, make sure to mention any productive activity that you kept busy with during the summer holidays.
Thank you for reading Prospero’s ‘CV Writing Advice for Graduates and NQTs.’ We hope you find it helpful in writing your first graduate teaching CV. To summarise:
- Keep it clear and simple
- Make your graduate teaching CV individual by including a personal statement
- Focus on your professional skills, experience and responsibilities.
- Keep your education and experience summary achievement-focused
- Make use of role-related keywords
Are you a graduate seeking work as a teaching assistant? Are you an NQT looking out for your first teaching role?
As a recent graduate you have a lot to offer schools. If you are keen and enthusiastic you will be in high demand.
You could find graduate opportunities in education linked to your degree specialism (especially in maths, science, English and humanities). Your knowledge in these curriculum areas could be used to support 1:1 sessions in your subject specialty.
Your recent experience in taking exams will be beneficial to the role. It’s likely that practicing ‘exam technique’ and tackling exam questions with your group will form part of your sessions. Breaking questions down, revising key info to gain ‘easy marks’ and familiarising students with different question types helps build confidence in students. These skills are necessary for students whether taking their KS2 SATs or their GCSEs.
Prospero Teaching is actively seeking Graduate Teaching Assistants to support in schools across the UK.
See our graduate roles here.
If you would like to register as a graduate looking for work then complete our registration form here.