Resume Writing Tips for School Leaders
Updated: Mar 15
Though I am not a 'resume writer', I review them often to assess lived experience and how they align with an organization. Often, I find myself coaching talented school leaders, from novice to experienced, on how to best present their educational philosophy, identities, expertise, and impact that highlights their added value to an institution on paper, and will intrigue hiring managers to initiate a conversation. So below are my 5 cents to make your resume stand out.
Spotlight your impact. Responsibilities in a position are expectations you should know and practice daily, but they are not your impact. Your impact is qualitative and quantitative accomplishments, results, and new initiatives achieved based on your performance. An example would be, 'increased staff retention by 20% by piloting career pathway program and redesigning salary compensation scale.' This statement highlights your accountability to fully own and deliver exceptional work that has allowed your team, school community, and the organization to meet or exceed specific goals. Please note that your 'impact' does not list descriptives from job descriptions (an expectation). It answers those descriptives.
List your duration at specific campuses. Listing a general school network creates ambiguity about your experience (including school academics, culture, and student outcomes). Sharing the campus name gives employers more context to understand how those experiences align with their model, beliefs, or strategy -- as schools, no matter what district or network, all perform differently. Now, I understand that there are reservations about sharing employment duration at each campus as it can have a stigma on a commitment to a role or flexibility to learning new practices. I'm not going to lie; employers look at this. But good hiring managers know when to look beyond learned biases and assess for candidate match. They also know which schools need more work than others. Transparency from both the employer and candidate provides meaningful context and helps to establish trust.
Include language and affiliations that highlight your identity. If you have not noticed, I focus on finding diverse school leaders that reflect their students to increase appreciation about the value of their identities. So, include HBCUs, predominately BIPOC social and professional affinity groups, social impact work, and language that express the importance of self-pride and collective responsibility to inspire and create access for marginalized groups. Given our current social and political climate, organizations are looking to increase the diversity of their staff that genuinely reflects our evolving society. This is an asset!
Organize your experience in chronological order. You want employers to clearly understand your career trajectory that reduces wonders about what you've done from past to current, or mapping out that process.
Spell check and proofread your resume. A simple, important, but often overlooked act that represents you and your attention to detail. We are all busy leaders that require a pause button to reflect, slow down, and process how we are perceived. The same level of investment in physical appearance and face-to-face engagement should be the same level of investment in your paper/virtual identity. Believe me, that time pays off.
I hope my perspective was helpful and that you'll spend my donated cents wisely! :)