Recruitment: How to be First amongst Equals

Often, a school leader or senior educationalist will be so invested in their career and current position that they will be relatively unaccustomed with creating CVs or applying for new jobs. Consequently, many educators struggle with job applications despite being very well qualified and having a significant breadth of expertise. It is imperative to learn the craft of presenting yourself on paper if you are hoping to climb the career ladder, or even if you are a consultant looking to attract new clients. At Educate, we place a diverse range of individuals in a variety of very senior posts within the education sector and, as such, handle a large number of applications. Below is brief guide outlining some of the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ – to bear in mind when applying for new leadership or executive roles.

Formatting your CV

First and foremost, it is vital to make sure that you have a well-formatted CV that is readily accessible and easy for others to read. Above all, the layout should be consistent as well as clearly and carefully laid out. To begin with, make sure that your CV does not look too cluttered; if you fill each page with too much information then it might come across as messy and overcrowded. This could prove to be off-putting for anyone reading it, such as a panel looking to recruit.  One way to achieve this is to use lots of white space and to adjust your line spacing so that your sentences do not look too closely packed together.  Generally, it is best not to put photographs into your CV as this usually comes across as unprofessional. Simple fonts, such as Times New Roman or Calibri, are the best choice to use when typing up a CV on your computer. Sticking to black ink is also advisable. Always double or triple check your spelling and grammar – professionals working in the education sector usually have backgrounds in teaching so will be very critical of such mistakes.

The Content of your CV

It is important to be concise when drawing together the content of your CV. Confining your CV to two pages is a good way to exemplify your analytical abilities as you will be proving that you can select the most appropriate information from a set of data. You may wish to begin it with a brief opening paragraph, which summarises your main areas of experience. This mini-profile may outline your main specialisms and immediately inform your reader as to which sector you have the most experience in. For example: are you the member of a school’s Senior Management Team, within the Secondary sector, directly responsible for pupil welfare and pastoral care? Or maybe, you are a Deputy Head at a BESD/SEN school in charge of curricula design and the teaching syllabus?

It should be possible for readers to see an easily identifiable thread showing where you have progressed in your professional life and why you have chosen certain directions.  Normally, such readers will want to immediately be able to see what you are currently up to; writing out your employment history in reverse chronological order is the best way to convey these facts quickly. After writing out each position that you have held, it is perfectly acceptable to use bullet points when referring to your specific role, responsibilities and notable achievements.

Particularly in the education sector, a potential new employer or client will expect you to address any reasons as to why you might have breaks in your employment history and you should never leave any unexplained gaps. Throughout your career as an educator, you are likely to have accumulated several qualifications and attended various CPD courses. However, this should not take the centre-stage of your CV: it should be limited to a supplementary half-page left until last.

Supporting Statements

Typically, you will be expected to submit a supporting statement alongside any new job application. Virtually all schools and similar institutes will supply a detailed person specification as well as a job description when advertising a leadership opportunity. A supporting statement should provide you with a good opportunity to demonstrate how your own experience will enable you to carry out the duties and tasks referred to in the job description. The main purpose of your supporting statement should be to help you get your foot through the door and get to the interview stage, where you can sell yourself by explaining the relevance of your experience in more depth. Therefore, in your supporting statement you should be showing – in a very precision fashion – how you specifically meet the requirements of the person specification. Avoid making unsubstantiated claims by using evidence to back up the assertions that you have made regarding your suitability for a new post.  

Educational establishments all have their own identity and the strongest supporting statements will show an acute awareness of this. To make sure that your supporting statement stands out from the rest, you should present an understanding and appreciation of the unique ethos and vision of the school or organisation that you are expecting to join. For instance: how will your character fit into an established school community or how does your experience make you suitable for leading an academy with a certain, subject specialism?

Essentially, your CV or supporting statement is a marketing tool – so be confident about your skill set and capabilities, keep it simple and leave nothing unaccounted for.

Conor Bollins – Research Associate, Educate Career Support

Contact Conor to discuss your next career move, to find out more about what opportunities might currently be available for you or or to receive more guidance on how to market yourself.

0203 422 6511