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What should an online teacher's resume and cover letter look like?

Question:
I have applied for an online teaching job, and the school has asked me to send a resume and cover letter. This will be the first teaching job I've ever applied for, so I'm wondering if you could provide some tips for designing my resume and cover letter? I appreciate your insights! Sue

Subject

Answer:

Congratulations, Sue! It sounds as if your application was strong enough to merit a closer look at what you can contribute as an online teacher, so that's great news! Your question is a good one. Regardless of your qualifications, a poorly written and designed resume and cover letter can keep you from ever getting to the next step. In the case of a prospective teacher's resume, it's even more important that you demonstrate professionalism, knowledge of subject matter, ability to motivate, achievement of necessary qualifications, an understanding of the job and a strong desire to teach.

Resume tips for online teachers

Of course, every teaching job, school, course and subject matter is different, and each has a lot to do with the content of your resume. But in general, here are a few tips:

  • Focus on keywords. Look at the job description and qualifications required from the school's website. Is the focus on professional or academic experience? What are the degree or preparation requirements? A Ph.D? An MBA? Some other certification or degree? These sorts of keywords should definitely make an appearance.
  • Use a CV. Academic positions generally call for a curriculum vitae as opposed to a resume. The difference is that a CV is a more comprehensive picture of you as a professional, scholar, community member and contributor to your field. Sections that a CV would include, which a resume likely wouldn't, might be "Speaking Engagements," "Publications," "Awards/Honors" or "Research." If you have an advanced degree, it's likely that you would have been published in a scholarly journal, participated in a research study or obtained some other useful and relevant experience.
  • Highlight teaching experience. The school will want to know if you're an experienced teacher. However, not having experience may not preclude you from consideration. Knowledge and experience in your professional field are becoming more and more important in career-focused online colleges. However, it's still important to highlight any experience you've had that showcases your ability to teach. For instance, have you worked as a trainer? Have you supervised a team and been responsible for mentoring employees? Have you conducted workshops?
  • Highlight online familiarity. Here's where the emphasis on online teaching jobs comes into play. Working as an online teacher demands a comfort level with technology and online communications. It's a good idea to demonstrate your understanding of these demands, and include any experiences in which you had to navigate technology, communicate frequently in an online environment and meet the challenges of working with people in different locations and time zones.
  • Focus your cover letter. This goes for any job -- employers really hate it when you don't emphasize how your strengths and experiences contribute to the job at hand. Here, it's critical to show how your skills translate to the online classroom, and no resume, on its own, can do that for you. Make the connection clear in the letter.
  • Proofread! This should also be a no-brainer, but when the job (online teaching) requires a large majority of the communication to be in writing, you'd better be able to show that you are a strong communicator. Go over it with a fine-tooth comb, and ask a few other people to do the same.

Good luck in your online teaching job search!

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