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Avoid these 5 common errors in your job applications

Posted by Simi Rai on Sunday, 7 April 2019
Simi Rai

Applying for a teaching job is a full-time job in itself. In today's competitive job market, landing your dream teaching or leadership position is no easy task.

It doesn't matter how qualified or experienced you are, your cover letter and resume really need to stand out if you want to land that interview. Especially, if you are competing against teachers with the same qualifications and experience.

To make sure your application shines and is noticed for the right reasons, try to avoid some of these common errors.

1. Highlight your accomplishments, not your duties

We all have responsibilities in our jobs, but by simply listing them, you are not showcasing your strengths. Instead, you should list your achievements and accomplishments when you were in that position of responsibility. These could include exceptional class exam results, school trips you organised independently, CPD sessions that you ran etc. Moreover, try to quantify your achievements, rather than using clichés like "team player" or "innovator" as these don't impress employers.

2. Be specific

Employers don’t have the time or patience to read lengthy résumés, so limit yours to two pages. Only include work history that is relevant to the job you are applying to (your employer doesn’t need to know what you did for work experience ten years ago). Similarly, be careful not to show sporadic employment as this can raise questions about your longevity in previous jobs and alarm them.


3. Know the position you are applying for

Make sure you have read all of the requirements of the job before submitting your application. Have you responded to all of their prerequisites? Have you addressed all of the skills they require? An employer will expect you to have read the job description thoroughly and know enough about the school, so conduct your research thoroughly and refer to this in your application, as this will further demonstrate your interest in the job.

4. Avoid the passive voice

Your resume is all the employer sees of you, so it needs to represent you confidently and command attention. Rather than using the passive voice, (“GCSE pupils exceeded their targets”), make your accomplishments active, (“All of my GCSE pupils exceeded their targets under my leadership”). Always use the first-person when speaking about yourself and try not to overdo the “skills” list unless you can support them with evidence.


5. Avoid those typos

Don’t rely on spell check to correct your errors because it does not recognise tense changes or homophones. “Your” should never be confused with “you’re” and your tenses should always remain the same – stick to either the past or present tense, but never both. Have a trusted friend or professional scrutinize your resume, cover letter or CV, even after you’ve checked it yourself 100 times. Your application needs a fresh pair of eyes!

Don’t forget that first impressions stick, so make sure your application is current, concise and relevant.

Unless prompted to do so, avoid including your salary requirements as you never know if you are asking for too much or too little, and don’t want to appear to be money focused.

Most importantly, showcase your skills and experience in a way that demonstrates what you can do for your employer, not what they can do for you. Your application should hint that they need you, more than you need them!



About our Community Expert


Simi Rai
Community Expert

Over 5 years of experience in educational settings throughout London, Madrid and Barcelona. Whilst studying English Literature and Language at King’s College London and the University of North Carolina, she fell in love with her subject - both the study of literature and craft of writing.

After graduating, she completed the Leadership Development Programme with Teach First, whose mission is to provide equality through education, and attained her PGCE in Secondary English at Canterbury Christ Church University. She was then appointed as Deputy Head of English at one of the highest performing schools in England in a London inner-city academy.

Following this, she completed her Leadership and Management MA at University College London (Institute of Education) and became the director of an English Language company based in Barcelona.

Topics: Teacher development


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