You might be a new teacher, an experienced professional or someone looking to change careers. You might be looking for lecturer jobs or a college management role. Whatever your goals, if you want to work in further education you need to make both your CV and your interview count.
You on paper
For the basics of effective CV writing, start with a good book or online resource. It will help you create a clear, concise and readable CV and should give you templates for both skills-based CVs (which are sometimes better for new teachers) and chronological CVs.
Instead of seeing your CV as a summary of your life, think of it as a list of good reasons to hire you. With this in mind, take a careful look at the job description, the college and its Ofsted report. What are their objectives and what sort of person are they looking for? You need to match your skills and experiences to those needs, showing what you’ve done – or would be able to do – to help the college meet their objectives. It helps if you focus on your achievements and the impact of your actions rather than your responsibilities, describing them with strong, positive words such as ‘developed’, ‘led’, ‘managed’, ‘achieved’ and ‘motivated’.
Spend time getting your profile or summary right. This comes at the top of your CV, between your contact details and your work experience or education. It should be short (around 5-10 lines) and, although it can summarise your main skills/experience, it’s also a good chance to give the reader a sense of you as a person, by including your qualities, values or motivations.
Think about whether your outside interests or skills are relevant. If you’re good at sport, have strong IT skills, are interested in the environment or do voluntary work, it can boost your employability.
And remember – every job is different, so your CV should be too. If you tailor it to every job you apply for, it will sound fresh, relevant and much more appealing to each potential employer.
Many potential employers will check you out online, including on social media. It goes without saying that you should make sure there’s nothing inappropriate out there, but you could also turn this to your advantage by showing that you’re contributing to education debate and knowledge. For example, you could upload presentations, case studies or textbook reviews.
You in person
So your CV has done its work and you’ve been invited for interview. Once again, you need to make your mark – this time in person. Here are some tips to help you land the job:
Research. Find out even more about the college – not just from its own website and Ofsted reports, but also from sources such as local papers and forums. They’re often a good way of finding out how the college is seen by students, parents and the media. You could also do some research on the people who’ll be interviewing you – there may be profiles or background information online.
Read up on some education issues before your interview. It’s probably sensible to steer clear of contentious topics, but a discussion of a broad issue shows you’re interested and have done your research.
Prepare. Read through the job description carefully, reminding yourself how your skills or experience match. While you can’t prepare for every possible question, some common ones include ‘Tell us about yourself’, ‘What are your main strengths and weaknesses?’ and ‘Why do you want this job?’ It’s also worth having an answer ready for less obvious questions, such as ‘What are the main qualities students look for in teachers?’, ‘Can you demonstrate any practice of equality and diversity?’ or ‘What does an outstanding lesson look and sound like?’
Relax. That’s easier said than done, but try to see the interview as a conversation rather than an interrogation. It’s fine to pause before you answer a question, or to ask someone to explain what they mean. Have a couple of good questions ready at the end – and if these prepared questions have already been covered, just ask the interviewer to expand. It shows you’ve been listening and are interested.
Good luck with your FE job search. If you don’t land the job, it’s all good practice for next time and if you’re successful, congratulations: enjoy your new role.
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