Even though the economy is improving (or so the incumbent politicians keep telling us!), the job market is still pretty challenging, particularly for those seeking a position as a Professional School Counselor. But don’t let that discourage you; there are things you can do to make your job search easier. Equally as important, there are things you can avoid doing. One important factor in your success is the way you present yourself on your resume (or curriculum vitae, as appropriate).
As noted before on this blog, making your resume and application stand out in a positive way will greatly increase your chances for getting an interview. (See https://www.thecounselinggeek.com/2013/04/interview-series-the-dreaded-paper-screen.html.) It’s the interview that provides the real opportunity for those in charge of hiring to learn about you and your unique personality, in order to determine whether you will be a good fit in that particular work environment. But the resume is important too; if your resume and cover letter do not reflect positively on you and your abilities, you most likely won’t get the interview in the first place.
That said, let’s look at some of the mistakes you should avoid on your resume – or your CV, as the case may be. (And if you’re wondering whether to send a resume or a CV, take a cue from the job posting. Rule of thumb is that in the US, a CV is generally appropriate for the applicant with a PhD or Masters degree, who is seeking a teaching or research position. While universities, colleges and research institutions usually require a CV, public and private schools will generally request a resume. Pay attention to the job posting and provide what is requested.)
Here are some things not to do on your resume:
1: Don’t miss the mark.
In other words, make sure your resume is congruent with the job listing. It’s amazing how many job applicants don’t read job postings carefully, or don’t seem to understand the actual job description or requirements for the position for which they are applying. Some apply for positions for which they are woefully under-qualified, or they frame their entire resume around a job objective or description that doesn’t match the posting at all. As you probably know, there are a number of different types of school counseling positions, and most schools are very specific about their requirements. So pay attention, and make sure the job you’re applying for is really one you want, and for which you’re qualified – and tailor your resume accordingly.
2. Don’t present a sloppy, disorganized, error-filled resume.
Even if you’re not applying for a job as an English teacher, you absolutely must come across as professional and organized. This is true in most job sectors but particularly so in education. A sloppy, disorganized, poorly spelled or awkwardly worded resume will leave a very bad impression and, unless the school has extraordinarily low standards, it will take you out of the running before you’ve even begun. So proofread your resume carefully, and just to be on the safe side, have someone you trust (and who knows spelling and grammar) look it over too.
3. Don’t lie or exaggerate.
Qualifications for being Professional School Counselor vary from state to state (see the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site for more information; the link is at the end of this post). Individual school districts will have their own requirements as well, and of course the requirements for different levels of education – primary, secondary, etc. – will vary. If you’re just getting started in your career as a Professional School Counselor you may not have a great deal of directly relevant work experience. This doesn’t mean that the work experience you do have is without value. And while you want to tailor your resume to the job requirements as much as possible, lying or embellishing will get you nowhere. Lying on one’s resume is one of the most common blunders that job seekers make; they almost invariably get caught, and the result is usually termination. Lying is a particularly egregious act if you’re applying for a job in education. As a Professional School Counselor you are expected to set an example for the next generation, and you will (or should) be held to an even higher standard of behavior than is the norm in some other industries. In short, integrity matters in a big way, so don’t lie.
4. Don’t make your resume read like a dry series of job descriptions.
You want to be truthful but not boring. Remember that your resume is a marketing piece for you. Rather than being a brain-numbing document that reads like a list of job descriptions and a boring history of what you did for someone else, your resume should sparkle a little and offer prospective employers a vision of what you can do for them. It should showcase what you actually accomplished in your previous jobs, internships, or even volunteer stints. Also remember that your cover letter can do some marketing for you, giving you an opportunity to “flesh out” some of the information that is on your formal resume.
Though you may get discouraged at times in your search for a position as a Professional School Counselor, don’t let this dim your passion for your chosen career. If you can’t find a suitable job opening in your area, consider relocating. Someone, somewhere is going to need your unique set of talents. Just make sure your resume reflects you in the best light possible.
For more information on careers in school counseling, see this page on the US government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics site:
For some insight on what you might expect at a job interview for a school counseling position, see this blog post, written from the perspective of an elementary school counselor.
Recommended relevant reads:
What Color Is Your Parachute? 2014: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers
CV Handbook: A curriculum vitae owner’s manual
This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from best people search. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com.