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What do employers look for in a Resume

What do employers look for in a Resume

In order to land a job, the first barrier you must overcome will most definitely be a resume. A casual internet search will reveal some pretty scary info, such as the statistic that most recruiters and hiring managers will only ever spend seconds looking at an applicant's CV or resume. Yet, in stark contrast, a professional resume is exceptionally time-consuming to write. It would seem, thus, that a job applicant isn't getting much from their hard work.

But is it really so?

No, not really. The trick is to spend time and polish your resume so it will capture the employer's attention in those scant few seconds as they glance it over. To figure out some best practices for your CV, specifically for SEN roles, continue reading!

What are the top qualities SEN employers look for and what to include when applying for special education roles?

Before we get onto the nitty-gritty of building your resume, we will lay some groundwork on what SEN employers are looking for in an applicant. Many of these qualities can also be demonstrated through the way you build and organise your resume.

Working in SEN will involve working with children with special educational needs and disabilities. Thus, the requirements to get a role in the sector are a bit more rigorous than for regular teachers. They also vary in regards to your experience level.

For an entry level role, SEN employers will look most closely at your credentials, meaning you will be required to have or be working towards a QTS (qualified teacher status). This can be gained through university courses, with many bachelor's degrees offering modules leading to a QTS. If you already have a degree, you can seek out PGCE (postgraduate certificate in education) courses that lead to a QTS. If you already have extensive teaching experience but no QTS, you can instead do an assessment-only route to a QTS.

Experience and motivation are the other two things SEN employers look for. You can prove these by seeking out voluntary roles that have to do with caring for children. These roles, while unpaid, will show that you care for more than just a paycheck and will provide you with a plethora of transferable and specific skills, not to mention work experience, that will look great on your resume!

Organisation and attention to detail are skills that will always be in demand. An easy way to demonstrate them is by having a professional looking resume, which will be addressed below.

The importance of keywords in your CV

Since employers will only spend 30 seconds skimming your CV, you need to impress and do it quick. A lot of employers will also utilise specialised software to look for specific keywords related to the skills advertised as necessary on the job listing. By researching (insert link to How to make the right career choice in 2021 article) the employer and the job listing, you can get ahead by including the right words for the right job in your resume.

Organise these keywords under skills using bullet points. A good way to go about it is to format your resume something like this:

Relevant Job Title/University Course/etc.

  1. specific skill
  2. brief (one sentence) description of your duties

Keep in mind you should format the job titles according to the role as well. If possible, you should utilise specific wording when describing your job title. Rather than stating you have been a ‘Teacher', state you have been a ‘Teaching Assistant for a SEN School'.

A good way of showing you are an organised individual is to format your resume to be neat, easy to read and follow a clear progression. Always start with your most recent job, working down your employment history, but only including relevant jobs. Education usually goes at the end of your resume, but that can depend if you are a recent graduate without proper work experience. Use an easy-to-read font such as Arial or Calibri. Leave enough white space between lines, double spacing if necessary, to make the document look as neat and easy on the eyes as possible. Also, try to keep your resume up to two pages long. Anything more than that will seem like embellished information or show a lack of ability to discern relevant information from irrelevant.

What you shouldn't include in your resume

We have listed good resume and CV practices above, and while there is leeway with implementing all of them, there are some practices that should generally be avoided, or are suggested to be avoided.

Typos are probably the most important thing to watch out for. It is incredibly difficult for a person to catch their own typos, and typos exude an air of unprofessionalism and lack of care for the role or your future. All in all, very much a clear sign you will be a bad match for any role. Ask some friends or colleagues to check your resume for you before applying. If you are a student, you can also contact your university's careers branch, as many universities offer free advice to their students to help get their careers kickstarted.

An unreadable, or boring format. It has been mentioned above when referring to proving your organisational skills, but the importance of a good resume design cannot be overstated. It needs to be eye-catching, but easy on the eye. The advice above can help you reach that point with your resume. However, always remember the few basic elements of a bad-looking resume: too small or too big of a font, ugly or unprofessional font, lack of spacing between lines and walls of text.

Large gaps between jobs can be a red flag for employers. Employers tend to look for workers who are punctual and able to maintain jobs for a decent amount of time, preferably over the years. However, sometimes gaps cannot be avoided, and in those cases, you can write an explanation for the gaps either in the resume or in your cover letter. This way, your employers will at least know of the circumstance behind those gaps.

Building a resume can seem daunting, and it is definitely a lot of work, but it comes down to exploiting some easy tips and tricks. Keep in mind the best things to include in a resume: specific skills and experience, bullet points, keywords and proper formatting; and you should be fine.

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