02/05/2013 by Molly Donovan |

Resume Buzzwords for Independent School Teachers

Your resume is likely the first thing you created when you began your job search. Updating it can be daunting: as your career grows, so does your list of accomplishments.

top of resume with objective and address

How do you highlight your achievements while keeping the document readable, engaging, and concise?  How do you ensure you stand out?

More than a rote list, your resume should be a dynamic example of who you are and what you’ve done in your career.  You might have heard the advice before: make sure action words pepper your resume.

If you’re pursuing a teaching or administrative role in an independent school, what kind of action words really jump out?  Here are a few to keep in your arsenal.


On your resume, make sure you use a strong word to highlight any instances in which you’ve designed, developed, or created something.  Potential employers aren’t looking for employees who follow the status quo; rather, they’re intrigued by candidates who’ve expressed creativity and leadership capacity in their previous positions.

Example: “Spearheaded launch of 1:1 iPad program,” vs. “Helped begin 1:1 iPad program.”


In many schools, the ability to work well with others is just as important as individual successes.  Teachers and administrators in independent schools are very much parts of a larger community.  Successful educators will work well with their colleagues, with school leadership, with parents, with students, and with alumni.  Use your resume to demonstrate your connection with others and your ability to work as part of a team to achieve a larger goal.  The word “collaborated” indicates an ability to work with others and accomplish tangible results.

Example: “Collaborated with parents to form anti-bullying task force,” vs. “Participated on anti-bullying committee.”


At an independent school—and particularly at a boarding school—you will be a teacher or administrator as well as a coach, mentor, and friend.  As a teacher, you are offering your knowledge to students, yes, but you are also offering your advice and leadership.  Use the word “advise” to show hiring contacts that you took an active role in leveraging your interests outside the classroom to contribute positively to a school’s environment—whether as a club adviser, a college counselor, or a mentor to students.

Example: “Advised 11th grade students regarding college admissions essays,” vs. “Worked with 11thgrade students on college admissions essays.”


A teacher or administrator in an independent school should constantly push for improvement.  Use your resume to demonstrate that you are a thoughtful, conscientious, and proactive member of a school’s community.  You should display a certain knowledge of and interest in 21st century educational trends, and you should share with schools your personal experiences regarding these trends and initiatives.

Example: “Investigated the implications of game-based learning when developing 9th grade curriculum” vs. “Used games when teaching 9th graders.”

Bonus: Interests

When faced with the need to pare down your resume—the margins are already as tiny as is acceptable, and you’re dangerously close to needing reading glasses to make out the text—it can be easy to cross off the “interests” section at the bottom.  But don’t!  Schools will have their pick of eager, knowledgeable 21st century teachers.  But they’re looking for individuals: people who can contribute in unique ways to the school’s community.

So keep a (short) list of your interests at the end of your resume—and the quirkier the better.  Your passion for French cinema or your experience leading Outward Bound could catch a hiring contact’s eye and distinguish you from your peers.

One caveat: don’t be boring.  If you’re a history teacher and your interests are “reading, American history, and playing with my dog,” then you’re probably not turning any heads.


Your resume is not just another document you have to send.  Make it a dynamic, communicative document that shows how you’ve taken action throughout your career.  Let it help you get hired!

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