When you're the superintendent of a school district, you're likely to feel like Atlas, carrying the weight of the world -- and that's just your 9 to 5 gig, not even factoring in your other responsibilities at home. When you're applying to be the top dog and supervise principals, assistants and other staff, you'd better take the time to make sure your resume screams "Winner!" Among the things a school board is going to be looking for in a new hire: demonstrated leadership, solid instructional skills, good communication, a visionary outlook and good listening skills, advises the Great Schools website. Sound hard? It is -- but if you have most or all of these things, you'll just need to find a way to organize them and make your resume sparkle.
Learn as much as you can about the school district to which you're applying. Every resume you make needs to be tailored to the job at hand -- that's Job Search 101. Read the job posting and the district's website to get insight into the skills, personality traits and experience the district is looking for. This will help you set a certain tone throughout your resume that will match the district's expectations. Try to find out why the current superintendent is leaving; knowing that the predecessor butted heads with the school board or mismanaged funds might help you figure out a way to highlight how you're different.
Choose a font that is easy to read and not distracting, such as Times New Roman or Arial. You're applying for a superintendent job, not a job selling flowers, so don't make your resume look flowery. Stick with 12-point font size instead of a smaller font that will allow you to fit more on the page. Since you're applying for a professional job, you don't have to be worried about letting your resume go beyond one page. This is a big job, so the board and any other members of the hiring committee are less likely to be worried about traditional resume lengths and more concerned with seeing a clear picture of who you are.
Enter your full contact information at the top of the resume, including your name at the top, followed by your job title -- or desired job title -- address, phone numbers and email address. Center the information or justify it to the right or left of the page, and then make your name larger than the rest of the information, choosing 16- or 18-point font.
Type "Summary" or "Career Highlights" below your contact information. Choose a slightly larger font for each of your section titles. Then create a bullet-point list of the major accomplishments you've made in other supervisory or superintendent roles in the past that may be of interest to this district. If your research revealed that math scores are terrible in the district, you might list "Improved school math scores by 10 percent in one year" at the top of the list. If teacher retention has been a problem, you might include a statement such as "Increased staff retention by 25 percent." Managers' resumes should focus on performance, reminds the resume website Live Career, and in the wake of the No Child Left Behind Act, you know school boards are going to be concerned with accountability.
Type "Experience" or "Work Experience" as the heading for the next section. This is the section of the resume you're likely most familiar with, listing your past employment in reverse chronological order. Name the job title, then the employer, then the dates of employment in a bullet-point list. For each job, you'll want to also include a brief description of the position, while keeping in mind what the employer is looking for. Look for keywords the employer used in the job posting, such as leadership, effective staff management or contract negotiation, and try to integrate those keywords into your job descriptions, when appropriate. In any case, focus on results and action words instead of dry descriptions of the jobs you've done.
Type "Education" as the title of the next section, and then list your graduate and undergraduate degrees in reverse chronological order, listing the dates of completion and the degrees you earned. If you've completed other training programs related to your profession, decide whether you want to include them here, or to create another section below that titled "Professional Training" or "Continuing Education."
Type "Leadership" or "Community Involvement" as the next section header, and then list committees you've chaired or been part of, non-profit boards you've been on or other ways you've showed leadership in your community. If you haven't already served as a superintendent or principal elsewhere, this may be the way to demonstrate that you do indeed have the leadership experience necessary to land that superintendent job.
Type "Professional Affiliations" as the next section header, and then list any professional organizations to which you belong. Examples might include the National Education Association, the national branch of the Parent-Teacher Association, or the The Council of School Superintendents.
- Ask a trusted colleague to look over your resume after you've completed it, so she can give you feedback about additional things to include or ways to tweak the resume to the job at hand. Provide a copy of the job posting so your colleague will be familiar with the expectations of the new district. Or, work with a recruiter or job coach who can help you identify districts that might be a good fit for your skill set and experience. If you're conducting a nationwide job hunt, this may be the way to get your resume noticed.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.