When you begin to approach graduation day at last, chances are your thoughts are turning full speed towards winning a job in your field of special education. For several years you have been studying hard, working away at teaching internships and dreaming of different activities you can do with a class of your own. Before any of this can transpire, though, it suddenly becomes clear that you have an obstacle standing in your way: the job interview.
For students who are approaching graduation or are newly graduated, the job interview seems like adding insult to injury – at the end of a grueling term, suddenly you have another step before you can start working and paying back those student loans. But the job interview doesn’t have to be achallenge if you follow this simple process to prepare for it. In addition to preparing mentally and emotionally, you will need to prepare your resume so it truly advertises your qualifications for you.
The Four Elements
With a special education teacher resume in particular, you will want to use the same approach you will take with your students to achieve success in the classroom – drill down to the essentials and tell the interviewer what they need to know to feel confident hiring you. You will want to include four elements in your resume: your contact information, your educational background and relevant teaching credentials, your prior work experience as well as any other relevant experience, activities or credentials in related areas. First with your contact information, you will want to make sure it is all current, correct and professional. If your voicemail message or email address needs changing, now is the time to do that. If you share a phone line with someone else, now may be the time to get a private line. Next, make sure your educational information is both accurate and complete.
If you have relevant work experience such as having earned your special education degree online, do not hesitate to highlight that information up front. If you graduated at the top of your class with honors or have a high GPA, add that to your resume. If you have a minor in a related field, also add that in under the educational section. Anything you can use to embellish your resume under the subject of education willlet the interviewer know you are highly qualified and will be an asset during the interview. If you are in process of getting your certification or if you already have it, let the interviewer know that. Being honest during the interview process gives the interviewer a taste of what a great employee you will be.
In terms of your prior work experience, if you are a freshgraduate and are starting out in your career, you may not think you have much to list here. Do not rule out relevant teaching experience, internships and volunteer work. You don’t have to state that you were a volunteer or an intern – work experience is work experience, no matter the type. If you taught Sunday School or volunteered in the pediatric wing at a local hospital, list that on your resume. If you were a teacher’s aide or volunteered for a summer with Teach For America or another organization, list that too. All of these activities show the interviewer you are motivated to get as much experience as possible to excel as a special education teacher. Finally, if you have other skills such as being bilingual, knowing sign language, having CPR or other training, list that on your resume in the category of related skills. If you received honors or awards for your work or your achievements, also list them at the end.
Now Make it Shine
Once you have all of the information outlined, your final step is to make sure your resume really shines in its presentation. Proofread it, and then ask a friend to do the same. Print it out on high quality fine grain paper. Make sure the font size is at least 12 point and in an easy-to-read font throughout such as Times New Roman or Arial. Make sure you have one-inch margins on all sides, top and bottom. In this way your resume will not only contain the right information but will present you in the best light during the interview process.
Image provided by the U.S. Army from Flickr’s Creative Commons
About the Author: Simon Bunker is studying for his PA teacher certification at the moment. He hopes to land a job in special education, as he has spent the past several years volunteering as well as working with special needs children.