Thinking of Leaving Teaching?
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Job Search – Your CV & Cover Letter

Questions asking about CVs are among the most common that Thinking of Leaving Teaching? receives. You will need to spend some time on this, especially if, like me, the last time you updated your CV before thinking of leaving teaching was in the early 2000s!

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When job hunting, it is important that you make sure that your skills and experience match those in the Person Specification and make sure that you put these in your CV. This may mean that, instead of having one generic CV, you will more likely need to tailor your CV for each job you apply for and highlight the most relevant skills and experience that are relevant to the non-teaching job you are applying for.

If you choose to pay someone to write your CV, check out their reviews first. I have seen several CV companies receive nothing but one-star reviews.

Please don’t spend out on a “professional” cv writer!!… and if you do decide to then really choose carefully. We see so many people who have paid out to have CVs professionally done and they are awful!

a comment from the Thinking of Leaving Teaching Group who works in careers

CV Templates

I have anonymised my own CV for you to look at and have made it available for you to download and use as a template if you so wish. It certainly helped me get interviews for Tutor/Assessor jobs for apprenticeships. It played a part in getting interviews for a several university jobs too.

“the thinking of leaving teaching website has a great template. I started with that and then let it evolve to fit the specific role I was going for. You will be editing your CV a lot over the coming months to see what works and what doesn’t. Very best of luck in your job hunt!

a comment from the Thinking of Leaving Teaching Group

I have included a link for you to download the Word file (Thinking of Leaving Teaching CV Template):

Key points:

  • I wrote a Personal Statement in the first person
  • I included a Core Skills section (see below)
  • My Employment History went back only as far as 2004
  • I included Key Achievements showing measurable improvements
  • In Education, I didn’t include any dates on my qualifications
  • I included a digital skills section because it was relevant for me

See Further Information at the bottom of this page for links to CV templates that you can download from Working Options in Education, Indeed, Reed, The Guardian Careers and Monster. The StandOut CV link includes some useful CV examples. These will give you some ideas about alternative formats and structures used when writing your CV.


General guidance for updating your CV

A typical CV includes the following sections:

  • Contact Details
  • Personal Statement
  • Employment History
  • Education
  • Achievements
  • Interests
  • References

Contact Details

You should include your name, address, phone number and email address. Try to use a professional sounding email address, which should ideally include your name. A study by CareerBuilder found that 35 percent of employers rejected CVs which included an inappropriate email address. If possible, use an email address such as

Personal Statement

You don’t have to have a personal statement, but I would advise putting time into creating one. A study by UK’s youth programme, National Citizen Service, revealed that recruiters spent an average of 8.8 seconds looking at a CV and so a well-written personal statement could give them a reason to read on.

This short paragraph should summarise who you are, what valuable skills and experience you have that are relevant to the job role, and what you can offer the company. You do not need the title “Personal Statement”. There are no definitive rules about whether the personal statement should be written in the first or third person. After doing some research on this, I felt that the majority opinion was that you should use the first person. After all, when you are writing your CV you are selling you. Also, the third person can sound incredibly pretentious.

My Personal Statement

My personal statement, which was successful in getting me interviews as a Tutor/Assessor for apprenticeships and, more recently, landing me a job as a Learning Technologist, was this one:

Personal Statement
My Personal Statement

I tweaked my personal statement depending on the specific job/sector I was applying for. The other sectors I was looking at were “IT Trainer/IT Skills Coach” and “Instructional Designer/eLearning Designer/Digital Learning Designer/Learning Technologist”. For example, if a job specified “management experience” in the criteria, then I would edit “middle leadership roles” into “management roles”.

Beware of paying people to write CVs!

When I was still a teacher, I made the huge mistake of paying someone who promised that they could improve my CV. The following personal statement, written in the third person, is what they wrote for me. It is generic and full of cliched statements:

“Influential and creative Manager with a sustained record of success in the public sector marketplace. Has substantial background in service organisations whilst at the same time managing cultural change across these concerns. An inspirational leader and outstanding team member, who through a participative approach will create robust strategies to translate vision into achievement. Strong analytical, problem-solving and decision-making skills have been demonstrated across many areas. Excellent communication and networking abilities have been used extensively to benefit his organisation and industry. Now seeking a creative role within a progressive organisation.”

Personal Statement written by a ‘professional’ CV writer

Core Skills Section

Although I didn’t include this in the “typical CV sections” list at the top, a core skills section as bullet points is useful because it allows recruiters to see your skills at a glance, and is a useful area to put keywords. I included a core skills section in my CV, after the personal statement.

Core Skills
My Core Skills

Employment, Education and Achievements

Be careful about using too much formatting when you are writing your CV as this can make the ATS reject it. Avoid putting Employment and Education in tables as these can make it difficult for the ATS algorithms to read. If they can’t read your CV then they will reject it.

Your CV should not contain details of every job you have ever done; it should go back no more than 10-15 years. If you have worked in lots of different schools, then you should only include your last 5-6 employment positions in reverse chronological order.

When listing your qualifications, include both the acronym and the keyword or phrase. So, for example, write “Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)”. If you have many degrees and postgraduate qualifications, there is no need to include details of your ‘O’ levels or GCSE results. If, like me, you are a more “mature” candidate, then you can choose to list your qualifications without the dates you acquired them. This is to avoid age discrimination. Of course, you should not include your date of birth.

Don’t include any education jargon or acronyms. EYFS, KS2/KS3 and SATs will mean very little to a recruiter and an ATS algorithm will not understand it. Avoid clichés if you are listing your achievements. Infamous phrases that have been overused are “results-focussed” and “results-oriented”. If you have played a part in improving results then simply state the measurable improvement that resulted from your efforts.

Interests section

An Interests section can give an employer/recruiter more insight into your personality. However, generic interests will turn recruiters off. They will only be interested if the interests are relevant to the role applied for. Leave the Interests section out if you need to cut down your CV to fit to two sides of A4, or if they don’t add to the job you’re applying for.


Many employers/recruiters won’t check references at the application stage, so it is okay to put “References available on request.”


Tip: Transferable skills to focus on

To make your teacher CV more appropriate for non-teaching jobs, you could adapt your personal statement to focus on the transferable skills that you have acquired during your teaching career, such as:

  • Communication: highlight your ability to effectively communicate with students, parents, colleagues, and administrators.
  • Organisation: emphasise your skills in planning and organising lesson plans, activities, and events.
  • Leadership: showcase your experience in managing and leading students and staff, as well as any involvement in committees or professional organisations.
  • Adaptability: illustrate your flexibility in adapting to new situations and managing different types of learners.
  • Technology: highlight your experience in using technology in the classroom, such as interactive whiteboards, learning management systems, and online tools.

I have more about transferable skills in Job Search: Transferable Skills.


Tip: Making your CV sound ‘more corporate’

Many of the things you have done as a teacher won’t mean much to a non-teacher, for example arranging after-school catch-up sessions and organising assemblies. When you are leaving teaching then you need to make your CV a little more ‘corporate-sounding’. Here are some examples:

  • Suddenly having to shift from classroom teaching to online becomes… “Agile working, at pace”.
  • The ability to continue successfully where the Internet went down in lessons where you’d planned to use computers becomes… “Adept at switching to contingency plans”.
  • After school catch-up sessions becomes… “Coordinating others to meet objectives and goals” or “Relationship-building to help meet targets”.
  • Organising assemblies, staff meetings and open evenings becomes… “Event management and planning”, so my arranging an assembly for Year 7s in the late 1990s becomes “experience of management and planning for events with over 400 attendees”. You could expand on this to include:
    • budgeting
    • establishing timelines and creating a programme of events,
    • selecting and reserving the event sites (booking the room),
    • planning food,
    • developing a theme,
    • arranging for activities,
    • selecting speakers,
    • arranging for equipment and facilities,
    • risk management

Don’t even mention teaching, instead say:

Classroom management = managing large and diverse teams.
Behaviour management = developing character and mediating confrontation between team members.
Lesson planning = handling extremely heavy workloads with tight deadlines to a high standard.
Teaching = regularly presenting to large groups on a range of topics and with a copious amount of different strategies to meet diverse needs.

A comment from a member of the Thinking of Leaving Teaching Group

Example: Terminology for L&D

A member of the Thinking of Leaving Teaching Group shared that they were now working in a L&D (Learning & Development) role. They were asked if they had any specific qualifications. This was their response:

“no, nothing – just the normal transferable skills and have led on whole school Teaching & Learning. Rewrote my CV five times using L & D terminology and started to get interviews…”

When asked what terminology they used, they replied:

“TNA- training needs analysis, PIP- personal improvement plans, LMS- learning management systems, Performance data analysis (tracking/ sims!) Onboarding (induction) SME- subject matter experts (other department HoDs)- I just googled lots of sites and found the common phrases. There’s lots of sites that are helpful. Good luck”

Here are some other examples of L&D-related terminology that teachers can use in a CV tailored for a Learning and Development job:

  • Designed and delivered training programs that aligned with business objectives and met learner needs.
  • Analysed performance gaps and identified learning solutions to improve employee knowledge, skills, and productivity.
  • Developed and implemented learning and development strategies that supported organisational goals and drove employee engagement.
  • Conducted needs assessments to identify knowledge and skill gaps and recommend appropriate learning interventions.
  • Facilitated training sessions, workshops, and webinars for employees at all levels of the organisation.
  • Utilised various instructional design methodologies and learning technologies to create effective and engaging learning experiences.
  • Collaborated with subject matter experts and stakeholders to develop content and ensure training materials were accurate and up-to-date.
  • Monitored and evaluated training effectiveness and made continuous improvements to ensure desired outcomes were achieved.
  • Managed and tracked training activities and learning progress using a learning management system (LMS).
  • Coached and mentored employees to support their professional development and growth.

Where to upload your CV

When you’re happy with your CV then you can start job hunting. You can upload your CV to job sites so that, in theory, employers can contact you about job opportunities. The job sites I have tried since 2014 are the following:

I found Indeed the most successful for me and that was the only platform on which I was contacted by recruiters. I wouldn’t advise using too many job sites as I found that I was seeing the same jobs across all platforms, and it was very time consuming to trawl through all of them. Once you find a job that you like the look of, the application process will require you to either attach your CV together with a cover letter or complete an online application form. Online applications may also ask you to include your CV as an attachment.


Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Frequently, recruiters use “Applicant Tracking Systems” (ATS) which use software algorithms to search your CV for keywords to identify candidates with desired skills and qualifications. The ATS looks for these keywords in the candidates’ CVs and will filter those CVs which lack any of the keywords. This means that if you send out a generic CV then a recruiter may not even get to read it.

You won’t know what these keywords are. However, you can get a good idea by checking the job description, job overview and person specifications on the employer’s websites. Because of this, your CV will need to be specific to the job you’re applying for.

Some employers will look for you on LinkedIn so it’s important that any information you have on LinkedIn is consistent with what you have on your CV. I made a mistake a few years ago of not updating some information on LinkedIn and I was interrogated about why details on LinkedIn were different to those on my CV in interview!


Your Cover Letter

Some jobs, such as those on Indeed, require you to simply attach a CV. The section for Cover Letter often has Optional in brackets. I would strongly advise that you attach a cover letter.

Many people say that a cover letter should be 3 to 5 paragraphs long. In general, what you need in a cover letter are the following:

  • First paragraph – This should state why you’re writing the letter. It should include the position you’re applying for and where you found the advert.
  • Second paragraph – Here you should mention your relevant experience and show how your skills match those in the job description.
  • Third paragraph – You should say why you’re suitable for the job and what attracted you to the role. You need to sell yourself.
  • Fourth paragraph – Perhaps expand on the third paragraph and write about what you can offer the organisation.
  • Fifth paragraph – Round off your letter, emphasising your interest and mention looking forward to the opportunity to meet in interview.

Using AI to Help With Your CV/Cover Letter

In January 2023, I saw a job advertised on Indeed and decided to apply for it. It took me just a few minutes to update my CV, which I uploaded, and then I just needed to write a cover letter. I decided to find out what would happen if I asked ChatGPT, “Write a cover letter for a [name of job role that I applied for] job”. I copied it, edited it to make it more relevant to my experience, pasted that cover letter in the relevant section, and then submitted my application. Nearly two weeks later, I received an offer of a job interview 😊

Below I have attached an example of a cover letter that ChatGPT generated for a Project Manager job. I asked it to “Write a cover letter for a Project Manager job for someone with little experience” (because most teachers won’t have had a previous roles as a ‘Project Manager’.

Cover letter generated by ChatGPT

It might be worth having a look at AI such as ChatGPT and Google Gemini (previously known as Bard) to get a template which you can adapt for your own use if you are stuck for ideas. The main advantage was that it was very quick… much quicker than spending hours searching for cover letters.

You can do the same for CV Personal Statements. Here is one I did using Google’s Bard:

Screen shot of a question asked using Google's Bard

AI can also help you with the interview process. I talk about this in the section, Using AI to Help You With Your Interview Questions.

When you’re happy with your CV and cover letter then you can start job hunting.


CV Samples and Templates:

National Careers ServiceHow to write a CV and related links to How to Write a Cover Letter and Completing Application Forms.

Indeed Career Guide More information about CVs and cover letters, including How To Email a CV to a Recruiter (With Examples and Tips), 10 best skills to include on a CV and How to write a CV personal profile (with 14 examples).

Reed – CV Templates. Free CV templates and CV examples and samples to help you create a professional CV fast.

The Guardian Careers – Guardian Jobs CV template. This also includes a link to Guardian Jobs advice on writing your CV.

Monster – CV Template. A CV template and tips for using it.

StandOut CV – Example of a good CV. This link includes some useful CV examples.

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