How to Create a Professional Profile That Gets You Noticed

When hundreds of candidates apply for the same position, it’s hard to stand out. Here’s how you rise above the noise and land that job.

Teacher Candidate Shaking Hands at an Interview

by Dr. Mary Clement for NEA Member Benefits

Key takeaways

  • A professional profile summarizes a candidate’s certification/licensure and highlights strengths and special qualifications.
  • A well-worded professional profile will entice employers to read your entire résumé.

When hundreds of candidates apply for one education position, a boring job objective at the top of a résumé will not help you stand out from the crowd. An educator’s résumé needs to catch the reader’s attention very quickly, and a well-worded professional profile will entice the employer to read the rest of the résumé.

What’s a professional profile?

Consisting of just one or two very short sentences, a professional profile summarizes a candidate’s certification/licensure, while also indicating strengths and special qualifications.

For example, compare this old-style objective: 

  • Job Objective: Seeking an elementary school teaching position where I can help all children learn.

With this descriptive professional profile:

  • Fully-certified for pre-K through 6th grade in Georgia, I completed a semester of student teaching with first graders who scored above the state average in reading because of our intensive reading intervention program using laptops.

Obviously, an employer will want to read about this intensive intervention program and see what this candidate can bring to their new position! Online teaching should appear in the professional profile if you have taught with technology. 

Another example highlights previous experience and certification:

  • After eight years in the business world, I completed an MAT that included student teaching in Gunther Heights Middle School, recipient of the Maryland Prize for most improved middle school in 2014. My units, both in-class and online, in reading and math for 7th graders helped at-risk students raise their achievement 18 points.

Wouldn’t YOU want to hire this applicant?

Craft your professional profile to tell your unique story

When the educator job market is tight, employers receive huge numbers of résumés for teaching positions. Many administrators ask an assistant to sort applications by reading the top half of the first page of the résumé. Look at your own résumé. Fold it in half. Is your teacher certification/licensure clearly evident in your professional profile? Do these one or two lines make you stand out in a positive way, leading the reader to bother with the rest of your résumé? What else might help you to make the “short list” of potential candidates? Any experience where you transitioned a class to remote learning is highly desirable by employers. 

After your professional profile, your educational background should be summarized, with the most recent degree listed first. Strong candidates list their high GPA with the degree earned. After education, list teaching experience, remembering that field experience, clinical experience and student teaching ARE teaching experiences. After formal teaching experience, list related teaching experience, followed by other work experience. Yes, administrators look at other work experience to see if you held those jobs over a series of summers, or for an extended period of time. Your past experience is the best predictor of your future performance, and working at the community pool for three summers is a sign of your success with that job.

Customize your résumé to match your perfect job

Customization is vitally important for getting noticed. Speak to the type of position you want. For example, if you seek a job in a district with many English language learners (ELLs), your professional profile should stress your work with students in this demographic group. If your student teaching experience, or your first years of teaching, were in a district with similar student populations to the one where you now seek employment, let the employer know that immediately.

Notice how these examples include specifics:

  • My sixteen-week student teaching experience in an inclusion classroom for third graders completed my licensure for k-5, with a full endorsement in special education. Volunteering with the after-school program showed me the value of guiding parents in how to be their own child’s teacher.
  • An internship program at Madison High School taught me the value of constant planning and assessment. Certified in history for 6-12, my classes will always be designed for meeting standards through student engagement and achievement, with online tutorials. 
  • A veteran teacher with six years of experience in New Constance schools, my 4th graders’ test scores were consistently at the 75% achievement rate. The use of the online LEPA reading program and the ADD-ON math series guided my students’ success.

Speak to the uniqueness of your past work

If you can, include experiences that will make your professional profile stand out from the rest. For example, do you have:

Online teaching experience. Resulting from the 2020 pandemic, employers seek teachers with experience in remote teaching. Any online teaching experience will set you above other candidates. Your past use of technology in the classroom is an asset. List specific programs that you have used successfully with students. 

Distinctive field experience. At one college, all elementary education majors must complete a field experience with English language learners, and they qualify for an endorsement in ESOL because of that experience plus two additional classes. These students have an edge over other new graduates because of that endorsement, which should be included in the professional profile.

Study abroad experience. For foreign language majors, study abroad makes them much more employable. For history majors, study abroad indicates first-hand knowledge that simply can’t be gained from a textbook.

Related work experience. Summer jobs at a camp, volunteer work with after-school programs and tutoring are excellent experiences to add to a résumé. Part-time jobs at pre-schools, swimming pools or libraries are good to add. One student teacher had taught aerobics for two years in her college dorm, and that experience got her a preliminary interview over others who hadn’t done any teaching outside of required education courses.

Personal anecdotes. Sometimes a personal story catches a reader’s attention. Just make it related to education in some way. Some example profiles:

  • Fully-certified in middle school social sciences and language arts (6-8), my own experience as a 7th grader who was identified as at-risk motivates me to help every child succeed. A recipient of my college’s outstanding student teacher award, I know that at-risk students can become at-promise. 
  • After ten years of classroom teaching in 4th and 6th grades, I completed my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Knowing the theory behind what I have been doing makes me a stronger teacher and advocate for student success.

Final notes

A résumé must be read and edited by other people before you send it out. One misspelled word may put your paperwork in the “no way” stack. Adding too many small items makes the résumé very tedious. For example, it is not recommended to include “made a bulletin board,” “took daily attendance,” or “walked children to lunch and bus pick-up” as activities under student teaching.

Remember, too, that a résumé cannot explain everything. The professional profile that you create for the résumé can be developed into the first paragraph of your cover letter, where the reader can get a clearer picture of your work. Your unique professional profile can also become a one-minute introduction of your expertise on a video interview site, or can become your introduction when you speak with a recruiter at a job fair.

When deciding how to introduce yourself on a résumé, think about the requirements set forth in the job description. If you were the recruiter, résumé sorter or principal, what would YOU want to see at the top of the résumé? What would capture your attention and make you want to know more about the candidate? With these questions in mind, you can write a résumé that will get noticed!

Dr. Mary C. Clement is a professor of teacher education at Berry College, northwest of Atlanta, Georgia. Her research on the hiring of new teachers has received national recognition.