A new teacher wanted advise on her resume in an online art ed group. People criticized her color scheme, her headshot, all her content etc. Someone described her resume as “juvenile.” She bristled. She went on the defense. What she really wanted was compliments and minor edits. She defended every bad choice she made. She reminded me a bit of myself when I went back to school in my 40s for graphic design. Critiques would leave me feeling attacked and demoralized. Soon enough I realized how much I had to learn and how I needed to humble myself to being open to learn those things. By the end of my three (plus) year program I  gained confidence in myself, my classmates and teachers and it reflected in my work. That confidence came from embracing criticism from peers, professors, and  professionals I admired.

I straddle both words as art educator and graphic designer as I write this post. Content AND design are entwined with each other in resume creation. You need good design to help deliver well thought out and written content both effectively and quickly to a busy school administrator. By the way, there is no shame in getting help with either content or design, or both.

I was hired recently to help an art teacher write AND design her resume. I loved doing it and it made me think what I could offer by the way of advice to My Art Lesson readers. So, here it goes.

Part I

Dos and Don’ts for the  Art Teacher Resume Content:

  1. Resume Length  No one’s resume should go more than two pages and if you have lots of experience, just highlight the last 10 years. For less experienced educators, one page is fine.
  2. Should I have a Career Objective Statement?  I think so. Some say they are outdated and favor a Professional Resume Summary or Qualifications Summary. I know there are differences but this is akin to saying tomato versus tomahto.
  3. Should I use a headshot?  The quick answer is no. The longer answer is no because it is unnecessary, takes up valuable real estate, and invites conscious or unconscious bias (on age, weight, ethnicity, etc). They may look you up on Linked In, so why give away space on your resume when you want to catch their eye with your skills? Put that professional headshot on Linked In.
  4. Cover the Basics  Expected information includes contact information, education, experience (reverse-chronological format), skills, and lastly, the optional hobbies or personal section. My first interview was landed because I did taekwondo in college and added it to my hobbies section. It was a ridiculous reason to land an interview but I was willing to use anything to get my foot in the door as a newly licensed but inexperienced teacher.  Always mentions languages you speak, community service, hobbies, etc.
  5. Additional Art Teacher Information  What is that? Teaching licensure(s) you hold, teaching portfolio link (and yes, I do see this as a “must” for art educators in today’s day and age), professional organizations (National Art Education Association, your state art education association, photography groups local art associations, etc), exhibits, awards, professional development, art skills/media, etc.
  6. References?  References are not expected or needed on a resume. I do encourage people to contact their references and ask for formal letters of recommendation and current contact information. Make up a sheet with the names, titles, school or business name, business email as well as summer contact information (if searching in spring and summer months) of your three to four references. Never surprise a reference and always ask if they are able to write a positive reference. It’s also not wrong to provide a list of your accomplishments at the job to make it easy for them. Have the reference information attached to their written references and be ready to give out if asked in an interview or at any point in the process for references.
  7. Use the Correct Format  Save and provide your resume as a PDF to keep formatting intact. Mostly, your resume will be emailed and uploaded. If you go to job fairs, you may need paper resume copies. I also suggest you have a dozen printed resumes on hand when you go in for an in-person interview.
  8. Lean on Others  First, use the built-in grammar and spell checker but don’t stop there. This is the time to cash in on all those favors people owe you. If you don’t have a way with words, ask the English teacher who was always borrowing paper if they could help your craft your objective and proofread your resume. Also, most colleges have a career office that you can utilize even years after graduation, so tap your alma mater. If all else fails, there are services you can pay to do this work.
  9. Customize For every job, you will want to tweak your resume. If they want someone to teach Ceramics, make sure you include ceramics and kiln loading and firing in your skills. If they are looking for a Yearbook advisor be sure you emphasize your graphic design background and any extra curriculum advisor experience. Be sure to double and triple-check that there are no lingering remnants from a previous draft left over.

It’s really number 5 that differentiates the art education resume from all the other professions and even teaching subjects. And this is where content and design come together. Design is more than prettying up your resume. It’s about how you group content and present information. It’s about organization, hierarchy, and editing as well. For example, at one point on my resume, I has some miscellaneous art sales, art classes, and workshops scattered through my resume, and eventually, it was all grouped together in its own section labeled  “Professionalism in the Arts” section.

Once you have your information gathered, it’s time to move on to designing. Click here for Resume Advice for Art Teachers | Part II: Design

Author Maureen Meyer spent over twenty years in art education as both an art teacher and department chair. Maureen is also a graphic designer and founder of My Art Lesson. Maureen is available for resume consulting and designing. Contact her at info@myartlesson

Related content at My Art Lesson

Resume Advice for Art Teachers Part II: Design