Rehab Your Principal Résumé in 5 Easy Steps

Your résumé is a selfie, and no one likes to take a bad selfie.

Man with resume paper

Your principal résumé can be a living document that tells the story of your growth as a professional. It should be a curated vision of how you have become the professional you are. When you take the time to carefully shape that vision, you are more likely to move beyond the preliminary pile of candidate maybes. If you are not currently doing a job search, revisiting your résumé can be a great way to record the good work you are doing. Most people only unearth their résumé when they are about to begin the job search. It’s easy to write off the résumé as a stale, formal document, but it doesn’t have to be! 

Ditch the basic templates.

If you are using a Microsoft template to create your résumé, it’s time to branch out. A résumé that represents a lifetime of professional accomplishments should be more than a bulleted list set in chronological order. It should be visually vibrant and thoughtfully curated, showing that you are proud of your professional journey. According to experts, that might be hard to accomplish if you are using Times New Roman.

It’s easier than you think to be design savvy and to create a polished principal resume that looks great. There are quite a few affordable instant downloads that have been specifically designed for educators. This is a cheap way to make an instant impact.

Use better verbs.

Look at your accomplishments through a leadership lens and focus on three crucial accomplishments. Instead of minimizing them with bullet points, offer a short narrative statement about key moments when you impacted your community. Do this by summarizing what you have created, designed, or implemented rather than what you have overseen, administered, or managed.

This simple reconsideration of the verbs you use to describe your work is a game changer. In essence, a reader should be able to read your résumé and see the energy and creativity you bring to your leadership.

Avoid meaningless jargon.


Your résumé should make you approachable and real. As such, avoid using meaningless jargon that can alienate your reader. Phrases such as learning style, 21st-century learners, competency-based, and whole-child do not inspire conversation or further inquiry.

Aim for quality over quantity.

When re-crafting your résumé, take out unnecessary information that can make you look busy instead of productive. Avoid listing tasks that are basic to the job. Duties like corresponding via email, managing schedule changes, and serving as an advisor don’t tell the most intriguing version of your growth as a professional. Instead, speak about creating new programs, designing collaborative experiences, and building school culture. Finally, if somewhere on your résumé you have listed that you are proficient in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or any Google applications, it’s time to highlight and delete. Those are basic expectations of anyone working in a professional setting in 2018. A better way to show that you are tech-savvy is to share your LinkedIn profile.

Don’t lead with your academic background.

Your academic background is important, but lived experience is much more meaningful. It’s great to have an advanced degree in school leadership. It’s even better to have experience building programs and teams that directly impact the experience of students. 

Follow School Leaders Now on Facebook and join our group Principal Life for more conversations about and insights into the challenges of school leadership.