Getting a job in FE: four ways to make your CV stand out

By AoC Jobs on

Competition in today’s job market is fierce, so how can you make your (FE) CV work harder?

Your CV might only run to two pages, but it needs to make a big impact if you’re to get to interview stage.

We’ve spoken to further education recruiters and used their insights to create a guide to building an FE career which you can access for free. In the meantime, here are some useful tips on how to write a CV that looks professional and stands out from the pack:

1.  (Properly) read the job advert

Perhaps the most important step of all is to read the job description carefully and ensure you have the necessary skills and experience to apply.

This might sound obvious, but huge numbers of applicants fail to do so. Having a CV that does nothing to demonstrate alignment with the required skills, experience and values of the role was a very common complaint among recruiters.

It’s also important to ask yourself whether this sounds like a role you would find challenging and enjoyable.|

2.  Tailor your CV to the role

If a job advert requests specific skills/experience, highlight these in a prominent place on your CV. For example, if the role involves working closely with external partners, be sure to emphasise the elements of previous roles which involved doing this.

Similarly, if the role has an administrative slant make sure you mention any appropriate core skills you have, such as good time-management and organisation.

Lastly, if your CV has a profile section, adjust it so that it corresponds to the job advert as much as possible.

98% of recruiters told us that demonstrating their institution’s values was desirable, with 42% describing it as “essential”. Tailoring your CV as part of your application will hold you in good stead.

3.  Include any need-to-know qualifications/information

If you have qualifications, experience or skills that are particularly relevant, be sure to highlight these in your CV.

This might include specific qualifications or training you have completed, e.g. Diploma in Education and Training (DET), Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), Special Educational Needs (SEN) training, first-aid course or similar.

If you have them, you should also include foreign language skills, and a valid Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) certificate number.

4.  Highlight any practical experience

There’s no substitute for practical experience, so don’t forget to mention this in your CV as employers will love to see it.

If you spent a summer teaching English abroad, for example, make sure you include it and highlight why it’s relevant to the role.

Or, if applying for a student support role, emphasise any previous roles you have held (including voluntary positions, e.g. in youth clubs or similar) which have involved working closely with young people. Remember to include any relevant transferable skills or experience gained from another sector.


General CV Tips

Don’t leave any gaps
Explain any periods where you were not employed. Unexplained gaps can be an instant red flag for employers in FE.

Keep it concise
Your CV should communicate the skills you have and the value you can bring to a college at-a-glance.

Keep it brief (aim for two pages where possible) and stick to facts and key information only.

Choose a clear and professional format

  • Include a short profile/introduction section at the top summarising your key skills and qualities.
  • List your most recent position below the introduction. Add a bulleted list to outline your key responsibilities, giving concise examples where appropriate.
  • As you add your previous roles, descriptions can become increasingly brief.
  • Use a font that’s clear, easy to read and a reasonable size.
  • Ensure there’s sufficient white space on the page and that it doesn’t look cramped.
  • More than one FE recruiter mentioned the use of clip art. Don’t be that applicant!


Check, check and check again

No potential employer wants to see a CV that’s full of spelling or grammatical errors. These types of mistakes could mean instant rejection, regardless of how impressive your credentials are. Ask a trusted colleague or friend to proofread your CV before submitting it – it will be worth it.

Would you like more advice on how to go about getting your dream job in FE? Download our career guide packed full of industry insight and practical advice to help you in your job search!