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15 Higher Education Resume Writing and Formatting Tips

15 Higher Education Resume Writing and Formatting Tips

Discover the ultimate higher education resume writing tips to land the perfect position at a college or university. As I am sure you know, your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) is the key to opening doors to interviews.

It lets you showcase your relevant skills and expertise for the job opening. This is your time to impress, as an effective resume concisely describes your professional skill set and how you have succeeded in your previous positions. A quality higher education cover letter and your resume should intrigue the reader, encouraging them to get to know you better and how you could fit within their institution.

Top Professional Resume Tips for Higher Education Teaching Professionals

Professional Profile

Resume objective statements are old school. They do not add value to your document. A professional career summary or profile should begin your resume with a brief description of your soft skills. This is the first point in your resume where you can showcase your skills, expertise, and passion for the position you are applying for.

Ensure that you create this summary based on the specific position. This lets the person reading it know you took the time to understand what the college or university is looking for in a candidate and target your valuable assets to the position requirements.

Start your professional summary with a sentence outlining your experience, for instance:

 “Passionate, well-rounded, and dynamic educator with nearly 15 years of experience driving interactive and engaging classroom discussions where students are held accountable for recognizing the connection between learning and experience.”

This would be an excellent introduction to an Adjunct Professor’s resume.

The professional profile is the opportunity to convey some of your essential skills and use some academic buzzwords in a meaningful paragraph before you delve into your hard skills and professional background.

Areas of Expertise – Examples

This area of expertise section of your higher education resume should be littered with educational buzzwords/keywords that you find in the job posting. This is where you can insert relevant keywords and job competencies that the Applicant Tracking Systems will pick up instantly. Ensure that the characteristics you insert apply to your background and what the institute would look for in an applicant.

One resume writing tip a university instructor might use is to develop a bullet point list of 10-12 core competencies highlighting the areas of expertise. These strengths will communicate that you know the teaching skills and areas needed to perform the job you wish to secure.

Sample Areas of Strength to Include in Your Resume

Adjunct Professor:

Student Connections, Subject Matter, Curriculum Development, Instructional Design, Real World Applications, Creative Problem Solving, Academic Policies, Classroom Management, Feedback and Assessment, Mentorship, Student Management Systems

 Dean of Students:

Student Retention, Crisis Management, Diversity and Inclusion, Student Development Theory, Policies and Procedures, Professional Development, Policy Development, Program Review, Faculty Evaluation.

 Chief Financial Officer:

Financial Reporting, Capital Management, Budgeting and Forecasting, Risk Management, Treasury Management, Compliance and Governance, Stakeholder Relations, Strategic Planning, and Regulatory Grant Funding.

 Communications Director:

Communication Strategies, Strategic Communication, Public Relations, Crisis Communication, Professional Leadership, Attention to Detail, Brand Management, Digital Communication, Social Media Branding.

 Department Chair:

Academic Leadership and Administration, Research and Scholarship, Program Development & Management, Supervision of Teaching, Program Evaluation, Conflict Resolution, Strategic Planning, and Data-Driven Decision-making.

College Student Advisor:

Student Counseling & Support, Academic Advising, Data Analysis, Interpersonal Communication, Academic Educational Guidance, Crisis Intervention, Program Coordination, Reporting, Case Loads.

Co-op Advisor:

Career Preparation, Academic Integration, Data Management, Compliance and Policy, Materials Development, Learning Management Systems, Student Support, Progress Monitoring, and Work Term Monitoring.

Higher Education Resume Keywords

Larger employers use applicant tracking systems to weed out resumes as the initial review. A concrete way to pass this initial review is to include relevant industry keywords or buzzwords specific to the position you are applying for and apply them to your skill set. Use the job description to determine what knowledge, skills, and qualifications the employer values, and sprinkle those words throughout your resume.

For example, an Adjunct Professor should possess organizational skills, be an effective communicator, be technologically savvy, and support colleagues.

One thing to remember is to build the wording from the job posting into your resume. If the posting states, “individualized lesson planning a plus,” incorporate that into your resume as “Experience in creating individualized lesson plans to encourage full student participation and engagement based on unique learning styles, needs, and goals.”

Look at the school website, department page, online job descriptions, and other job postings to help determine some key buzzwords to include.

Using the correct keywords is one of the most important aspects of writing resumes or CVs in higher education or any other industry.

Education and Credentials

Most higher education positions require applicants to have a minimum of a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Take a close look at the job posting to determine the educational requirements and think about listing those relevant to the position. There is no need to list your high school diploma.

If a significant amount of time has passed between achieving your last degree and the date you are applying for a new position, consider not including graduation dates.

A general rule of thumb is to start your education list with the most recent completions. State the name of your degree, the institution, and the institution’s location, then the year of graduation or expected completion, if applicable. Under your education, include any teaching certifications or other credentials you have received.

Include Thesis Details

Suppose you have obtained your master’s degree or doctorate. In that case, you may want to include your thesis statement within your educational experience section, especially if it is relevant to the subject you wish to teach. Include below the institution where you received the degree and put it in italics so it stands out without removing the educational listing.

For instance:

Thesis: “The role of nature vs. nurture and its impact on children’s early childhood and elementary education.

Thesis: “Homework and Achievement: Investigating the role homework plays on student achievement.”

Teaching or Professional Experience

In the professional experience section of your resume, include a brief description of your job duties and responsibilities, followed by a listing of your achievements within that position. Ensure that you list your most recent post first, and if you are no longer at the job listed, write your description and accomplishments in the past tense.

Listing your achievements in bullet form makes them stand out within the resume. The achievements must reflect any classroom experience, school community involvement, and educational improvements you made in your past experiences.

Depending on the position you are applying for in higher education, you may have previous accounting experience, board positions, or professional jobs other than teaching.

Suppose you are applying for an adjunct teaching position in a corporate career. In that case, you will want to highlight any subject-related experience and skills you have as well as any training or presentation experience.

Here are a few examples of work experiences.

Dean of Students Resume Excerpt Sample Excerpt:

Maintained student service and academic program offerings for 10,000 on-campus and 15,000 distance education students. Established development and institutional advancement initiatives. Addressed diversity issues within the college curriculum, oversaw residential housing operations, and recruited senior administrators and academic staff.

  • Established a campus crisis counseling initiative for students and families in the dean’s office.
  •  Organized and facilitated ten-week-long educational program events that increased academic participation by 20%.
  •  Created a comprehensive communication and training program to meet senior academic staff’s diverse needs, goals, and learning styles.

  Director of Alumni Relations Resume Sample Excerpt:

 Advise and administer the development and management of alumni events and volunteer programs. Identify, cultivate, and solicit alumni prospects for annual gifts and educate graduating students about alumni benefits and philanthropy. Ensure accurate and complete alumni database records utilizing state-of-the-art technological programs.

  •  Raised $1 million for special projects and events in collaboration with various faculties and the Alumni Association.
  •  Introduced new and improved database recording technology to create a more effective customer service protocol for alumni who emailed, called, or visited campus.
  •  Coordinated with the Senior Director of Alumni Engagement to create and execute a more comprehensive approach to alumni engagement by creating online chat rooms and on-campus clubs.

Professional Development and Other Resume Headers

After completing the professional experience section, you can decide what further headings to include on your higher education resume. Some examples of additional sections that you can have are:

  • Professional Development
  • Professional Affiliations
  • Presentations
  • Publications
  • Volunteer Experience

Try to keep the information specific to the job you are applying for. If you have volunteer experience with no transferable skills, do not include it, as you want to maintain a job-specific tailored resume.

Another point to remember is not to overload your resume with information that may not necessarily be required to obtain your next job as an Adjunct Professor, Chief Technology Officer, or Director of Education. If you find your resume getting too lengthy after including your extracurricular involvement, then take the time to review it and thoroughly think about what could be removed to maintain an acceptable length.

Remember, though, that if the job posting requests an academic CV, they expect a more extended version of a resume that will include all of these sections.

Quotes and Recommendation Statements

If you have meaningful quotes from colleagues or supervisors that describe vital skills and attributes that connect you to the position you are applying for, why not include them on your resume? If you do not have space in your resume or would rather have a quote at the bottom of your cover letter, go for it.

If you include a testimonial/quote on your resume, the best places to insert the one or two lines are at the top of the page, above your professional profile, or at the bottom of the resume. Do not forget to include the name of the person who provided the quote and italicize the lines to stand out against the other resume font. Here is an example:

“Ms. Smith is a very creative and collaborative leader who has provided our district with exceptional support and programs, ensuring success for all teachers and students.”

Dean Quinton, Principal

Focus Your Resume to Match the Job Position

What to include in your resume will depend on your expertise, professional background, skill set, and what position you are hoping to secure. By closely examining the job, you can better understand what the institution is looking for in a qualified candidate.

If you are applying for a position that is the next step in your career path, such as transitioning from an instructor to a dean position, then include the relevant skills to secure an interview for the Dean of Students. However, if you want to enter the college or university scene as a professor or adjunct instructor, you would include a much different set of skills. You may use some transferable skills from previous employment.

A critical tip to tailoring your higher education resume is to ensure the content matches what the educational institution is looking for. Make them picture you in the position through your experiences and accomplishments.

Use C.A.R. to Determine Accomplishments

One of the best ways to determine your accomplishments is to use the acronym C-A-R: Challenge-Action-Result. When describing your achievements, think of a challenge or task, your strategy to handle it, and the achieved results. Employers are looking for ways to disqualify you, therefore ensure that you clearly outline how your past experiences and successes have benefited the company or institution.

For example:

“Identified district-wide curriculum issues specific to special needs learners. Hired specialists and facilitated workshops for special education teachers to eliminate issues.”

“Implemented Fountas and Pinnell Reading Program to help all students jump a minimum of one reading level by year-end.”

“Introduced an after-school peer support program to encourage students to help one another with their studies while tackling social problems and increasing peer friendships; resulted in decreased problem behaviors and increased understanding of the material.”

Quantify Accomplishments

Numbers go a long way to establish your achievements in a more meaningful format. Numbers stand out against a sea of words, so as often as possible, quantify your accomplishments using numbers as much as possible.

Here are a few examples:

“Boosted student attendance by 10% by restoring student-faculty relationships.”

“Reduced student discipline rate by 8% by implementing restorative discipline program.”

“Increased students’ final exam marks by 20% by implementing a study tutorial program.”


This is probably the most crucial step in writing your higher education resume. Always proofread your work for spelling and grammar. Being able to submit a resume that is free of mistakes and looks polished will undoubtedly be worth the time you take to read it over a few times. Make sure that the spelling is correct and that your dates and address information are accurate. A great tip is to have a friend re-read your resume to see anything you missed.

Research Faculty Institution

Investigating the college or university mission, future goals, and position expectations can go a long way when applying for the next step in your career. Avoid using the first person when describing the capabilities you will bring to the position. Simple statements that connect the job description to your responsibilities show that you have read and thought about the requirements specified in the posting.

Resume Formatting and Design

Your resume’s overall formatting should be consistent with the other submitted documents. This means your resume, cover letter, thank you letter, reference page, etc., should all have the same header, margins, font style and size, and borders, if applicable. Bold or italicize your name and section headings, and keep your qualifications the focal point.

Summing it Up!

Being organized is a top skill for any position in the higher education field. Ensure that your resume or curriculum vitae looks professional and clean, which will easily translate to your academic skill set. Read the job description and posting in detail to tailor your resume or CV to match. This will set you apart from other candidates and land your application in the interview pile.

Use metrics throughout your work. This will showcase your accomplishments in detail and allow the reader to input your hard skills into the position you are applying for.

There are many ways to write a professional resume for your next job as Dean of Students or English Professor. Follow the tips outlined above, and you will surpass the other applicants and sit across from the interview panel in no time.

Take the time to review resume samples to get ideas for formatting, content, keyword placement, and organization.

If you need help writing your job search documents, including a strong higher education resume and cover letter, connect with me (Candace) via phone at 1 877 738 8052 or send an email.