Resumes: What to Include, What Not to Include, and How to Interview Well

Resumes: What to Include, What Not to Include, and How to Interview Well

By Lucy White


So, you are about to graduate. What should you be preparing for your entrance into the profession of teaching? These are a few tips from a first-year teacher!


Job Interview


What to Include

Contact information. At the top of your resume, you should have your name, current address, phone number, and email. That way, it will be easy to find when your prospective employer wants to contact you.

Experience. As a music educator, you will have two types of experience: performance and teaching. Separate the two, beginning with teaching experience. On a resume, you should always start with MOST recent. I know what you’re thinking, “But I have no professional experience! I am a student teacher or a resident!” Yes, you DO have some experience! Include your student teaching/residency first as that will be the most current. Then, think back through your college career. Did you teach private lessons? Maybe you worked some band camps during the summers off? Those count as teaching experience!

Now, for your performance experience section. You may ask, “Why do I need to separate these two types of experience?” My answer is this: you are entering the field as a teacher first, musician second. Your prospective employer is hiring you as a teacher, and you want the first thing they see to be teaching experience. That being said, you should include the performance side of things, too, because it shows other organizations and ensembles you were involved in during school.

Activities and Recognition. This brings us to the next section you should include in your resume: clubs, organizations, and awards! Think of this part just like you did when filling out your college applications. You need to list all clubs, ensembles, and organizations you were involved in throughout college, as well as offices held and conferences attended. You should list any and all scholarships, awards, and accomplishments you’ve received in this section, also. Were you a collegiate member of NAfME? A music fraternity or sorority? Chorale? Symphony Band? Did you make the Dean’s list? Were you awarded a service scholarship? Were you a section leader or student conductor? Again, you should put them in order from most to least recent.

References. Lastly, you should include three references at the end of your resume: two professional, one personal. You should list their name and title, position held (i.e. Professor of Music Education, Principal of school, etc.), phone number, and email address. Your completed resume should be between 1-2 pages long. If you have questions or need help with editing, contact your college’s career center. They are there to help you!


What Not to Include

You should not include anything from high school on your resume. If you choose to include work experience that does not pertain to teaching or performing, make sure it is only professional jobs and put them toward the bottom of the resume. Just as you list each activity from most recent to least recent, you want to list them from most relevant to least relevant as well.




The Interview

Okay, you have your resume ready. But what about your philosophy statement? Or letters of recommendation? Put them in your portfolio!

When you receive the call to be interviewed, make sure to bring along your portfolio. In your portfolio, you should include anything relevant that is not on your resume. This means you should have your philosophy statement or teaching philosophy, sample lesson plans, letters of recommendation, a college transcript, and copies of any and all test scores required for your position (i.e. Praxis, PLT). Just in case, you should also include a copy of your resume in your portfolio.


“The resume that shows me someone is more involved and able to balance school and other organizations is going to win the interview.”


Mr. Powell, Principal of Beech High School, says, “A resume is a piece of paper that cannot tell me your personality or character, things I will look for during the interview.” He is correct. You must dress professionally. Iron your shirt, wear clean looking dress shoes, and do not bring in your phone. Mr. Powell says he is looking at the way you handle yourself, and if you pull out a phone, he sees that as a sign of disrespect and loss of focus.

That being said, the resume is important to get you in the door. “If I have two resumes and time for only one interview,” says Dr. Green, assistant principal of Beech High School in Hendersonville, Tennessee, “the resume that shows me someone is more involved and able to balance school and other organizations is going to win the interview.” This means she is looking at that section for organizations and accomplishments. Including them on your resume shows you are a team player and collaborate well.


Tips from a First-Year Teacher

  • Make direct eye contact, stay focused, and give direct honest answers.
  • Research the school before the interview.
  • Know who the administration is.
  • Know the school mascot.
  • Know the school’s data and how you can contribute to make it a better place.
  • Find out about the music program.
  • Find out how many students attend that school.

These details can only help you. Be respectful and knowledgeable in your content area. Lastly, breathe and relax. The interview is halfway there!


new teachers

New college graduates, don’t miss the deadline for the First Year Teacher membership discount: June 30. Click here to join NAfME today.


Related Articles:

7 Job Hunting Tips

6 Do’s and Don’ts for New Music Teachers

Student Teaching … Just the Basics


About the author:


NAfME member Lucy White is choir director at Beech High School in Hendersonville, Tennessee. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Tennessee Technological University.



Kenneth Powell, Ed. S. is Principal of Beech High School in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Jodi Green, Ed. D. is Assistant Principal of Beech High School in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

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The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

Brendan McAloon, Marketing and Events Coordinator, March 9, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (