Thursday, May 21, 2009

Teacher Photos for Resumes and CVs

This blog post was written by Jennifer Westcott, Classroom Canada's Marketing Consultant. She also happens to be my big sister.

Ah, the teacher photo. How can such a seemingly simple request produce such a dramatic range of results? How many ways can "Submit a head and shoulders shot for marketing purposes" be interpreted?

You'd be surprised.

Perhaps the confusion stems from an inherent misunderstanding of the term "marketing purposes." We here at Classroom Canada ask for a head and shoulders shot of all of our teachers because resumes with a photo attached result in more school interview requests than ones without. Why is that the case? We have no idea. But it is.

So we ask for photos that we can attach to your resumes and circulate amongst potential employers. And about 20% of the time, you'll send us something we can use. The other 80%? Well, many of them can be cropped into something usable, but many others simply can't be saved. So we'll ask you to resubmit. 20% of the re-submissions will make the cut, some of those can be cropped, many again can't be used.

And the cycle continues.

So, let's put the teacher photo issue to bed, here and now. We'll look at the three most common offenders and why they don't work and end with what IS a suitable photo. Our commander-in-chief, Victoria Westcott, kindly agreed to be our model. All of these photos were taken with the same non-professional camera, and no special lighting/flash/tricks were used. You can do this at home!

#3 Offender: "I'm a Serial Killer"

Would you want this woman anywhere NEAR your children, let alone teaching them? Sure, technically this is a head and shoulders photo, but so is a mug shot. A smile goes a long way.

#2 Offender: "I'm a Kid Trapped in an Adult's Body"

Yes, this is slightly preferable to the homage to Ted Bundy above. But, seriously? This is the image you want to present to potential employers? Potential BRITISH employers? Yes, you've got oodles of personality and yes, you're great with children - that's why we chose you to work with us! But employers need to see that you're a teacher first and foremost.

#1 Offender: "My Best Friend Shot This at Our Favourite Bar"

You wouldn't believe how many of these we get. Never mind the fact that it's totally out of focus (that happens after one too many Margaritas), but why oh why would you want your first impression to be that of a partier?

Yes, you probably do like to go out with your friends and have fun (so do we! And just wait 'til you're in London!) and there's nothing wrong with that. But put yourself in your potential boss' shoes. You've got two resumes sitting before you. One has a photo of a well-dressed, put-together, smiling applicant, the other is a blurry mess depicting buzzed woman in a nightclub holding an Appletini. Who would you choose?

So what should a "head and shoulders shot for marketing purposes" look like? Put on a nice, clean, ironed shirt. Step outside into a spot that's sheltered from the sun (or at least have the sun behind the photographer, not behind you) and have a friend/relative/colleague squeeze off a few shots. Request that the shots be centered (but don't worry if they're a little off, like I said, we can crop) and taken from about the mid-chest up. Black & White prints cleaner than colour, but it doesn't really make that much of a difference.

And ta-da! A decent looking photo that is sure to impress!

If you'd like to become part of the Classroom Canada team, please sign up for our newsletters & apply through our website. Be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians to help you understand everything you need to know about teaching in London.


  1. I love this, Victoria. It's super funny, but true! And I can only imagine some of the photos that you get! Which reminds me, I should probably send you one ASAP.

  2. My colleague, Jenna, just told me that she once rec'd a photo of a woman completely naked lying on a car with her hands strategically placed to cover her "bits." Thank goodness I have never rec'd anything like that, otherwise I'd have to include "the porn star" photo as well. And none of us want to see that. ;-)
    As always, thanks for reading & sharing.

  3. i am a teacher, and has been teached for 4 years until now, i teach in indonesia as a english teacher. i like your blog and the templates it's really same as my blog. your blog it's very interesting and maybe you we can share anything about english because i really poor about it. and congrate for your blog


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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