Resumes and CVs for Teaching English Abroad

Things are different now. The work scene is not the same as back home. Employers will most definitely want to see your photo and they will ask a bunch of questions . . . questions that might be inappropriate, strange or even illegal back home.

They will ask about your family. They will ask your age. They may well ask if you are married and if not…maybe they will ask why not? In their eyes and in their country these are legal and legitimate questions.

Every question has a reason

When you need a working visa it is often required that you need a passport from an English-speaking country, or a country they see as English-speaking. Amongst the other questions you’ll find reasons such as the fact some visas have an age limit or even, for example, in Saudi Arabia, men may not be allowed to teach at a girl’s or women’s school.

Build a bridge and get over it

If you have a problem with these questions and issues now, you should know that you may have some difficulty finding a job or even surviving in a non-Western country. Will it bother you?  Can you get over it?  Make the decision before you decide to make the move.

What should be on your Resume or CV?

A CV is technically a more detailed and and academically-oriented form, but overseas it will often have the same meaning as a resume.  Make sure to put the most important information near the top so that your employer will see it easily at first glance. Keep your CV/resume two pages or less.  If it is more they most probably won’t read it.

If you are a little bit older, like me, decide where to stop in time. Including working for McDonald’s 35 years ago will probably make your resume too long.

Add your experience working  in specific job areas if you are interested in teaching in a specific field such as Business English, Science English, Hospitality English – it will better your chances and strengthen your position.


Most countries will ask you to attach a photo to your resume. Generally this should be a passport size photo, attached to the top left corner, or it is usually okay to print it on your resume. If you put it on the wrong corner it is not such a big deal, don’t worry.

Age, Marital Status, Sex, Nationality, Dependents

You should get used to providing this information – if you don’t, your resume might end up in the trash. If your resume is without this information they will assume that you are hiding something.  A language school will want to know right away if you have a wife (or husband) and six kids who will need to live with you in the tiny studio apartment they provide for their teachers.   There are reasons for everything that you can’t quite understand – yet.

You are going to a different country with a different culture – you won’t think the same or have the same standards as them, get used to it and enjoy the difference.

Be creative

If you make your resume creative – like adding color – you will not just blend in, you will stand out. Find some creative resumes on Google. Give it a shot, but don’t go overboard.

I once received a resume in which a guy and his girlfriend were both looking for jobs so they split the page right down in the middle, with his resume on the left and her resume on the right. Not a good idea and not recommended.

Ted’s Tips™ #1: Have a professionally taken photograph ready to add to your resume, dress well in work attire, be neat and show a warm smile. Appearance is an important aspect in a lot of cultures, be professional – always. Make at least twenty copies, you will need them.

Ted’s Tips™ #2: Put all your important, must-know information, on the top of your resume. If you put your qualifications for the position right at the top, you will help your employer with the screening process. Don’t make them go on a hunt for a reason to hire you.  Just give it to them by making it visible.

Teaching Internships in China





Author: Ted

Semi-retired EFL teacher/teacher-trainer working and living abroad since 1989 in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.