Are Resumes and CVs for Teaching English Overseas the same as “Back Home”?
Generally speaking, no.
Get used to the idea that the work scene overseas is very different from the one back home. Employers WILL want to see your photograph. Will ask you about your family. Will ask your age. Will ask if you are married, maybe even why not, if you aren’t.
Okay, not always, but it is not unusual, overseas, for people to ask many questions that would be illegal in many Western countries. In their country they are legal and, in their eyes, legitimate questions.
They Have Their Reasons
Work visas for English Teachers often require that your passport be from a country they deem as being English speaking. Age, is sometimes limited for certain kinds of visas. Men, may not be allowed to teach at a women’s school (Saudi Arabia for example) and on and on.
Get over it
Decide now if these issues really bother you. If they do – you may have some difficulty landing a job – or even surviving in non-Westernized countries.
What to put on your Resume or CV
Traditional resumes are fine, but be sure to put the essential information near the top where your potential employer can see it quickly. Technically, a CV is a much more academically-oriented form and more detailed, but you’ll find the terms resume and CV used somewhat interchangeably overseas. Keep them both to two pages or less, anything more than that is probably not going to get read.
If you are an older person, like me, put a cut off point in time to limit how long your resume will be. Do they really need to know that you worked for McDonalds 35 years ago?
Conversely, if you are very interested in teaching in a particular specialty – Business English, Science English, Hospitality English – be sure to include your experience in that area to strengthen your position.
Most countries will want a photo attached to your resume. Passport size, top left corner. Not everywhere is the same, but not a big deal if you put it on the wrong corner. It is usually okay if you print it on the resume.
Make sure you dress and appear professionally in the photo. You won’t believe the photos people submit when applying for jobs. It is as if all reason hath departed when heading overseas.
Age, Marital Status, Sex, Nationality, Dependents
Get used to it now. If you don’t include this information, and the employer has many applicants, guess where your resume will go. In some countries, if you do not include this information, they will assume you are hiding something.
Get used to the idea that not everyone thinks the way you do or has the same rules or standards. That people and cultures and countries are different is what makes the world all so interesting.
It’s okay to be creative
Avoid templates, you blend into the background as if you weren’t there. Try something creative. Use color, give it shot. Try a Google search for “creative resumes”. But don’t go too overboard.
I once had someone give me a resume in which a guy and his girlfriend were both looking for jobs so they split the page down the middle with his resume on the left and hers on the right. Not recommended.
Ted’s Tips™ #1: Put a professionally taken photograph on your resume with you dressed in formal work attire with a pleasant smile. Many cultures put heavy emphasis on appearances. Appear professional, it will make a difference. Have at least twenty copies made. I promise you will need them.
Ted’s Tips™ #2: Put what the employer needs to know at the top of your resume. Help the employer screen you in by putting your qualifications for the position right at the top. Don’t make them search for a reason to hire you. Give to them right up front – at the top.