Just Who are You? Your TEFL Resume-CV

Just Who ARE You? Put It On Your TEFL Resume

Ready to get a TEFL Job? Great! But before you start sending out applications for a job in your new career teaching English as a Foreign Language, it pays to craft a great resume. If you’ve ever had a job before, you’re familiar with most of the aspects of a decent resume. But, there are a few points you’ll need to consider when you look at sending out resumes to jobs overseas.

A Resume By Any Other Name

First of all, we call that sheet of paper with all your vitals and work experience on it a “resume” in the States. But in many countries they call it a CV, short for “curriculum vitae.” In the US, a CV and a resume are two different animals—CVs being longer and more detailed and academically oriented, and resumes being short and sweet. But when you’re perusing job listings for first-time teaching jobs, when you see a CV is required, rest assured, they want your resume.

All Your Deets—Name, Age, Sex and Nationality

Secondly, resumes for TEFL jobs often incorporate some information that you wouldn’t ordinarily put on a resume in many Western countries.  Where we shy away from including photos, age, gender, place of birth and nationality on domestic resumes, when you apply to a company overseas, they’re usually looking for this information somewhere handy where they can reference it.  I recommend putting all this information up top on the resume’s header.

A lot of first-time teachers from the West feel uncomfortable about adding a photo to their resume. But, look at it this way. The school you’re applying to overseas will probably hire you without an interview at all—or possibly only with a phone interview. It’s unlikely that they’ll meet with you face to face, so they’ll want a photo to help remember who you are and be able to recognize you when you do get hired. They also want to see if you look presentable—do you have facial piercings? Did you bother to find a photo that makes you look professional? While it’s illegal in some countries to discriminate based on appearance, unfortunately in many countries where TEFL jobs are located, it’s expected that they will take how you look into consideration.

Age, nationality and gender are also important additions on the resume, for practical reasons. Some countries, like China, have age restrictions on the visas for foreign teachers. It makes sense that schools know your age up front so that they know right away if they can get you a visa or not. Nationality is important for the same reason. The institution may be restricted by local laws to hiring certain passport holders. And gender, while there are fewer restrictions regarding this, might be a necessary factor for your employer’s consideration when you are applying to all-boys or all-girls schools, or in certain countries in the Middle East. Also, people who speak English as a foreign language (e.g. your new employer) may not know just from your name if you’re a man or a woman.

What You Did and Where You Did It

On the bottom part of the resume, you’ll be expected to write your education and your relevant work experience.

If you’re a true newbie and have never taught TEFL before, you might be worried that your resume looks a bit sparse.  That’s OK.  If you don’t have any teaching-related jobs to put down, I recommend listing your education or training experience before you detail your work experience. If you’ve completed a TEFL certificate, be sure to list it prominently and write in the description how many hours it took and if you did it, how many hours of observed teaching practice. You can describe the kinds of observed teaching practice that you did, too. (Young learners, one-on-one, etc.) Don’t forget to put all of your higher education down as well on your resume, even if your degree or training programs were not related to TEFL. A bachelor’s degree or higher is necessary for getting some working visas, so it’s a good idea to list it, even if it’s in molecular biology or something else completely unrelated to teaching English.

You can also include any coaching or mentoring experiences you’ve had in the past in different jobs or volunteer positions, because while they’re not strictly TEFL related, a good boss will recognize that the skills cross over.

For the work experience portion of your resume, highlight jobs that had to do with coaching, training or mentoring, and leave off long descriptions of irrelevant positions. You may be proud of your 14 years in retail—and rightly so—but the people hiring at a language school are mostly interested in the fact that you held a job for that long, not in the ins and outs of what you accomplished while on the job.

Try to keep your resume to one page, or two at the most. For this reason, most TEFL resumes I’ve seen leave off unrelated bits that we sometimes see on other kinds of resumes. Skills, hobbies, conferences and other bits of bio-data are not necessary to include on your TEFL resume unless they’re somehow teaching or language related. Do include a section about your foreign language abilities, if any.

Include references if you have enough space to do so.  If not, just note that they are available on request.  Surprisingly few employers actually follow up on references even though they really should, but that’s a different story.

So there  you go . . .   Good luck and happy job hunting!

TED’s Tips™ #1:   Keep your resume short and sweet, but if you have relevant coaching, mentoring or training experience, don’t forget to include it

TED’s Tips™ #2:   Cultivate and include references who can speak to your mentoring, training or coaching abilities, even if they’ve never seen you in an EFL context.

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How to Get that Job Teaching English Abroad

Click on the eBook cover to sign up for a FREE copy

TEFL eBooks is releasing the second edition of their classic How to Land a Job Teaching English Abroad.  It’s subtitled, What you must know for an effective job search and its packed full of little tips to help you succeed.  This eBook is also free over at TEFL Boot Camp HERE.

If you signed up for the FREE second edition of How to Teach English Overseas that we featured last week, you will get this eBook automatically.

The eBook is designed to help you find your way around the more common pitfalls of those looking for work abroad.

Section One of this publication includes tips on how to respond to an advertisement.  Section Two explains how resumes and CVs are different when applying for a teaching job in the non-Western world.  Do you know you need to have your photo on that resume?

Section Three gives you some tips about how to better market yourself.   Section Four will give you some insights about contracts.

Most important of all . . . do know what employers are really looking for?  A grammar whiz?  A perfect accent (whatever that is!)?  Most employers are looking for someone who is friendly and easy to get along with.  Of course, they want to know also that you are reliable and stable, but everyone looks for that.  Workplace harmony is a more important factor outside the Western world most of us are familiar with.

The second edition of this book is an update of the original so if you are on the mailing list already,  you have the older copy.   You probably don’t want to get on the mailing list twice (as enjoyable as that might be 🙂 ), so use the contact form HERE and ask us to just directly send the new version to you.

This newer version should be a lot easier to read on a iPad or other tablet type reader.  We’ll have a Kindle version out eventually.

Ted’s Tips™ #1:  The price is right, so grab a free copy even if you are an old hand.  You might pick up a new trick or two. As always, let us know what you think of it.

TESOL TEFL Job Search Tips

[Note: in the previous post, I wrote about finding a job that capitalizes on your personal work history and talents. When you are searching for a job, doing this will help you stand out from the crowd. The following article will expand on the last. Happy reading!]

In today’s blog post I want to emphasize a point I made previously: that you should not only apply to schools which are advertising, but also apply to other schools in your target area that you think might be a good fit for you. I have been lucky enough to get three out of four of my last jobs this way—in colleges/universities which were not advertising vacancies at the time I approached them.

I feel that there are quite a few reasons why this is a great strategy, and here are two of the most compelling:

1. Advertising for teachers takes up valuable time

Hiring new teachers is a lengthy, time-consuming process and schools often don’t have enough knowledgeable office staff to do a thorough job of it. In fact, the person whose responsibility it is to take on new teachers probably has other full-time tasks (like teaching their own classes). This human resources staff shortage makes it an ideal situation for you to walk in, greet the department head, and talk your way into a job. Even if all you do is send an email or package with your resume and friendly photo, you’ll be on their minds as a go-getter.

2. The odds are in your favor

One time a friend of mine was looking for a new job in a big city. He wanted a job in a language school.  In that city there were about ten suitable schools, and I figured that each school had between four and eight teachers. Now, because these schools were mostly reliant on recruiters to find them new native-speaking foreign teachers, they very rarely advertised, even when they had a vacancy.  In other words, they were paying a lot of money to a recruiter to find someone for them.

My friend said he was reluctant to go to the schools and ask about jobs. But I think he should have done that. If we break down the numbers, we can see that if there are ten schools with an average of six teachers, then there are about sixty teachers working between all the schools. This means that potentially there could be an opening for a new teacher every week of the year.

Rationalizing that most teachers would give four weeks’ notice before leaving a job, then you can guess that there are about four openings that schools would know about at any given time. That equates to a big chance that a school my friend approached with his resume looking for work would either have a position available to offer him or be aware of an opening at another school. (Teachers tend to hang out together, even if from different schools)

Put yourself in the shoes of the school administrator—how nice would it be to be spared the time (and expense!) of advertising for, interviewing and selecting candidates for that job, and just offer it to an enterprising teacher who happened to knock on the right door at the right time?

Ted’s Tips™ #1: Stop waiting to see an advertisement—go get the job you want.

Ted’s Tips™ #2: Network. If you are polite and friendly when you approach a school for a job, they may tell you another place to look for work if they are unable to hire you themselves. This is especially true in colleges and universities, which might be well-connected between branches and departments and will likely know of other openings coming up.

Really, it comes down to: Why fight the competition? Just out-think them!

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TEFL Job Search Tips: #1

Job Search in TEFL

If you read the previous post about finding a TEFL position where you can use your special set of skills, knowledge and experience, you will understand that finding these types of positions puts you ahead of the job search game, ahead of the pack looking for any type of English teaching job.

Today I want to bring to your attention that you should not only apply to schools advertising jobs but also to apply to those schools not advertising – this might your best strategy. The last three of my four college/university teaching jobs I got at schools that were not advertising at the time.

I believe there are many reasons why it is better to apply using this strategy, but I will highlight the two most important reasons:

Schools often prefer not to advertise and interview candidates.

It is more than common that schools don’t have a human resources team to advertise jobs and interview potential teachers. The time-consuming task of interviewing, sifting through applications and asking questions is usually done by a teacher that is already busy with teaching, their own responsibilities and daily tasks.

Taking part in the hiring process can be a tiring process for these teachers, something that will not make them jump for joy. If a qualified candidate presents themselves in person or sends a CV/resume with a photo via mail – for a current job opening, or an opening coming soon – this will lift the weight from their shoulders.

The Numbers Game

My friend once looked for a job in a language school in a city with about ten major schools. Most of these schools had four to eight teachers, they were looking for a native-speaking foreigner but they rarely advertised and had no clue how to get someone for the position without using a recruiter.

My friend was hesitant to apply for unadvertised positions.

But if you have a look at the numbers, you’ll figure that there are ten schools with about six teachers each. If you do the math that means sixty teachers rotating in and out….so on average, one opening every week.

There is a 40% opportunity that any one of those schools will have an opening or an opening coming up. Usually people will give a month’s notice (toward the end of their one-year contract) at those schools which means there will be at least four openings that schools know about at any one time.

If they don’t have to go through all the time-consuming interviews their workload will surely be less!

Ted’s Tips™ #1: Time is what you make of it, don’t wait for the advertisement, go out and get the job.

Ted’s Tips™ #2:  If you are polite, friendly and searching for a job in an appropriate manner, you may well be lucky enough to hear about an opening at a school through another school, college or university.

Get ahead of the game, out think your competition.

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TEFL Job Options: More than you Know

What kind of TEFL job can I look for?

We have no idea how many types of TEFL jobs exists…more than what we know of, more than we can imagine.

EFL instruction is needed in almost every area of any kind of International business and or industry.

Most non-English speaking countries have big EFL industries to teach English to children and or adults. Their universities have EFL programs for students.  But these are the more traditional jobs.

More TEFL Options

International airlines often need EFL training for their staff, as well as travel agencies and tour guides, resorts and hotels, scuba instructors and just about anyone who is dealing with tourism and hospitality.

International hospitals in major cities around the world hire EFL staff to teach their nurses and staff how to communicate with their patients, who come from around the world.

EFL instruction is even needed in the Army, Navy and Air Force as well as the Police Force in countries and cities where English speaking tourists and residents are common.

This is good news!

This means that as a newbie in the TEFL world you may be able to find a teaching job related to your interest and previous employment. If you have the experience in a specific field you would be considered a natural. You will have the knowledge of the special vocabulary and specific terminology. You willl be the preferred hire.

Keep an open mind

You need to get creative looking for all those job possibilities. They exist but not all of them are traditionally, regularly and widely advertised. The most obvious place to ask about these jobs would be the Internet’s TEFL discussion boards. Be careful though, many of these jobs might are not familiar to the typical poster on the Internet’s TEFL discussion boards and you may hear your question or idea pooh-poohed.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Find a job related to your skills and experience.

Almost everyone has a unique set of skills, talent and experiences in different fields. If your skills are worth anything, exploit them and use them to your advantage.

TED’s Tips™ #2: The best job might not be splashed online

If you are looking for an English teaching job in a specific field, don’t expect to find the job in the traditional ‘TEFL teaching jobs’ section online. It might not be advertised in the usual way. It might not be advertised at all!

One of the best examples is the Resort and Hospitality Industry. Many major five and six star resorts don’t advertise their job openings because they will get swamped with eager applications from eager applicants wanting to get a “dream job” in a resort setting. If you have experience in the hospitality industry (waiter/waitress, hostess etc), take the chance and call the resort to present yourself, even if it is unexpected.

An example from the past: A few years ago LeMeridien Resort on Phuket Island advertised for an English Teacher. Sixty people applied, but only twenty were willing to travel to Phuket for the interview. In the end only three showed up! If you have the specific industry experience and if you know what and how to teach, you have a huge advantage!

TED’s Tips™ #3: If you want to work in an “outside the box” occupation like TEFL, it is good to consider conducting your job search in a non-traditional manner. There are some quite unusual settings for you to work. More options than you can imagine.

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