Does your CV or résumé suffer from sick CV syndrome?
If you’re job hunting, it’s time to check your TEFL/TESOL curriculum vitae to make sure it’s working for you and not against you. At Global English TESOL we see hundreds of résumés from TESOL teachers and trainers every year and it’s surprising how even CVs from the most well-qualified and experienced teachers can still shout NO! to a prospective employer.
So does your résumé suffer from sick CV syndrome? Check for the three most common symptoms and get it remedied straight away.
Here are three common cv/résumé problems:
1. wrong CV emphasis: equal weight given to non-teaching jobs/experience
2. no personal profile or human appeal
3. poor layout
Let’s look at these one by one.
1. Wrong CV emphasis
When writing a CV you may be tempted to list your jobs in chronological order, explaining your current job first. Don’t, unless your current employment is teaching. The first rule of CV writing is not to make your prospective employer hunt for key information. Structure your CV with a TEFL qualifications header and TEFL experience header near the top because this is the key information the employer will be scanning for.
Under the headers include lots of TEFL-rich details; what books you have used e.g. Headway, Business Result etc., as well as levels you have prepared for. State the groups you have taught - children, adults and any 1:1 work.
Include key strengths you possess, especially if you can back this up with comments from students, boss or a trainer. Admittedly this part is harder if you have no experience but you can still write about your course in some detail to show an employer the areas you have covered and excel in. So dig deep.
If you have non-TESOL experience, that’s good too. We suggest giving less detail about irrelevant jobs but highlight any training, materials development or presentations you have done in these roles. Your CV should shout TEFL/TESOL teacher as much as possible and not former insurance salesman who’s just done a TESOL course.
2. No personal profile or human appeal
Always include a personal profile right at the top of your CV which should be an overview of you in two-four full sentences, so the employer gets a sense of the person behind the bullet points. Sound enthusiastic and upbeat.
"I’m an enthusiastic qualified EFL teacher keen to..."
Always attach or include a smiley passport-sized photo (or jpeg if applying electronically).
3. Poor layout
Is your TEFL CV nicely spaced out? Is the font too small? Are there clear headers under which the relevant information fits logically? Employers may sift through 20 or 30 CVs at a time so if you make sure yours is user-friendly your potential employer will already be warm to you. Don’t frustrate them by running onto more than two pages. If you have to use three or squash it into two, it’s time to trim! Remember, two pages is optimum.
The last word
If you have spent time and money on a TESOL course, don’t throw it away with a poor representation of your efforts. Take some time to make your CV stand out. An employer is asking themselves ‘why this person?’ when they look at your CV. Make it clear and easy for them to find the information that says you fit the bill.
All Global English TESOL courses contain information on writing a good TEFL CV and having one is an important first step on your TEFL journey.
The next step is succeeding at TESOL interview. With just a bit of preparation and thought, you can make the CV and interview process work in your favour. And stand a much better chance of hearing the words You’re hired! Get your suitcase packed and good luck!
In the meantime:
Hope things are going well in the U.K.
I think a couple of sample CVs might
make it clearer as to how we should
be formatting them.
Thank you for these timely pointers ...having finished my TESOL course last month I am now ready to prepare my CV...and Global English were here right on cue as ever!
Thanks for the comments - and you're right, Mike.
I have now attached a template. (Click on link in top blue box.) I've provided some ideas as to why I've included certain information in red boxes on the CV itself.
This fictional character is a mature candidate with no TEFL experience so hopefully you'll see how we can maximise relevant credentials and minimise less relevant information to really enhance his profile. Would welcome any comments!
This advice contradicts common sense and current best practices in listed by HR professionals.
Things to consider:
Why use up space to include useless information (such as what a great person you are etc.)? Is anyone going to actually write something that's not self serving?
Chronological CV's are, for the most, part the way to go.
Testimonials reek of insincerity. Provide solid, relevant references instead.
To be continued...
Thanks for the comment, Michael. I agree, you should not go overboard on the profile and back it any claims with with examples if you can. But, the point about a CV is to 'sell' yourself and if you don't, another candidate will. Pure experience listed in chronological order may well win the day if you are exceptionally experienced but everyone else will have to make their CV work harder. Most TEFL employers are not HR professionals, will be wading through many applications and won't want to dig for information. References are usually only taken up once the job offer is made so it is too late by then. Sorry, but I can't stress this enough; signpost and highlight the key elements you want to draw out and show your employer something of the person behind the CV. This is particularly important in TEFL - especially when applying to an overseas position where they won't see you before an offer is made.
I have to agree with Louisa on this, Michael. As a former manager from the UK, I have found things work quite differently here in Hong Kong, particularly when it comes to TEFL.
My CV is still currently in it's 'UK Manager' form, which, although I have been teaching regular cover classes since Aug 2011, has not yet bagged me a full-time contract.
Here, they expect native english teachers to LOOK native, and I have been asked over the phone on many occasions, the colour of my skin, eyes and hair. This seems to matter more than qualifications and even experience. In the west, it's the other way around.
So I'm going to follow this template, and will post my results in due course.
Paul Barlow, Lamma Island, Hong Kong.
Thanks for your helpful comments. Have you seen the template CV link as a suggestion at the top of the page? Hope this helps. Shocking that you are asked these questions about skin colour etc. in this day and age but sadly, this does echo what I've heard about teaching English in Hong Kong. Good luck, Paul!
Great article - thank you!
thanks for sharing these wonderful tips. I found another article on this topic: http://eteachershub.com/2015/03/25/write-a-tesol-resume-that-will-get-you-hired/
They suggest to add a voice file to resume especially if you are non-naitve English speaker.
Do you think it will help in job hunting? I was even thinking to record a youtube video to present my skills. I am just afraid it will be too much.
I want to find a job in China. Thanks in advance for your answer!
Thanks for your post and glad you found the article helpful. (I actually wrote the article you referred to in your post.) Yes, I think a short YouTube video or voice file can reassure employers as to your English level. Plus it is a way to show something of your personality. It does not need to be elaborate but clear and confident and friendly. Good luck!
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