Once you have completed your chosen TEFL certification course, it is time to start sending out applications for the teaching jobs that catch your eye, whether they are within your own country, overseas, or online. Unfortunately, some people underestimate the importance of their CV/resume and how it is absolutely crucial in getting you an interview ahead of all the other applicants for the same job. First impressions really do count, which is why it is vital that the documents you send out should be properly thought out. So what exactly should be included in a TEFL resume?
The first thing to realize here is that in most countries around the world there are less restrictions on personal information than in the USA. In many cases, international employers will expect to find out more from your resume than you may be used to providing. In this section you will need to include your full name, nationality (and any citizenship, work/residency visas you hold), age, gender, and marital status. This is also where you should add all your contact details, including phone number (with international dialing code), email, Skype, Zoom, etc.
Although this is not normal practice when applying for many jobs, it is generally expected within the TEFL industry as most interviews are conducted remotely and employers are often keen to make sure you look professional in appearance. When choosing a photo for your resume, you should consider the following points:
- Avoid sending passport or selfie style photos
- Choose a photo where you look like a teacher, i.e. confident, professional, and approachable
- The photo should be clear and around 600 to 1,000 pixels wide
- Send it as an attachment or as a small picture in the top corner of your resume
- Use common sense when picking a suitable picture (not holding a beer, for example)
Education and Qualifications
The first thing to mention in this section is your TEFL related qualifications, along with the dates they were completed. You should also add the number of study hours that each course included. You can also highlight any specific features of these courses if they are particularly relevant to the position, i.e. modules in teaching young learners, business related English, teaching practice, etc.
Next you should add your other teaching qualifications, if you are also a qualified teacher with a PGCE, BEd or similar. Once again, include the date you became qualified, where you completed your studies, and the subjects included.
Next comes your degree, if you have one. Details such as the university, subject, grade, and date of completion should all be included here.
Following the degree, you can add any additional higher education qualifications you have been awarded, especially those that have any relevance to teaching. Anything connected to working with young people could well support your application. However, it is best not to include every single certificate you have ever been awarded if they are not relevant. You might be very proud of your certificate for swimming 50 meters underwater, but it is not likely to impress international employers looking for their next English language teacher.
Finally, you should list your school qualifications, including the subjects, grades, school of attendance, and dates of completion. You might also want to highlight any English or foreign language subjects here. If you have already acquired a long list of post-school qualifications or if your school days are just a distant memory, it is fine to leave out irrelevant subjects or grades.
In this section you should list all your previous jobs in reverse order, making sure you include the position, the employer, the location, and the employment dates for each entry. It is a good idea to add a brief summary of your responsibilities and achievements in each of your previous roles. You should also explain any significant gaps in your employment history, whether it was for travel, study, or illness etc.
When adding information in this section you need to consider what is relevant to potential employers and what is of little interest. Anything that could be seen as coaching, training, or mentoring in the workplace is definitely worth highlighting. Equally, if you are applying for a business English teaching position, any experience within the business world is certainly relevant. Just remember that potential employers do not want to waste their time reading in-depth accounts about the six months you spent selling burgers during your high school years.
Any voluntary roles can also be added at this point, with particular emphasis given to any teaching, training, or presentation experience you gained through these roles.
It is worth remembering that the people who end up reading your resume may not be native English speakers, so it is best to avoid any industry jargon. Keep your language simple, clear, and concise.
In this section you have the chance to add any other information that you have not already included that might be relevant to the role or employer you are applying to. Once again, keep it short and only include relevant information such as:
- Any other training or leadership roles you have had outside of work
- Any travel experience or experience of living outside your country of birth
- Relevant foreign language skills
- Additional skills, such as computer literacy, driving license, first aid certificate, etc
- A brief mention of your main hobbies to give a glimpse of your personality
- Any connection or interest with the culture of the country where the job is located
As you are applying for a job teaching the English language it is vital that your resume is free from spelling and grammar mistakes. Go over it carefully several times and also ask friends or family to take a look as a fresh pair of eyes can often spot small errors that we can easily miss on our own. The finished article should also be no more than two pages long. If it is over this then you really need to trim it back. Once you are happy that everything is as it should be, save the file under a name that is clearly identifiable as belonging to you, such as CV-JoeBloggs-TEFL.pdf.
By following this simple guide to creating a TEFL CV/resume you should give yourself the best possible chance of securing an interview for the jobs you really want.