Only Relevant Information
As much as we think we should fill our resume up with all of our past work experience, from a Customer Service Representative position, to a call centre, to waitressing at your local university pub, it’s simply not all relevant to the teaching job. Keep only the teaching positions or relevant positions on the resume, and elaborate on the skills you demonstrated in each one. Ideally, you should have at least a few hours of volunteer or paid teaching or tutoring before applying for a TESOL job. If not, then by all means, add your Customer Service experience or that which is relevant. However, the position should be framed in a way that applies to teaching English or teaching in general. The best way to know if you are doing this is to read the job description. This takes me to our next point.
Tailor Your Resume To The Position
Read the job description thoroughly to get a clear sense of what the employer is looking for. If it helps, write down the salient points of the job description. Although every teaching role appears to be the same, each listed requirement for each job is unique. In addition to the requirements, find out everything you can about the school. This includes reading their website and doing a quick Google search. Research everything including the staff and job requirements. Find out what their approach is, what language do they use to describe their approach? Tailor your resume by using some of the same words from the school’s site. Insert this into your resume’s profile, in your positions’ descriptions and in your cover letter.
Grammar and Spelling
This should be evident, but make sure you review your resume and cover letter for all grammar and spelling or syntax errors. There are two creative ways to tackle this. First, you can print your resume off and review it after you’ve typed it up. Reading the resume on paper will change your perspective after spending hours looking at it in front of a screen. You’ll instantly notice errors that you may not have noticed on the computer. This is because it’s like looking at a brand new document! Second, send your resume to someone you know and trust who has a good eye (like me!) for grammar and spelling errors. It’s ideal to find someone who can also give you feedback on the structure of the resume. However, grammar and spelling feedback is the minimum to look for.
List Your TESOL Certification!
This may seem obvious, but you would be amazed at how many resumes I receive from certified teachers who do not even list the school they took their TEFL/TESOL from and when. If you list that you have TEFL/TESOL experience in the application, do not forget to mention this in the Education section of your resume along with when you took the course, how long it took you, how many hours of training you received and the institution from which you received it. Be sure to reach out to me to find out how to write the OnTESOL course accurately on the resume.
Make Your Resume Visually Appealing
Start out with the format. If you’re unsure where to start with the format, take a look at this site that helps you to build your perfect resume. The resume should read easily for the employer starting with your name and profile at the top, followed by your job experience on 1-2 pages. Make the resume colourful by listing your name and headings in a soothing neutral colour, that’s not overly bright. Make sure to add your picture at the top right hand corner, as well as your e-mail address, mailing address, Skype username, LinkedIn profile and website with your portfolio, if you have one. Here’s a great example of a digital portfolio and blog , our graduate Samantha, created. The more ways that the employer can get to know you personally, beyond your resume, the better, which brings me to the next point.
Highlight Your Personality
Get personal in your resume by including volunteer work, languages you speak, and awards you have won. Use language that creates a connection with the school such as: ‘fostering student development’, ‘establishing meaningful relationships’, ‘encourage students to feel welcome in the classroom’ and ‘creating a warm and inviting classroom environment’. The Human Resources Director is not looking to hire a resume, but a person who has a passion for teaching, learning and overall who has an outgoing personality.
Provide a Professional Photo
Unlike resumes that we create for positions in North America, ESL teaching jobs and in fact, any other position outside of North America requires a picture. Take the time and effort to seek out a professional photographer to take your picture. ESL Language School Directors are looking for healthy, fresh faced , young and confident-looking individuals. Please do not include selfies or photos with other individuals in the picture. The more time you take to invest in your own image, the more likely you are to land the best teaching job.
An Exercise in Introspection
Creating a good TEFL resume does require investing some time and a bit of elbow grease. It requires much personal reflection; reflection on your teaching experiences and on who you are as an individual. Reflect on why you are the best candidate. Think about being succinct in your language, as well. If you find yourself overwhelmed when you go to write your resume, sit down and free-write all of the qualities you admire about yourself. In addition, consider the skills you have developed from teaching, volunteering, your education and so on. The first step is in knowing who you are. Once you are confident in this, writing a creative resume and winning over your future employer will come much more easily to you.
By Clare Linton, Graduate and Recruitment Services Coordinator with OnTESOL.
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