What should be on a TESOL resume?
When you are ready to start applying for teaching jobs, at home, abroad, or online, it is important not to underestimate how crucial your resume is. Your resume is your chance to make a good first impression and is often the difference between getting an interview or being cast aside. The document you send along with your application needs to be highly professional in appearance and it needs to contain everything the employer needs to know. Put simply, if the information is not there in the first place the employer is unlikely to chase after it. Now we have established the importance of your resume, what do we actually need to include in it?
One important thing to be aware of is that many countries around the world have less restrictions on obtaining personal information through job applications than you typically find in the USA or some European countries. Depending on the location and employer, you might need to divulge more than you are used to when applying for ESL teaching jobs. In this part of the resume you will generally need to include your full name, nationality (and any citizenship, work/residency visas you hold), age, gender, and marital status. In this section you should also add your contact details, including phone number (with international dialing code), email, Skype, Zoom, etc.
Including a photo of yourself in a job application is not normal practice in many areas of employment, but in ESL teaching it is commonly expected. This is partly due to the fact that many job interviews are carried out online and employers want to ensure you have a professional appearance before taking things any further. When picking the right photo for your resume, you should consider the following points:
- Passport and selfie style photos are best avoided.
- Your photo should demonstrate the look of a teacher, i.e. confident, professional, and approachable.
- The photo should be clear and around 600 to 1,000 pixels wide.
- It can be sent as an attachment or included in the top corner of your resume.
- Always use common sense when choosing a photo (not posing with a beer in hand, for example)
Education and Qualifications
The most important thing to start off with here is your TESOL qualifications and the dates you completed them. It is also a good idea to include the amount of study hours involved in each course. You should also highlight any of the specific features included in the course if it is relevant to the position you are applying for, i.e. units covering the teaching of young learners, business related English, or online teaching, for example.
If you happen to be a fully qualified mainstream teacher with a PGCE, BEd or similar, you should add that next, along with the date you qualified, where you studied , and the subjects covered.
If you have a degree in any subject, you can add that in next. Make sure you include important details such as the university where you studied, the subject, grade, and date of completion.
At this point you can add any additional higher education qualifications you have earned, with a particular focus on any that have any relevance to teaching. Anything that involves working with young people could certainly be useful in supporting your application. However, you should avoid including every single certificate you have ever been awarded if they are not particularly relevant to the position you are applying for. You might be extremely proud of your certificate for winning the junior cross country tournament when you were ten years old, but unfortunately international employers are unlikely to feel the same.
At the end of this section you should list your school qualifications, including the subjects, grades, school of attendance, and dates of completion. It might also be a good idea to highlight any English or foreign language subjects that you did well at. However, if your school days are just a distant memory or your post-school qualifications take up a large amount of space it is fine to leave out irrelevant subjects or grades.
Here you should list all your previous jobs in reverse order. Make sure you include details such as the position, the employer, the location, and your dates of employment for each one. You might also want to include a brief summary of your responsibilities and achievements in each of these jobs to show the employer what you have learned along the way. If you have any significant gaps in your employment history it is best to explain the reasons, whether it was for travel, study, or illness etc.
While it is important to include most of your work history, you should also consider what is actually relevant to the employer. Any form of coaching, training, or mentoring in the workplace is definitely something you should highlight to bolster your teaching credentials. Also, if the job is teaching business English, any previous experience you have had within the business world is certainly relevant. Similarly, do not waste too much space recounting your experience of a summer spent working in a fast food restaurant.
Don’t forget to include any voluntary roles you might have had, no matter how short term they were. Particular emphasis should be given to any teaching, training, or presentation type experience you gained through these roles.
One other important point that is often overlooked is the fact that the person reading your resume may not be a native English speaker. Try to avoid using any obscure industry jargon, just keep your language simple, clear, and concise.
This section gives you the chance to add any additional information that you think might be relevant to the role you are applying for or the specific employer. Once again, keep it clear and concise and only include relevant information such as:
- Any other training or leadership roles you have had outside of the workplace.
- Any travel experience or experience of living outside your home country.
- 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.
It might seem obvious but always keep in mind that you are applying for a job teaching the English language. Every piece of correspondence you submit to a potential employer needs to be free from any spelling or grammar mistakes. Always go through your application and resume multiple times and also ask friends or family members to take a look. It is amazing what our own eyes can miss, no matter how many times we read something through. Once complete, the resume should be no more than two pages long. If you find yours is longer then you should trim it back to the correct length. Once you are happy with the finished resume, you should save it under a filename that is clearly identifiable as belonging to you, such as CV-JohnSmith-TESOL.pdf.
If you follow this simple guide to creating a TESOL resume you should find you get positive feedback from employers and go on to secure interviews for the jobs that really interest you, no matter where they are in the world.