by Robert Minor
ESL Teaching Job Resume Tips
Are you in need of some ESL job resume tips? For over 15 years, I have been reading ESL teaching job resumes and interviewing perspective teachers to teach at one of my language schools in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
After hundreds of in person and online interviews(prepare for your online interview here) in addition to receiving and reading close to 1,000 resumes, I am still shocked at the number of candidates who rule themselves out of a job due to their inability to create a clean organized document to introduce themselves, and thus lose the chance of being one of the first considered for the job. I’ve got some tips that can improve your ESL job resume and get you the teaching job you want.
Tons of ESL Jobs
Yes, I know, there are tons of ESL teaching jobs out there and you’re bound to land somewhere, but the point is, do you want to just land somewhere, or have a say in the kind of country, city, institution you want to work at? And let’s not forget, there are tons of candidates as well.
Schools are Discerning
Many directors and hiring managers are more discerning than you may think. Especially those at high quality schools. A well-done application packet can get your CV to the top of the pile no matter if you’re old, young, an experienced teacher or not.
7 ESL job resume tips
Personal cover letter or quick personal email
Candidates are sending out esl teaching job resumes in mass when applying. I get it. It’s tedious and repetitive and can get down-right frustrating. BUT…
AVOID the temptation to write a generic cover letter to the “hiring manager” telling how much you want to teach at my school. PLEASE!!!
If the job ad gives a name of the hiring director, address a cover letter or your email to THAT PERSON. A big turnoff for me is to get a Dear Director, or To Whom It May Concern introduction.
Also, direct your quick introduction to the place you are applying. Taiwan, Japan, UAE? Then write that in the introduction and why you want to come to that country. Also, who is the student body? Address why you want to teach those types of students. Kids? Adults? Pre-K?
The more personal that short introduction is, the more I know a candidate is interested in the position at my school and has taken the time to do a little research and carefully read my job ad.
Good schools don’t want generic! They want people who have taken the time to research their schools. Believe me, we can tell when a candidate is just fishing for any offer.
Work History — Teaching Experience?
Write out the most important, and recent job experiences you have had. Add the dates you worked there. Add a brief description or bullet points of what the job entailed or what you may have learned from this job. This is Resume Writing 101.
AVOID jobs from high school or quick summer flings. Unimportant.
No teaching experience? Look at your work history. Have you trained people? Done workshops? Been a camp counselor? Coached a team? Been a leader? Done any public speaking like debates or acting? HIGHLIGHT these skills. A large part of teaching is being comfortable talking in front of others and guiding people to learn a skill or work cooperatively.
Even if you haven’t taught a class per se, that doesn’t mean you haven’t learned some of the skills needed to do so. Dig deep and find something for an ESL teaching job resume.
ADD A DIGITAL DEMO-Show me what you got!
The digital demo has been my rant for the past few years. Almost everyone nowadays is applying for ESL jobs online. In the “old” days, I conducted all interviews in person and then asked candidates to do a quick teaching demo in front of a live class. This allowed us to see how a teacher talked, behaved, and interacted with students.
Candidates should add digital teaching demos as part of their resume packet. If you add a digital demo to your resume packet, trust me, you will make an impression (a good one hopefully). Also, at this point, most candidates do not add any digital content. It hasn’t caught on yet.
What is a Digital Demo?
A digital demo is a short video of you teaching in your class. Film yourself doing a lesson, activity, or game. Edit it to 2-4 minutes and upload it to YouTube. Then add the link to your application email, or better yet on a .pdf of your resume.
You should film yourself teaching at any teaching job you do. This gives directors like me a true look at your potential in the classroom.
What if you don’t have a video of yourself teaching? No problem.
As I mentioned above, do you have video of yourself public speaking, debating, acting? Any of these is better than nothing. ALSO, you can do a mock teaching video of yourself pretending to teach to a class. It is difficult, but you only need about 4 minutes of content to give a director a look at what you are capable of.
The best CV I got was from a Moroccan teacher who not only sent me 3 videos of himself in the classroom, but also complemented it with the lesson plan of each video. AWESOME!
NO SPELLING OR GRAMMAR MISTAKES
I won’t say much here. There is no excuse for this. You are applying for an English teacher position. If you can’t show that you are detailed enough to edit your own CV or use the English language properly, why would I hire you? Make sure your ESL teaching job resume is clean.
SOCIAL MEDIA SIGNATURE
Nowadays, many candidates have social media pages or contact methods. List the relevant ones at the top of your resume.
Examples of this include your SKYPE address, LinkedIn address, or anything else that may help you professionally. I would deter against adding Facebook or Instagram or YouTube links unless they are strictly showing your professional interest or a hobby that you’re interested it. One candidate at my school was an avid photographer and listed his Instagram account that displayed only his work.
PHOTOS AND BIRTH DATE
In North America, showing your photo and birth date are not common application practices. However, for teaching jobs overseas, school directors are expecting to match a face and age with the candidate.
Make sure you have a nice photo of yourself pinned to the resume. Add the birth date at the top along with your personal information. Directors will eventually see you anyways via an interview or aforementioned digital demo.
CERTIFICATIONS, AWARDS, ADDITIONAL TRAINING
As with any job, as you continue to learn and grow in your career, you want to highlight your ambition and new knowledge.
TESOL, CELTA, TEFL, Google Certification, workshops attended? Highlight these! Give a brief description of what you’ve learned and the dates you did it.
Did you receive a certificate? Take a photo and upload it to your resume email packet!!
Final Words on ESL Job Resume Tips
Applying for ESL teaching jobs online can be daunting. Be patient. But, be professional, and do your best to construct a resume packet that shows as much as you can to a hiring director.
When all else fails, you can do it the old-fashioned way.
Pick a city, show up, and apply in person. It still works!! Good luck!!
Robert Minor is the founder and director of Robert’s American School in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Robert’s teaches young learners through content-based instruction. He holds a B.A from Bowdoin College and a Master’s Degree in Education from Framingham State University. He is a fluent Mandarin speaker and avid hiker. Robert at LinkedIn