Writing International Teacher Resumes to Target Teaching Abroad
Anyone who has ever applied for a teaching position knows the importance of having a quality, targeted resume and cover letter. Your teaching resume is the first impression a school or school district will see, making it imperative to standout. Usually, the employer will decide to interview or not to interview a candidate based solely on the resume and cover letter.
Resumes can be particularly important for individuals applying to teach internationally. If you are applying for a job outside of your home country, your resume may even be the only thing that your employer sees before you meet to sign a contract. Be sure to have an accomplishment-based, keyword-rich, and skills-focused resume that sets you apart from the other candidates. If you are applying to be an international teacher, be sure to do the following things in your resume.
At the Beginning of the Resume State Why You Want to Teach Internationally
When you apply to teach internationally, a common question that might puzzle your employer is why you want to take a job so far from home. Be sure to compose a clear and concise statement that explains your reason for wanting to teach abroad. This needs to be done at the start of the profile.
Also, be sure that that profile explains that you have the desire to help students succeed academically and socially. Schools do not want to see statements indicating that you want to teach internationally because you desire to travel the world. While this may be the driving factor leading you to seek a teaching job overseas, it will not give you a competitive advantage.
Mention Previous Travel Experience
You do not need to mention every vacation you have ever taken, but when you apply to teach internationally any traveling experiences abroad are important to mention. It's particularly significant to mention if you studied abroad while completing your education. Schools may be drawn to someone who is a more seasoned traveler because they look at your previous travel experiences as an indication that you will not easily become homesick and you will be committed to the responsibility of the position.
List Language Experience
List any languages that you speak, even just conversationally, in the profile or core competencies section. Even if the language that you speak is not the native language of the country in which you are applying to work, the fact that you can learn another language could help an employer determine that you would be a good choice. If you have never learned any other language, your employer may wonder why that is the case and be less inclined to hire you. However, by expressing that you are eager to learn a new language and discover the various aspects that make the culture so interesting and unique, you will still remain in good standing as a potential candidate.
If you are applying to work in a country in which English is not the primary language, you should consider having all or part of your resume translated. Employers in Germany would be very impressed by a resume they received from an American that was written in German. While it is not mandatory for success, having your resume translated shows that you are truly committed to the position for which you are applying. With this being said, a poorly translated resume is worse than a resume that is not translated at all. If you are going to have it translated, make sure you get quality translation services.
Don't Lose the Intent of Your Resume
Even though you are applying to teach abroad, the primary focus of your resume is still that of education. Make sure you include all key sections:
- Areas of Expertise / Core Competencies
- Formal Education and Credentials
- Teaching Experience
- Job Accomplishments
- Professional Development
- Professional Affiliations
- Publications and Presentations (if any)
- Community Involvement
The same idea goes for your cover letter. In this job application document you do want to focus on why you would like to teach abroad and how you can be an asset to that school; however, you must include your major career highlights, teaching skills, classroom management techniques, and additional traits you bring to the table. Above all, you are an educator, regardless of where you teach.
If You Already Have Experience Teaching Abroad
If you already have experience as an international educator, you are one step ahead of the competition! In your cover letter demonstrate how your prior experience positively influenced you as an educator, and why you are eager to embark on the endeavor once more. State where you taught, what type of school you were in, what skills you developed, and if you gained any language experience.
Before You Hop On the Next Plane
Before you pack your bags and fly half way around the world, take the time to research your countries of interest, and understand the requirements for entering the country and teaching within it. You should also look into local customs, laws, etiquette, and health and vaccination requirements. If you are a female instructor, take special care to understand how you will be treated in another country, what the local attire is for women, and so forth. The last thing you want to do is offend someone in your new country, particularly a student or fellow educator.
Teaching abroad presents a unique opportunity to see the world. It is just not feasible for most individuals to quit their day job and jaunt around the globe, but if you teach abroad, you can see the world without putting your career on hold. In addition, it affords you the opportunity to become immersed in the culture, learn a new language, discover the wonders of another country, and make lasting friendships with students and teachers alike.
So, you have found a TEFL job that’s exactly what you are looking for and you are ready to apply, but where do you start?
As well as a great CV, you should always send a well written cover letter (unless stated otherwise on the job description). A cover letter allows you to highlight your strengths stated on your CV in more depth, and should make it clear to the employer why they should hire you.
These Top Tips will help you write a great cover letter and hopefully land you your dream TEFL job!
Do some research into the company you are applying to. You need to make it clear that you know what the company does. You may wish to tell them what you like about the company, what attracts you to them etc.
2) Address the letter to the correct person
You should always try to find out the name of the person handling the job applications. If this is not listed in the job advert, you can phone the company to ask for a name. If you know the name of the person, then use Dear Mr ‘Smith’ or Dear Mrs ‘Smith.‘ If you do not know the name and cannot get this information then you can use Dear Sir or Dear Madam.
3) Provide evidence of your qualities
Pick out your top qualities (included in your CV) that are stated in the job advert/job specification and provide evidence to back these qualities up. For example, if you are trying to show you have ‘great communication skills’ – support this with evidence from previous employment or a University course. Perhaps you have experience of delivering presentations or working successfully in a team where communicating regularly was vital.
4) Don’t just focus on your qualifications
Yes, qualifications are great and often a requirement for many jobs, however employers want to hear about your skills and experience too. So, don’t forget to highlight these alongside your qualifications. If you have a TEFL qualification and have completed a classroom course – what skills did you gain from the classroom course? Do you have experience of working with children? Any skill or experience that is relevant to the position and that can enhance your application should be included.
5) Have a neat and well-presented cover letter
Ensure that your CV is typed in an easy-to-read font and is presented in a way that is presentable and simple to follow.
Always double check your spelling and grammar – even if you have used Spellcheck! Employers will be put off by a cover letter that has not been proofread and that is full of spelling errors and mistakes.
7) Keep it brief
Do not go on and on providing information that is not necessary. Keep it to the point and keep it concise – one side of A4 is sufficient.
8) Write individual cover letters for each position you apply for
You need to tailor the letter to suit the position that you are applying for. Show that you have made an effort – employers will know if you have just sent the same letter to ten different people.
9) Include your cover letter in the main body of your email
If sending via email – include your cover letter into your email rather that adding it as an attachment. This will stop your email from being detected by spam filters and getting sent straight to the employers ‘junk’ folder.
10) Be sure to include your contact details
Give the employer options of how to contact you, including email address, telephone number, skype details etc.
Layout of Cover Letter
Opening the Letter
This should be short and to the point. You should include why you are writing the letter, what position you are applying for and where you found the job advert.
Main content of letter
The next two or three paragraphs should state why you are applying for the position. What attracted you to the role? Why you are interested in working for the company? Why you think you are suitable for the job? What professional/academic qualifications do you have that are relevant to the role? Make sure you refer to the skills/qualifications listed in the job description. You need to show the employer what you can bring to the company.
Your final paragraph should reiterate your interest in the role and why think you are right for this specific position. Specify your desire for an interview – you can add when you’re available for an interview and when you can start working. Finish by thanking the employer, stating that you look forward to a response.
The next stage will hopefully be an interview with the employer – Have you read our 5 common Interview Questions blogpost?