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The ESL Job Hunt: Writing an International Resume

The ESL Job Hunt: Writing an International Resume
Admin - Feb 03 2016

So you got your ESL certification and you are ready to go.  Now comes the hard part – getting a job.  But fear not!  ESL Jobs Feed Overseas is here to provide you with resources and guidance to land you that dream job overseas

As with any job, here or abroad, your resume is usually your first point of contact with potential employers, so you need to make it count.  Since you will be applying for jobs overseas, you will want to make an international resume, which is slightly different than what we use in the US.  Check out this portion of our sample international resume.

Download Some Helpful Resume Templates Here

As you can see, the international resume includes your photo and personal information at the top.  While here in the US, it is against the law for employers to discriminate based on age, gender, race, marital status, etc., that is not the case in the international market.  Potential employers will want to know this information, see what you look like, and get a feel for who you are as a person.  Follow these guidelines for listing your personal information:

  • Include Gender Information (Male, Female, or Other)
  • Include Date of Birth, use the international format (12 July 1903)
  • Include Nationality (the place your passport is issued)
  • List Work Permits held (Chinese Z Visa for six months)
  • List Country of Citizenship (the place you have the legal right to vote)

Below are some additional things to consider when getting ready to hit the pavement with your resume:

Make it look professional.  By “it,” we mean your photo.  Employers will want a photograph at the top of your resume, and while you do not need a professionally taken headshot, it should be a professional looking headshot.  Do not include the Facebook profile pic of you drinking with friends.  Do not include the Instagram photo of your last trip to the beach.  Do include a shoulders-up headshot of you wearing work-appropriate attire against a neutral background.

Include your Teacher Certification Course under “Education.”  This is important and what many of the best schools will be looking for.  Include the number of training hours completed, as well as the number of practicum hours.

Keep it simple.  When writing your resume, remember that you are applying to teach English in a non-English speaking country.  The person receiving your resume will probably speak a good amount of English, but you should still keep the language simple.  Avoid using flowery adjectives, complicated sentence structures, or unnecessary large words.  Put your thesaurus away and just be clear and concise.

Use universal position titles.  Again, though the person reading your resume might speak English, a title like “Floor Manager” will not register with them as much as a more common term like “Store Manager.”

Make your experience relevant.  Many new ESL teachers have little to no formal teaching experience.  This does not mean that you should leave your resume sparse.  Most ESL certification courses require some sort of practicum, so start with that.  Highlight any leadership roles that you took in other positions that might not be directly related to teaching.  Include any relevant volunteer experience.  Are you applying to work with children?  Include any experience that you have with them, from your days moonlighting as a nanny during college to those summers you spent as a camp counselor.

Be specific.  When describing your professional experience, be specific.  Do not just say “Tutored ESL students” for your practicum.  Elaborate and show your potential new boss that you understand everything that goes into teaching and are capable of executing.  Example:

Present your extracurricular interests. Many companies want to make sure that when you come to a country you are outgoing, independent, and can find your own way. List awards, trophies, honors, and articles about your activities, any offices, board memberships, or leadership positions held, and show your commitment to this activity.

PROOFREAD EVERYTHING.  Before you save and send your documents, read everything once, twice, three times.  Have your mom, your best friend and your instructor give it a read.  Sending out a resume with typos and grammatical errors is not going to help instill confidence in someone hiring you to teach their students English, so proofreading is a must.

Save and name your documents correctly.  There are various schools of thought on how you should save your documents (PDF vs Doc).  If the job posting you are applying to requests a certain format, you will obviously want to send it as requested.  You will also want to make sure that you name your document appropriately.  “JohnDoeResume” is your best bet – schools get a lot of emails, so it is important to be organized and make it easy for them.  Avoid naming your documents simply “Resume” and “Cover Letter.”

Now you can post your ESL teacher resume and start that teaching overseas job hunt!


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