If you're applying for a TEFL job, you're going to have to write a CV. It's a good idea to write a cover letter as well. This is one of the easiest things to get wrong in the application process. In case you hadn't guessed it already, job recruiters receive dozens of applications daily, and your CV is going to be a part of the filtering process.
If you don't make it easy to demonstrate your worth, you could be dropped at this first stage and never hear anything more.
Luckily, with a bit of care and attention to the way you set up your application, you'll be able to make sure that you hear back. This article is going to show you exactly how to write a TEFL CV, and it even includes some insider information on exactly what recruiters want to see.
How To Write A TEFL CV To Get Noticed
Getting noticed doesn't actually mean tailoring your CV so that you are "standing out from the crowd". That's a common misconception about the initial application process.
To stand out from the crowd, recruiters would have to first READ your CV. They don't read CV's when they first receive them. They SCAN.
Can you imagine getting dozens of CV's in your inbox every day? How are you going to sort through them all? Do you want to waste time reading them all, if half of them don't even meet the application requirements? Instead, a recruiter will quickly skim-read your CV to see if you are worth following up. They do that by checking you meet the basic requirements.
That's the first thing you have to prioritize. Make sure you meet the application criteria, and make sure it's clear on your CV. If the recruiter is scanning the page, they can easily miss the fact that you are suitable.
Application requirements differ from job to job, but the general things you want to include are your nationality, your Degree, previous TEFL experience and your TEFL qualification. There's no strict rule on exactly how you present these facts, but doing so in bullet-points or an introductory paragraph would make everyone's life easier.
Once you've made it through the first filter and the recruiter has added your CV to the "to follow-up" pile, then they'll go back and look in more detail. This is where you can worry about the other content of the page.
We've already touched upon the basic details to include, but what else is needed?
For a start, you'll need to specify exactly what type of TEFL qualification you have. Is it a CELTA? A Trinity Cert TESOL? A standard TEFL? Was it online or offline or a combination of both? How many hours was it in total and of these hours, how many were observed teaching practice hours – where you were stood up in front of a group of EFL students and your teaching was observed by the teacher trainer? Do you have additional modules completed like a TEYL? We always work with the best schools who offer great positions, so if you've got a CELTA or equivalent, you really want to make it clear.
With your Degree (most jobs will require you to have one), you only need the title and level, not individual modules taken. As for A-Levels and GCSE's, it's not really necessary to include them, certainly the average recruiter won't look at them in much detail. Obviously if you have a high score in English it could be worth including though.
For the details you should include in previous work experience and other useful experience, read down this article, as they have their own section.
Make your CV well structured and concise. The worst thing you can do is to try and "flesh it out" by adding unnecessary content and giving it a bad structure. Make it easy for the recruiter to see your skills by using headings and subheadings. Organize things with bullet-points and put them in the correct order.
A good way to order your CV is using the following:
- Introduction/Personal Information
- Education (Including TEFL)
- Work History (Most recent first)
- Other Qualifications And Skills
- Relevant Experiences (Volunteered to work with children in the past?)
- Hobbies And Interests
Work History And Other Experience
With this, you don't need to include your paper-round or in most cases a part-time job you did as a teenager (unless you really have no other experience). Start with your most recent work experience, make sure to include dates, and work back. When you are listing the job, include your responsibilities and skills required to perform the job. It's absolutely recommended to keep things jargon free. Bullet-points and short sentences are recommended. Use past-tense for all jobs except your current one (if applicable), and write in the 3rd person.
In fact write the whole CV in the 3rd person (more on this later).
Start with paid jobs, and if you feel it is necessary, include any other work experience you might have. Use a separate heading to make it clear.
Useful work experience or anything you've done that is related to teaching or working with children is great and you definitely want to include it. This could be anything from volunteering to coach children Football to babysitting.
As a side note, if you feel your CV is a bit lacking in useful experience, a great thing to do is find a school or other children's club to volunteer at. Explain that you want to teach abroad in future and want some work experience. Even something as short as a couple of weeks is great.
There are many useful example CV's out there that show a great way to structure and present work history, check one out here.
A final note on work history - if a contract was not completed, or you held a job for a short period, make sure you explain why. "Worked in XYZ School from July 1st to July 30th 2014" doesn't look ideal to a recruiter, but if it was a one month summer camp, you'll be fine. Make sure you state it!
Hobbies And Interests
These aren't going to be the deal breakers that get you the job, but it's fine to include one or two items, especially if they are pertinent to the job. Many people say this is an opportunity to show that you are different and "stand out from the crowd", but CV's that try to embellish or list too many items often look like they are compensating for a general weakness or lack of suitability.
You should be confident enough in yourself and your appropriateness for the job that your hobbies and interests are just used to show you are a normal person.
One thing you CAN do is tailor your hobbies to the job you are applying for. If you love cycling and are applying for a job in the mountains of Taiwan, the recruiter will definitely view that as a good thing.
As mentioned above, keep the article concise. You want to write in the third person and use bullet-points where necessary. Make your sentences punchy and direct by using things like "Main responsibilities were" or "Achieved the following".
Also, you have no need to use cliches. Nobody wants to read a cheesy CV that uses the same words as everybody else.
Other Useful Tips
As well as the content of the CV, you need to consider some of the following things:
- Check your spelling, check your grammar, then check them both again. This is true for all applications, but even more so for an English teaching position.
- Tailor your CV to the job. If it's a job teaching children, demonstrate that you are energetic via your hobbies and interests. Show experience working with children. If you're going to be teaching adults, then show responsibility and maturity. It's not too tricky to tweak your CV here and there for each job you are applying for. It will also help you write your cover letter.
- Always include a cover letter.
- Include your CV, Cover Letter, Qualification Copies and Photo (where required) in separate attachments within the email. Read here for more specifics about the application process.
The Cover Letter
A cover letter should be written in a similar fashion to your CV - concise and to the point. That said, you want to make it more flowing prose and written in the first person. Explain why you are suitable for the job (demonstrates you've read the requirements and meet them), why you want to work in the country in question (shows you've done your research), and why you feel this school/recruitment agency will be a good fit for you (further research).
You don't want to show any insecurities or lack of confidence in your suitability. You also don't need to try and over-sell yourself. If you meet the requirements and are a decent person, the recruiter will be interested to know more. All you have to do is make sure you present that suitability clearly to them.
Putting a little extra work into your CV will pay off. It can be the single thing that makes the difference between getting hired and hearing nothing back. Many people make the mistake of making their CV some sort of mystical code that needs deciphering. It's not! Just make it clear and easy to read.
Follow the pointers above, and you'll be that much better off and might even find yourself at the top of the pile.
Got any more questions? Let us know below.