How to write CVs for entry-level TEFL jobs in Thailand
Successful job searches begin with effective CVs and writing CVs for entry-level TEFL jobs in Thailand is no different. Yet what a successful CV looks like, and how it’s organized can be significantly different for new teachers.
Experienced teachers can use a chronological CV format, listing each of their last jobs and what they did there. This isn’t an option for teachers with little or no experience, and employers don’t want to read about an applicant’s experience in unrelated professions.
That’s where the functional CV comes into play.
What is a functional CV?
Like a chronological CV, a functional CV provides personal information, summarizes qualifications, and includes references. The difference being that a functional CV organizes information by skill sets rather than job titles. This allows those with limited experience to highlight transferable skills they gained from seemingly unrelated work. For example, someone with previous experience in sales management might highlight transferable skills such as communication, customer service, and leadership, rather than titles like Sales Manager or Sales Associate.
What are the benefits of a functional CV?
- Allows the applicant to highlight relevant skills gained in seemingly irrelevant positions
- Demonstrates precisely the skills that the employer wants to see
- Utilizes unpaid volunteer, training, and internship experiences
- Eliminates work history that is irrelevant to the position applied for
How to organize the information?
Much like a traditional CV, start with basic personal information before including an objective (optional), then finish with sections for honors and/or interests (both are optional), before ending with references.
This leaves the middle section requiring the most attention.
Rather than listing employment history and moving backwards through your past positions, list relevant skill sets gained through jobs, internships, volunteering and even training. Focusing on skill sets rather than jobs makes the functional CV far more useful for those with limited experience.
Let’s take a closer look at each section to get a better idea of how this works, and how it’s particularly helpful for TEFL jobs in Thailand.
1 – Personal Information
Applicants need to include their full name, nationality, date of birth, and an appropriate picture. If this seems foreign to you, just remember that you are the foreigner now and you must adapt to local standards. Thais include this information in their CVs and so should we.
Contact information should include an email address and phone number. If you’re already in Thailand and don’t have a domestic number, get one. If you’re not in Thailand, list your Skype ID, or consider downloading Line, it’s like WeChat or Whatsapp and nearly every Thai uses it.
2 – Objective
For some an objective is redundant—we know the objective is to get the job. However, a carefully worded objective can set a positive tone and highlight strengths. Make this statement as precise as possible, focusing on what you can do for them—as opposed to merely satisfying your own goals. Thai employers’ concerns include reliability, experience, and classroom management.
- Seeking a full-time position teaching primary levels for a minimum of one year, where my experience with young learners can benefit students and perhaps staff.
- Seeking a lecturer position where my diverse business background can be used to enrich students’ understanding of the global market
- Seeking employment where I can gain initial experience teaching after my Cert. TESOL course.
- Hoping to get a job in Thailand so I can learn more about Thai culture and travel through SE Asia while earning a salary.
NOTE: Be specific - knowing exactly what type of employment you’ll be doing is always a good idea.
Mainstream Education: Primary or secondary levels, public or private institution, almost always full-time, this is the quintessential TEFL job in Thailand. Public schools typically have larger classes that study EFL 2-3 times a week. Private schools often offer an English program (EP), with smaller classes learning EFL, science, math, or even PE, IT or art in English.
Language Centers: These are businesses that specialize in language learning. Positions may be part-time of full-time and offer a variety of language learning focus: general conversation, test-prep, business, hospitality, or you may be hired to teach at a mainstream school. In this case, the language center is acting as an employment agency for local schools. Most popular in urban areas, language centers often offer part-time or full-time work.
Universities: Typically hired as an English-language lecturer within a specific faculty of study, positions are usually full-time, but offer lower pay because of reduced classroom hours—leaving plenty of time to find a side hustle that makes up for the lower base salary.
Online: Popularity here has grown exponentially since COVID-19. Still, the vast majority of the market is Chinese young learners, whom you teach individually for short blocks of time. Most companies aren’t based in Thailand, so you won’t be working for a Thai employer, meaning you won’t be issued a work permit and will need to sort out your visa by other means.
Freelance: A popular form of supplemental income in the past, fewer teachers do face-to-face freelance work because online work offers much higher hourly pay. This type of work most likely requires additional income as it’s difficult to accumulate enough hours to cover the cost of living.
Private Corporations: Exceedingly rare and requires past experience, but some large corporations hire EFL teachers directly. Most common in int’l hotels, factories, and some corporate offices, where you’ll teach larger groups of employers, small groups of management, and perhaps work with individuals.
3 – Qualifications
In reverse chronological order, list your relevant qualifications. Each entry should start with the resulting qualification, then the institution that issued it, followed by location (city, country), and when it was completed (mo/yr). Various examples include…
TEFL Certificate; TEFL Campus/TEFL International; Phuket, Thailand; August 2015.
B.A. – Economics; University of Toronto; Toronto, Canada; June 2000.
M.Ed. – Linguistics; Assumption University; Bangkok, Thailand; December 2010.
PGCEi – Geography; University of Nottingham; Nottingham, England; May 2011.
Do not include secondary education, A-levels, associate degrees, or irrelevant diplomas. Also, refrain from listing any courses you didn’t complete—including university degrees. If you are currently enrolled in a course and you intend to complete it, list the expected end date in parenthesis (mo/yr).
NOTE: In Thailand, the difference between legal and actual requirements can be rather vast.
Legality: Teaching positions under the jurisdiction of Thailand’s Ministry of Education require a bachelor’s degree in education. Provisional teaching permits are issued for up to 4 years to those with a degree in any field of study.
Reality: Employers routinely turn a blind eye to the degree requirement, but they cannot sponsor visas or work permits and are therefore illegal. Some employers get creative with how they register their company or how they classify employment, thereby skirting the law.
Legality: No legal requirement
Reality: A CELTA or TEFL/TESOL certificate is required or preferred by most employers. Higher-paying jobs often require onsite training that included observed teaching practice in the absence of classroom experience.
Legality: No legal requirement
Reality: Experience is sometimes preferred but not common. Experience living/working in Thailand can all be beneficial.
Legality: Criminal background check from a recent place of residence required for visa application
Reality: No difference.
Legality: Must have native English speaker (NES) status (hold a passport from the UK, the US, Ireland, Canada, Australia or New Zealand), or fluent in English
Reality: While NES status is often required, those who can show proof of English language fluency (through a valid score on an IELTS, TOEIC, or TOEFL exam) are often hired.
Legality: 20 – 60
Reality: Employers often prefer younger teachers for young learners but being 50+ isn’t necessarily an automatic barrier to other employment.
Legality: No legal barrier
Reality: Caucasians from NES and European nations are highly preferred. Teachers of African and/or Asian descent will face discrimination from many employers. However, the situation has improved over the past decade.
4 – Professional Skills
This is the bulk of any functional CV, where you list 3-5 legitimate skill sets related to the job. They can be directly related; teaching, training, or coaching; or they can be loosely related; communication, creative, or leadership. They can also directly relate to specific roles you’re applying to; childcare (teaching young learners), customer service (teaching business English), hospitality (teaching at hotels).
Be sure to reference specific experience and skills gained rather than making generic statements. Anyone can talk about their strong work ethic, but a statement like, “Promoted four times in two years” has much more impact.
Don’t sell yourself short but include anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about in an interview. Work should be meaningful and important without embellishing. All content should relate to a work, volunteer, or an academic setting. Examples of relevant skill sets might include…
- Was responsible for small groups of 3-year-olds at Mrs. Doubtfire’s Daycare
- Supervised young musicians on a 24-hour basis at Band Camp
- Worked as a lifeguard at Ridgemont High Community Pool
- Chaired Faber College’s Student Services Budgetary Committee
- Planned a fundraiser event for Pawnee City Council, raising $25,000 in donations
- Lead a small team of analysts charged with setting annual department budget at Wernham Hogg.
- Authored over 100 weekly articles as a columnist for The Daily Bugle
- Proofread and edited digital communication as Social Media Specialist for Initech
- Delivered multiple hour-long seminars to teens regarding health and wellness
If your only closely related experience was during an in-class TEFL certification course that included real teaching practice, simply incorporate what you did during the course under a “Teaching” skills header:
- Taught six EFL lessons (Starter to Intermediate) to small and medium-sized classes
- Identified teaching points and created EFL lesson plans with minimal assistance
- Created classroom materials such as visual aids, worksheets, handouts and props
- Maximized student participation, using a variety of classroom management techniques
NOTE: Avoid industry/institutional jargon. Regardless of how obvious you think they may be, acronyms and terminology specific to a profession may confuse Thai employers and/or foreign coordinators.
5 – Employment History
Now that the employer has a good idea of the skills you bring to the position, we need only summarize jobs, internships, and volunteer positions relevant to the skills you highlighted in your CV. Each entry should mention the position/title, organization, location, start and end dates. For example:
Youth Soccer Coach; Lady Bugs FC; Chicago, USA; May ’14 - Sept. ‘19.
Software Writer; Bandersnatch Co. Ltd.; London, England; April ’09 - June ‘17.
Regional Sales Manager; Cogswell Cogs; Regina, Saskatchewan, CAN; March ’99 - August ‘02.
6 – References
Include references even if they aren’t asked for. All references should be professional or academic and ask each person for permission. Include their name, title, organization, and email.
Jim Jefferies; Comedian/Actor; self-employed; Sydney, Australia; email address
Angela Merkel; Chancellor of Germany; Berlin, GER; email address
Cliff Claven; United States Postal Service; Boston, MA, USA; email address
- Always follow up – Employers in Thailand are busy people. They may post a job ad and get 100 applicants, or you may have proactively applied to a school and the main contact hasn’t had time to reply. If you have specific contact information, use it and call or email within 48 hours of submitting your CV. If you don’t have specific contact details, be resourceful and find them.
- Forget the cover letter – Again, employers are busy and almost never read these. Unless specifically asked for, don’t waste your time. Simply drop off a CV in person, or use an email to state why you’ve contacted them. In the rare case you’re asked for one, keep it brief
- 2-page maximum – This is common and no different in Thailand. Even teachers with a decade of experience should be able to keep their CV to a page or two. If you don’t have experience directly related to the position, then try for one page.
- Ensure accuracy – This goes without saying for any profession, but it’s particularly true here. Carefully scour your CV for errors, then have a friend do the same. Before sending it off, go ahead and give it a final check. This is of paramount concern for all non-NES applicants.
- Use a professional picture – Appearance goes a long way in Thai culture and we all know about first impressions. Go the extra mile and get a passport style photo of you in professional attire. Anything else and you risk getting rejected or passed up on this alone.
This article was provided by Eric Haeg, Course Director of TEFL Campus.
Eric has been helping teachers find TEFL jobs since 2007.