How To Write a TEFL Resume That Gets You Hired

Creating a killer ESL resume is the first step in getting recruiters, or the school hiring committee, excited about your passion, experience and teaching goals.

You’ve finally acquired your TEFL certificate, and you’re ready to put your newfound skills to great use by heading abroad. But wait, where do you even begin? If you’re new to the TEFL world, finding the ideal position in the vast expanse of the ESL job market can be daunting. Sampling the local cuisine of Thailand or spending your days teaching students in Spain sounds like a dream, but it’s a dream that many other teachers have too. You’ll need to showcase your skills and passion for teaching in a way that moves your resume straight to the “interview” pile.

Creating a killer ESL resume is the first step in getting recruiters, or the school hiring committee, excited about your passion, experience and teaching goals.

If you’re eager to learn more about how you can create an incredible resume that gets you hired, here are a few of our top tips and tricks:

Establish your goals

Before you think about your teaching objective, you need to get to the root of your “why”. Why do you want to find teaching jobs abroad? Take the time to sit down and write out your goals and motivation. Think about the impact you’d like to have on your students, and how you’d like to be impacted by this teaching experience. Nailing down your goals and motivation is a great way to find and apply to ESL positions that resonate with you. Working for a school that doesn’t align with your goals could leave you feeling unhappy and drained, and this won't bode well for you or your students.

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Create a teaching objective

Now that you have a better understanding of your goals, it’s time to write a summary of your teaching objective. Keep it short and sweet, as this portion should showcase your skills and talents and how they align with the position. Provide a clear and concise explanation of your goals and motivations and how you're the perfect candidate for the job. Try and avoid statements along the lines of: “I love travelling, and this position will help me do that.” Instead, try to use strong and clear language to communicate how your professional goals and necessary skills will help you excel as an ESL teacher if they choose you.

Define your experience

While your powerful objective may have convinced the recruiter to continue reading, it’s time to reinforce your teaching abilities by offering some evidence. Many applicants who decide to teach abroad have no formal experience as a teacher - and that’s okay. Instead of focusing on what you don't have, make a list of all the relevant experiences you do have. Perhaps you’ve worked at a summer camp, babysat for a few years, or tutored a group of kids. For each position you've listed, try and be as detailed as possible. How many kids did you babysit? What were your responsibilities? When you tutored, what was the level of the students, and what did you achieve with them? This demonstrates your experience working with kids, and that you’re not entirely out of your element.

Education and Certifications

Depending on your desired destination, many schools require a bachelor’s degree, a TEFL certificate, or both. If you do have both, you’re already one step ahead. For your TEFL qualification, you’ll want to highlight how many training hours you’ve completed. Be sure to specify how many hours you’ve spent completing your modules online, and how many in-class training hours you have (if any). This can be important, as specific countries require teachers to have a minimum of 30-hours in-classroom practice included in their TEFL certification. The purpose of your TEFL resume is to showcase your teaching skills, so you’ll want to add your TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA qualifications as near to the top as possible. .

Highlight your skills

If you’re starting your ESL journey, you probably don’t have a ton of teaching experience behind you. But that doesn’t have to deter you from applying to your dream ESL job. Instead, focus on what’s called transferable skills. These are abilities or experiences that could be used in a variety of roles, so try and use this to highlight the skills that have already prepared you to be the best teacher you can be.

Your TEFL resume is the perfect opportunity to show off the skills you’ve learned over the years. Perhaps you've spent time working in customer service, which makes you an effective communicator and problem-solver. It also shows that you are capable of handling difficult customers, or in this case, kids - emphasizing your patience and understanding nature. Think about the passions and skills you’ve gained throughout your life. How can you transfer these skills to help you stand out and get hired? Here are just a few more examples of transferable skills:

  • Creativity - make classes fun and interactive
  • Time management - crucial for lesson planning and class management
  • Organization - No one likes a disorganized teacher

These are only a few, but there are plenty of more skills that you could utilize in a classroom setting!

Professional Photo

While adding an image to your resume may seem unconventional, it’s a must when compiling your TEFL resume. Because you’re applying to a teaching position abroad and recruiters won’t get a chance to meet you in person, it’s a fantastic way to humanize you and resume. Unfortunately, any old photo from Facebook won’t do. Here are a few tips you can use when choosing your TEFL resume photo:

  • Embody the perfect teacher. One of the main requirements for being a TEFL teacher is enthusiasm and passion. Try and embody this through your body language and smile.
  • Don’t use your passport photo. Passport photos don’t do a great job of displaying your friendly and approachable demeanor.
  • Good quality image. Perhaps this is obvious, but make sure that your image is good quality and has some great lighting. Blurry and dark images won’t cut it.
  • Look professional. If you can, try and show your professional side by dressing appropriately. Grab a blazer or shirt for the image.

Your resume cover letter

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”, and your cover letter is precisely that - the first impression. This is the perfect opportunity for the recruiter to get to know you and the type of teacher you are, so make sure you let your personality shine through. It's also the perfect space to flesh out your resume and fill in the gaps when it comes to inexperience or lack of qualifications. Use this opportunity to showcase what makes you an incredible teacher and how this position will impact both you and your future employer in the best way possible.

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Additional tips to remember

Here are a few tips to remember that will help round-off your incredible TEFL resume:

Don’t include every job you’ve had

It’s great that you worked as a delivery guy for your local pizza place when you were 16-years-old, but how is it relevant to the position? If you worked as a camp counsellor - that’s great, it shows that you have experience with kids. Try to avoid listing your entire work history. Instead, make sure that you’ve only included work experience that pertains to the position.

International experience is always great!

Having international experience isn’t a necessity, but it’s great to add to your resume. It shows potential employers that you have experience being in a different culture and demonstrates that you won’t have too much of a hard time adapting. So, whether you’ve spent time living abroad as an au pair or studied abroad, make sure you include it!

Don’t forget to spell-check!

This is perhaps one of the most important things you can do once you’ve completed your TEFL resume! A resume filled with endless spelling errors can leave a bad taste in your potential employer’s mouth, so make sure you double-check everything before clicking submit. It’s also a fantastic idea to get a fresh set of eyes to look over the finished product, so make sure you send it to a friend or family member to edit. They may be able to spot a few errors that could have slipped past you.

We hope that these tips and tricks have helped get your TEFL resume in tip-top shape so you can go on and snag the ESL job of your dreams! Happy job hunting!