Does your CV or résumé suffer from sick CV syndrome?
If you’re job hunting, it’s time to check your TEFL/TESOL curriculum vitae to make sure it’s working for you and not against you. At Global English TESOL we see hundreds of résumés from TESOL teachers and trainers every year and it’s surprising how even CVs from the most well-qualified and experienced teachers can still shout NO! to a prospective employer.
So does your résumé suffer from sick CV syndrome? Check for the three most common symptoms and get it remedied straight away.
Here are three common cv/résumé problems:
1. wrong CV emphasis: equal weight given to non-teaching jobs/experience
2. no personal profile or human appeal
3. poor layout
Let’s look at these one by one.
1. Wrong CV emphasis
When writing a CV you may be tempted to list your jobs in chronological order, explaining your current job first. Don’t, unless your current employment is teaching. The first rule of CV writing is not to make your prospective employer hunt for key information. Structure your CV with a TEFL qualifications header and TEFL experience header near the top because this is the key information the employer will be scanning for.
Under the headers include lots of TEFL-rich details; what books you have used e.g. Headway, Business Result etc., as well as levels you have prepared for. State the groups you have taught - children, adults and any 1:1 work.
Include key strengths you possess, especially if you can back this up with comments from students, boss or a trainer. Admittedly this part is harder if you have no experience but you can still write about your course in some detail to show an employer the areas you have covered and excel in. So dig deep.
If you have non-TESOL experience, that’s good too. We suggest giving less detail about irrelevant jobs but highlight any training, materials development or presentations you have done in these roles. Your CV should shout TEFL/TESOL teacher as much as possible and not former insurance salesman who’s just done a TESOL course.
2. No personal profile or human appeal
Always include a personal profile right at the top of your CV which should be an overview of you in two-four full sentences, so the employer gets a sense of the person behind the bullet points. Sound enthusiastic and upbeat.
"I’m an enthusiastic qualified EFL teacher keen to..."
Always attach or include a smiley passport-sized photo (or jpeg if applying electronically).
3. Poor layout
Is your TEFL CV nicely spaced out? Is the font too small? Are there clear headers under which the relevant information fits logically? Employers may sift through 20 or 30 CVs at a time so if you make sure yours is user-friendly your potential employer will already be warm to you. Don’t frustrate them by running onto more than two pages. If you have to use three or squash it into two, it’s time to trim! Remember, two pages is optimum.
The last word
If you have spent time and money on a TESOL course, don’t throw it away with a poor representation of your efforts. Take some time to make your CV stand out. An employer is asking themselves ‘why this person?’ when they look at your CV. Make it clear and easy for them to find the information that says you fit the bill.
All Global English TESOL courses contain information on writing a good TEFL CV and having one is an important first step on your TEFL journey.
The next step is succeeding at TESOL interview. With just a bit of preparation and thought, you can make the CV and interview process work in your favour. And stand a much better chance of hearing the words You’re hired! Get your suitcase packed and good luck!
In the meantime:
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"For the past two years I have worked here in Tuscany teaching all levels. I have already recommended your courses to one of my prospective teachers..."
— Alison Salmon, English World, Italy