You are tap-tap-tapping away at your desktop, whiling away another afternoon in the office, working on projects that no longer fit into the “I’m feeling incredibly fulfilled by my work” category.
You have been at the company for years, and while you are proud of how you have progressed (promotions, baby!), and appreciate the level of work you are entrusted to complete, you no longer feel alive at work. Even the water cooler conversations have reached a new level of “dull.”
You read travel blogs in-between submitting expense reports, and find yourself losing minutes just scrolling through photo feeds from people who are living and working abroad. Suddenly, a quote fills your screen:
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” — Nelson Mandela
Dang, that guy knows his stuff, huh?
It’s time to write your own story. It’s time to go out on a limb and live your best life. It’s time to transform your late night pretend flight bookings into the real thing. It’s time to teach abroad.
Get Your CV / Resume in Good Shape!
Like any good job seeker, you know you need to blow a little dust off the ol’ CV (or resume) and make sure it rightfully reflects all of your most recent professional accomplishments. Future TEFL employers do look at this document and do take it very seriously. So, how can you set yourself up for getting as many job offers as possible? Read on to learn five things NOT to put on your resume before teaching abroad.
Totally Irrelevant Info
We are glad you tended bar for years at your corner pub and that you were a grocery stock boy in high school. It is great that you swept up popcorn at the movie theater or that you were an executive assistant for the C suite of some big-name firm. But how does that translate into your ability to successfully mold the young, soon to be English speaking minds of children around the world?
Include your professional accomplishments, but always frame them as transferable skills to the classroom. There is more connection than you might imagine at first glance, but it is up to you to convince the hiring manager of these soft skills. Maybe mixing late night cocktails taught you how to handle nonstop madness (sound like a kindergarten classroom?). Perhaps refilling the produce aisle taught you the value of organization and preparedness (two key skills for lesson planning).
Get our gist? You essentially have one page to make your skills set shine — don’t leave it up to interpretation when you can instead convince me, person who is reviewing resumes, that you already have a head start on the skills necessary to succeed in the TEFL classroom.
Or, as my colleague once put in an email — “type-o’s.” #doh
We cannot stress enough the importance of re-reading your teach abroad CV/resume to check for any misspellings, incorrect comma placings, missing quotes, or other grammatical errors. You are trying to convince us you can teach English. If your English is sub-par, you are failing to instill confidence in your capabilities to do so.
One idea is to change the color of the font of your CV/resume and give it another look through. It tricks your brain into thinking it is looking at an entirely new document and thus doesn’t fill in the blanks quite as frequently as when it is simply in black and white. Just be sure to change it back to black before you click “save and submit.” 😉
Another idea is to have a friend review it, especially that anal retentive, type A friend that you normally avoid (for your sanity’s sake, of course). Have this individual comb through your CV/resume, line by line, and give feedback or make suggestions based on the grammar or spelling. Bonus points if this friend is also an editor or a person who loves to point out others’ mistakes.
A final idea is to review your CV/resume a day later. In the moment, you might accidentally get lazy when skimming it for errors. A fresh mind in 24 hours might be more likely to catch those small details; its relative sharpness cannot be understated. Pro tip: be sure to pay extra close attention to the words on the far right of the screen, as our brain is more likely to skip them.
Gaps In Time
Have some funemployment stints in your recent job history? Struggled to find work after uni/college (and moved back home with mom and dad?) Took some time off intentionally for “me?”
This can be a red flag on your teach abroad CV/resume, but not necessarily a deal breaker. If you have some serious gaps in time between projects, employment, schooling, etc., make sure you address this in your cover letter. And really sell it.
Ideally, you would have devoted this time to learning new skills, assessing your life path, or identifying new directions for your career to take. Gaps in time are not inherently bad; however, you will do yourself a favor if you remind us why.
If you were traveling, focus on the soft skills you picked up, like empathy and communication skills. If you were sitting around at home, convince us that you have done some hard thinking, and know that teaching abroad is the next logical step towards your now-clear-to-you career path.
Too Many Jobs!
Sorry, but we are not exactly impressed that you have had a baker’s dozen of jobs since completing your A levels. Rather than focusing on quantity over quality, we suggest you refer back to tip #1 from this piece. Focus on relevant work rather than work itself. When we look at your teach abroad resume/CV, we want to know that our kiddos will benefit from your leadership and know-how of the English language.
Even if you only include one actual job because you wanted to focus on your volunteer position at the local children’s library or your independent research on linguistics, we are more likely to be convinced of your capabilities in this instance than if you fill your CV/resume with every single job. In short, just list the relevant ones, and you will be golden.
Messy, Inconsistent Format
Nothing grates our chains more than an ugly teach abroad resume/CV. We get it — there’s not much you can do with one page and the color black. While we don’t necessarily need a colorful graphic design masterpiece, there are some general guidelines you SHOULD be following as you build your CV/resume, such as…
- Keep dates consistent.Don’t swap between 01/2016-06/2016 and January 2016-June 2016.
- Bullet points are your friend.See how pretty these ones that I’m using are? Yeah, the same works for your resume/CV, too.
- Pay attention to verbs and perspective. Diverse action verbs are way more sexy than “I did… x, y, z” or “I completed… a, b, c.” If you’re using first-person POV, use it throughout the entire body of the document. Third-person is okay too, as long as you’re consistent.
- Don’t use frilly fonts. Sorry Papyrus and Comic Sans, you’re no good here. Stick to a sans-serif like Arial or a light-serif like Times New Roman.
- Consider the length of each section. If you use two bullet points to describe your work at one employer, try to use two bullet points for every employment description.
- Always end with references. A simple: “References available upon request” should do the trick.
PRO TIP: Make Sure Your Teach Abroad Resume Has a TEFL
You have already learned from your incessant googling that getting a TEFL before teaching abroad is a really good step. It sets you up for success as an educator, ensuring your students will learn more effectively from your lessons — after all, speaking the English language natively doesn’t equate to knowing how to teach it.
Case in point: can you explain why the adjective order of “Brown Acoustic Guitar” feels better than “Acoustic Brown Guitar?”
There you have it! Now your teach abroad resume/CV will shine
If you follow the above advice and omit those pesky errors, you are much more likely to find paid English teaching jobs abroad. They might seem small now, but they can have big ramifications. So pay attention, show us what you got, and let your personality and accomplishments shimmer.
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