In the world of teaching English as a Foreign Language, very rarely do you interview in-person. You send off your English teacher cover letter and CV, expecting them to do the talking for you without even meeting your potential employer. Yet the importance of making a good first impression to your employer or school is still enormous. Because of this, it is imperative that your TEFL CV and TEFL cover letter actually justify your skills.
You will need to demonstrate your professional prowess by designing the best TEFL CV and TEFL cover letter possible. When creating a TEFL CV or cover letter, there are many things you can do to make yourself stand out among the crowd. Additionally, there are many pitfalls that you need to avoid.
TEFL Cover Letter vs TEFL CV
However, before we proceed to look at the intricacies of composing either of them, we need to distinguish them first. People often get mixed up with the terms. Resume? Cover Letter? CV? What’s the difference? What even is a Curriculum Vitae? Thankfully for you, we’re going to learn how to make the best version of both.
CV & Resume
Curriculum Vitae (CV) simply means “course of life”. A CV is used interchangeably with the word resume, which is French for “summary”. This is where you would list your experience, qualifications, skills, academic background, references and so on.
It is essentially a pragmatic, no-nonsense summary of your skills and experience. Because of this, it’s important not to waffle and include anything irrelevant which may bore potential employers.
A cover letter, on the other hand, is where you would write information about yourself, your experience, your career goals, and why you would like to be considered for the role you’re applying for.
Typically, a cover letter is more personal than a CV. With an English teacher cover letter, you can personalize it and tailor it to the specific job that you are hoping to secure.
Additionally, most vacancies will require a CV but not necessarily a cover letter. Because of this, a cover letter compliments the CV, but is not often done because it isn’t essential. By writing an English teacher cover letter regardless of whether it is required or not, you will demonstrate to potential employers not only that you are proactive but you’ll also add a personal touch to your application.
The Importance of a Great TEFL CV & TEFL Cover Letter
The importance of a great TEFL cover letter and TEFL CV should not be understated. This is especially the case since you’re highly unlikely to be interviewing in-person. Who’s going to get a 10 hour flight just to interview and potentially be turned down? Not me (hopefully not you, either).
While English is in high demand, English teachers are also rife in the industry. Companies and schools will receive many applicants for their vacancies. Because of this, you need to make sure that your TEFL CV and TEFL cover letter distinguishes you from the crowd.
Furthermore, just because your application may not require a cover letter, you should prepare one anyway. Writing a TEFL cover letter expressing your interest in teaching abroad may seem like a small step to secure a job. However, many fail to submit one to their potential employers. Not only does this look lazy, they fail to include any sense of personality in their application. Don’t be lazy and be sure to put in the extra effort in order to impress potential employers!
Write the Perfect TEFL Cover Letter & TEFL CV
When it comes to writing the perfect English teacher cover letter and CV, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. You should remember that it is likely that your employer’s first language is not going to be English. While they will certainly be fluent, they may not understand colloquialisms or unnecessarily flowery terms. Remember to be concise, and to use simple language (that doesn’t mean “write like a five year old”).
While this may sound too obvious, be sure that you’ve spelled each word correctly. You’d be surprised at how many people have incorrect spellings in their applications. Some people may get away with it, but not if you’re planning to be an English teacher. These small documents are supposed to exemplify your skills and abilities to teach English. Who’s going to take you seriously if you can’t even spell things correctly on your heavily revised document?
Be sure to include a second pair of eyes to proofread your English teacher cover letter and CV. Sometimes, we can become so immersed in what we’re working on that we fail to notice the obvious mistakes. Or, give yourself some space away from your documents before revising them. Alternatively, you can change the color and font of your document so that when you reread it, your brain sees new things as it appears to be entirely new.
If you want a better idea of how your TEFL CV should look, we’ve covered things such as the templates in this article.
Things to Include in Your TEFL CV & TEFL Cover Letter
Firstly, the CV and cover letter should be specially tailored towards TEFL jobs. You shouldn’t be using one document to apply for different jobs, you should have a version for each profession that you are applying for. Would you use the same CV for a TEFL job and a business job?
Instead, you should have a distinct English teacher cover letter and CV. By shaping these towards teaching English, this will help you meet the requirements of your TEFL job even if you do not have direct experience.
Turn Experience Into Relevant Experience
When writing a TEFL cover letter or TEFL CV, it’s important that you only include things which are useful. Avoid the temptation to include irrelevant information. Your employer will likely have plenty of applications to skim through, be sure that yours is concise. In other words, connect whatever experience you have to teaching English.
If you are good at pitching, any form of experience is in a way, related to teaching. Bartending requires personability and composure. Accounting and finance requires communication skills and social skills. Being a chef requires time management and organizational skills. Each of these are qualities which will make a better teacher.
It’s also important to remember that employers won’t care about how much money you earned in your other jobs. What matters is how your experience is relevant to teaching. Although you may not have experience directly related to teaching, you’ll have demonstrated plenty of soft skills in these jobs. Some of these soft skills include but aren’t limited to;
- Cultural adaptability
- Time Management
- Problem Solving
So, if you’re trying to keep your TEFL CV and TEFL cover letter concise, be sure to include the jobs based on the relevant skills. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t include anything that isn’t directly related to teaching. Just make sure that you shape each experience so that it looks like it does!
Present Yourself Professionally
Be sure to add a formal picture of yourself and include your age and nationality. Teaching is also about presentation, and employers need to know that you actually look the part. That is, make sure to look tidy and presentable on a clear background. Don’t include selfies from a strange angle, or an “Insta-worthy” picture of you down the pub with your mates before you sank some pints. There’s a time and a place for that!
Not only will it be good for employers to see your face, it may help you save time on unlikely applications. Unfortunately, prejudice still exists, especially in developing foreign countries. Some employers may have requirements that their teachers are young and of a particular race, or even a particular look, as superficial as it is. While this is incredibly frustrating, it might save you from investing all of your efforts into an application, only for your employer to reject you due to prejudice further down the line.
Highlights Your Qualifications and TEFL Certificate
Be sure to include your education and qualifications immediately, including your TEFL certification and your Degree. Employers need to see that you are TEFL certified, and the amount of hours that you have completed. If you’re not already TEFL certified, we have plenty of options ranging from the 120 hour TEFL course to Government Regulated TEFL certification.
Additionally, whether or not your Degree is related to English or teaching, employers in particular countries need to see that you have a Degree in order to obtain a work permit. Be sure to not only include your Degree (duh) but make sure that it stands out among your TEFL CV and is mentioned early in your TEFL cover letter.
Include Anything Related to Working With Children
Another obvious tip. However, in your TEFL CV you should include any experience you have related to working with children. Whether this is in the form of babysitting, coaching, tutoring, summer camp experience, or else, your employers want to know that you are reliable enough to have worked with children in the past.
Highlight Your Bilingualism
Although you do not need to be able to speak any other language aside from English, it can be a good idea to include a different language that you can speak.
This doesn’t mean that you should include Spanish if you have a 20 day streak on Duolingo. But if you can speak another language, it can show that you have insight on what it is like learning other languages that are not your own. This can then help students overcome obstacles in the classroom.
Personalization: The Key To Your TEFL Cover Letter
Despite them having the same objective, cover letters are entirely different to resumes or CVs. While each is essentially a written pitch in order to secure a job, the cover letter is far more personal and allows you to be more descriptive. One of the most important aspects of a TEFL cover letter is personalization.
Be sure to mention something about your employer’s school, culture and country. Saying that you love the culture of Buddhism may work if you’re applying to work in Thailand, but it won’t work if you’re applying to work in Brazil. Go the extra mile and research about the company or school, discover what their values are and be sure to incorporate that into your TEFL cover letter.
The cover letter is also an opportunity for you to further delve into your soft skills. You are able to actually explain what skills you learned and employed during previous jobs. Do not include any forms of work if you are unable to relate it to the skills needed for teaching.
If writing about a job, whether it is bartending or in retail, describe how your improvisation, communication, and organizational skills are. Remember, teaching requires much more than just teaching.
Furthermore, you can employ other useful things that would otherwise be out of place on a TEFL CV. Cultural adaptability and sensitivity is an enormous skill for TEFL teachers. If you have been traveling, here is where you can show it. You shouldn’t mention that you’ve been on holiday to Ibiza on your CV. However, on a TEFL cover Letter, you can discuss how “your trip to Spanish Islands fueled your intrigue towards experiencing foreign cultures”.
Tips for Writing a TEFL CV and TEFL Cover Letter for Non-Native Speakers
Say it with me, okay? Non-native English speakers can still teach English as a Foreign Language. Now that has been settled, there are some additional tips that you need to consider when writing your TEFL CV and cover letter as a non-native English speaker.
If you’re a non-native speaker, you will be required to prove that your English is of near native fluency. You can do this in a range of ways. Firstly, if you have a certificate which demonstrates your English proficiency, such as an IELTS, TOEFL, CAE, or CPE, for example, you should include it in your application. When hiring non-native English speakers, employers will be sure to ask for proof regarding your English proficiency.
Additionally, be sure to include any experience, whether occupational or academic, that took place in an English speaking environment. Whether you studied in an English speaking country or you worked in retail, these are all valuable as long as they display your skills within the context of English.
Things NOT to Include in Your TEFL CV and TEFL Cover Letter
Now you’ve learned about the things that you should do and include when composing your TEFL CV and cover letter, you should also know about some of the things that you should not include in your application.
Try not to use or overuse the word “passion”! Use a thesaurus for once! Employers are probably sick of seeing this word on applications. Demonstrate your expansive vocabulary by using another word!
I Did, I Worked, I Did (Again)
Similarly, to demonstrate a great command of English, avoid repeating verbs such as “I did” or “I worked” over and over. If you do this, it just shows to your employer that you have a limited range of vocabulary. Instead, you can include phrases such as;
- Took responsibility
These are just examples, and there are so many more. Be sure to not repeat yourself!
Lack of Experience
Don’t mention that you do not have teaching experience. Your employer will already see that. Instead, you can turn this weakness into a strength. Your lack of experience is what intrigues you and draws you to try something new such as TEFL. In your cover letter, you can explain exactly what about the desired country or position intrigues you most and why you want to take the opportunity.
As previously discussed, while you do not have direct teaching experience, you spent your time honing skills in other professions which are applicable to teaching. If everyone always required experience to do something, no one would be doing anything!
Gaps in Time
If there is an unmistakable gap in time on your TEFL CV, be sure to address it in your cover letter. Just because you may have a significant gap of experience at one period of time, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s important that you address this in your TEFL cover letter, and explain why it benefitted you.
Maybe you gained some new skills. During this time, maybe you traveled and gained a new perspective and appreciation for foreign cultures. Maybe you had a career break? Who cares? Just as long as you make sure to articulate how this time benefitted you and will ultimately benefit your potential employer.
Let Your Documents Do the Talking
While you may not have an interview, there is still a strict hiring process. Some of you may be jumping at the idea of missing out on the interview. Others may thrive in the interview. Ultimately, you’re unable to truly demonstrate and infect your employer with your personality. Because of this, you need to have something which can attest to your abilities.
If you may be facing the prospect of an interview, however, you can take part in a one-to-one TEFL job coaching to optimize your interview skills.
An effective TEFL CV and TEFL cover letter is paramount towards securing your position teaching English abroad. While it may take some revisions, and the templates of the CV can be incredibly rigid and frustrating, it is worth investing the time and effort into developing an English teacher CV and cover letter which can truly articulate why you will be a great teacher.