So you want to start teaching English online, in fact, you’ve already applied to many companies. But there’s a problem. You haven’t heard back from any of the companies you’ve applied to. You start to questions whether you’ll actually find a job. Well, don’t fret! Today I’m going to show you what ESL employers are looking for in a teacher resume and cover letter.
I remember when I first started applying for teaching jobs. I didn’t have any experience teaching so I just sent my “normal” resume. What I didn’t realize is that the ESL teaching industry is different from applying to jobs in the US for example.
You see one thing that I kept seeing in some job ads was to include a photo or the company would ask for some personal information like if I was married or my age. In the US these are generally questions that employers cannot ask a potential job applicant.
So I would just ignore these parts of the ads and send in my resume.
However, this was a mistake. I didn’t know that those “rules” in the US don’t apply to all countries. Also, the teaching industry is unique in that many schools and companies ask for this information.
After doing more research, I found out the best way to format my job resume and I started to see immediate results!
How to apply for a teaching position
So let’s talk about what employers are actually looking for in a teaching resume. Keeping these different things in mind will make sure that your resume gets noticed and that you get that call back for an interview!
Include a CV
You need to include a cover letter. Make sure that it’s not too long. Try to keep it to one page if possible. What do you include in your cover letter?
You want to highlight your relevant skills, experience, and qualifications. Remember that employers may receive hundreds of applications and may just skim through them for those that stand out.
So make sure you’re one of those that stands out! Don’t include any information that’s not relevant for the position. Just focus on your applicable experience.
Don’t just send out the same cover letter to each company. Employers want to have teachers who are genuinely interested in working for them. So you need to personalize each cover letter you send.
Yes, this means more work! So be selective! Apply only to companies that you really want to work for.
Read through the job description carefully and note down reasons why you think you would be a good fit for the position. Include these reasons in your cover letter.
Be specific and show don’t tell.
What does that mean? It means that if the company is looking for a teacher that can relate well to students, instead of saying that you think you’re a good fit, explain why. For example, you could say something like:
“I believe I’d be a good fit for this position because I relate well with my students. I’m a good listener and like to find common ground with my students so that I can tailor classroom activities to subjects that will interest my students”.
Do you see how I took a quality the employer was looking for and gave an example of how I fit that requirement? If you do this on your cover letter for each position you apply for, you’ll be certain to stand out!
What to include in your teaching resume
While a TESOL certificate is not always required, it is becoming more of a standard requirement for most teaching positions. Having a TESOL certification is especially important if you have no experience teaching, as it at least tells your potential employer that you have the training to teach.
Having your TESOL certificate also shows that you’re serious about teaching and really are invested in doing well in a teaching position. If you need to obtain a TESOL certification make sure to look for one with at least 120-hours and from a reputable source. Check out our post on how to find a reputable course.
ESL employers, like any employers, are going to be looking for relevant experience for the position you’re applying to. However, if you don’t have teaching experience or are new to teaching English, don’t get discouraged!
You see relevant experience doesn’t have to necessarily be a previous teaching position. What you want to do is highlight any experience that is related to teaching.
So many skills that you have experience with can transfer into the classroom and would be relevant experience. For example, have you trained a coworker on new software or a specific task? Have you worked with children in a daycare or taught your own children to read? Have you given presentations or hosted a public event?
All these different examples would include skills that are essential in the classroom. Include these skills on your resume and highlight them. Remember you need to show how you’d use these skills in the classroom. Show don’t tell!
Include all the details
Don’t discount the details in your experience. For example, if you’ve taught before specify whether you taught a group of students or one-on-one. Or if you have experience with children include the age groups of the children you worked with.
If you have previous business experience, include the special knowledge that you have. For example, if you worked at a bank before, specify that you have knowledge of banking terminology and finance vocabulary.
Additions to your teaching resume
A video or photo
Some companies will ask for an introductory video or a photo to include with your resume or application. This may seem a bit strange but actually it’s very normal for the ESL industry.
If the job asks for a video or a photo and you apply without including one, your application will probably not even be considered. So follow the directions that are given.
They’re usually looking for a teacher that is professional, well dressed and groomed, friendly, confident and a fluent English speaker. So make sure that the video you send shows these qualities. If you send a photo, make sure it’s professional. This includes the background as well!
This is really important! I can’t tell you how many messages I get from people who are asking about teaching English and their messages are full of typos and poor grammar.
As an English teacher, you will be expected to have impeccable English. Any errors with grammar or typos will undermine your efforts to prove yourself a good candidate. So make sure to run your cover letter and resume through a spellchecker. Read your cover letter and resume out loud, and ask a friend to proofread it for you.
ESL employers are looking for teachers with good communication skills. Remember as a teacher you will often need to explain difficult concepts and be able to speak clearly.
If you have any experience that demonstrated good communication skills it should be highlighted. Have you worked in customer service, human resources or marketing? Highlight the skills you used in these positions showing how you are a good communicator.
In some teacher positions you may need to teach groups of students, so having some people management skills would be really desirable by employers. So if you have experience managing people highlight this experience.
I know you’re probably tired of this phrase but- show don’t tell. For example, don’t just say you were a manager or supervisor and list all the tasks you did. Instead, show how that position would help you in the classroom:
“As a manager for XYZ, I facilitated group discussions with a team of seven to ten employees. I was able to give each employee time to give their opinions and then respond to each employee’s needs within the group. I feel that I can use these same skills to give each student time to be heard and to feel that they have an active part in the class.“
Good planning and organization skills
As a teacher, you will likely need to do some lesson planning and keep track of multiple students. So having good planning and organization skills is important. Make sure to highlight any experience or skills you have with time management, organization and/or planning.
Your contact details
This may seem like a no-brainer but many times people forget to include their contact details or to update them when they change. Make sure to put your contact details at the top of your documents so they are easy to find!
Now you’re ready!
As you can see there is a lot to keep in mind when you applying for a teaching job. I know that these tips will help you as you look for your next job teaching English online!
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Do you have any resume tips that you’ve found helpful in your teaching journey? Share them below in the comments!