When completing your TEFL certification or applying for teaching jobs, you may have run across references to a “TEFL resume.” Is this different from a standard resume? And do you need one?
In reality, it’s not much different, but yes, you need one! However, it’s easy to make minor tweaks to your current resume so that it’s appropriate for English teaching jobs in the classroom or online. These tweaks will also help you stand out more than other candidates and grab a busy school director’s attention.
Tips for writing your TEFL resume:
1. Keep the style simple (use a template).
To do this, don’t use varying font sizes; stick to two, max. Also, limit yourself to using just one font style and one main color: black (using one other color as an accent is pretty widely accepted, too). You can use bold and italics for emphasis on headings but be sure to be consistent when you do (for example, use bold for all heading titles and italics for all job titles). Avoid ALL CAPS at all costs.
The good news is, instead of trying to decide how to organize your sections or which font styles and sizes look most professional, you can just choose a formatted template that does the work for you! Word has a bunch to choose from.
2. Make the most important info on your resume easy to scan.
School directors or hiring managers want to scan your resume for important details when they first see it, not read every word! So whether you use a template or not, be sure to make your resume easy to read with clear sections and job titles that pop.
3. Make your contact info abundant, professional, and clear.
The school director will likely communicate with you via email, but just in case, you want to be sure that you include a phone number with country code, as well as a Skype ID, and/or WhatsApp. For your email address, it’s best to keep it professional. If you are still using an old email address from your college days (firstname.lastname@example.org), it’s time to create a new one.
4. Include a photo and your personal information at the top of your resume.
This is one of the biggest differences between a regular resume and a TEFL resume. In some countries, information about our gender, age, or marital status is not shared as part of the hiring process; however, in many regions, this is not the case.
Therefore it’s commonplace to include a professional looking photo and a “Personal Information” section at the top of your resume, like this:
Country of citizenship: USA
English level – Native speaker
Marital status: Single
Date of birth: August 20, 1982
5. Put the most important qualifications first.
It makes sense to make “Education” the first heading on your resume since this is where the school can see your TEFL certificate and any degrees or other certifications you hold. After your personal info, this is the most important thing they want to know about you. This is a good order for a TEFL resume:
Other Professional Experience
Awards/Publications/Professional Memberships (This is optional, depending on your qualifications)
Skills (Also optional, but focus on hard skills, rather than soft)
6. Present your information in a concise way.
This is good advice for any resume, but certainly for a TEFL resume. Why? Mainly because the person reviewing your resume may not speak English as a first language. To make it easier for whoever reviews your resume to see your stellar qualifications right away, it’s best to keep job titles clear and keep your description of job responsibilities to-the-point. Also, avoid industry jargon or using flowery language. Here’s an example:
Adult Education Language Acquisition Specialist: Level 1
English Langauge Teacher – Adults
7. Avoid abbreviations– even common ones– on your TEFL resume.
While you might be tempted to include that you earned and M.Ed, are a member of the CATESOL, or served in the USMC for 10 years, your meaning may not be so clear to a school director in, for example, Taiwan. Spell everything out.
Remember that the overarching goal of your TEFL resume is to make it easy as possible for a language school to see the reasons they should hire you, such as you’re a proficient English speaker, you have a TEFL certificate and/or a degree, and maybe you have some relevant experience. Review your resume with this goal in mind and you’ll have yourself a TEFL resume.