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How to write your teach abroad resume/CV

Here at Teaching Nomad we get many applications in a typical day from people applying for many different jobs teaching in China, for a whole range of positions from newbie teachers looking to cut their teeth on the China teaching experience all the way to old hands on the international teaching market. With all this variety the form of application varies greatly. This is fine! As recruiters we actually really enjoy seeing a little bit of variety as it makes the day interesting.

However one thing that makes our josb more difficult is when people send Resumes/CV’s that place barriers to their successful application. Remember that your goal as an applicant is to get us to want to call you!

"What are these barriers?" we hear you all cry! (In our heads we hear you cry anyway). We're going to give you some of the top 3 tips below in the form of key questions you should ask yourself before sending over your resume.
1: Does everything look correct? Have I spelled the whole document correctly and checked it at least twice? laptop

Please do remember you are applying for an English teaching job (or a job that will use English in some capacity), if you have spelling errors or typos in your resume this is a big turn off to a recruiter and a school. Get a spell checking software - don’t type it in Notepad or anything else that doesn’t accept spell checks and formatting! Likewise, if you’re old-school with your writing/reading then  get a print out and correct it by hand! One thing we always do with important mailings or documents is we get someone to check it before we send it out as no matter how careful we are we can also miss something.
2: How does my resume look and read?

Before you send a resume off, take a step back and imagine how easy it is to read for a person who isn’t you! STRUCTURE your C.V.! 
It often doesn’t matter what structure you use so long as it’s clear, concise and readable. Formatting is important and in many cases it seems to be feast or famine. It’s either way too little writing, making it hard to read or it's just way too much, making it a smorgasbord of design and fluff that makes a resume look hollow. 

Make use of headings, sub-headings, categorisations, font and enboldening, underlining and italics. Is it really necessary to use ‘comic sans’ font as your body text? If you’re going to underline something is it the thing you really want to emphasise?
Tables can also be nice to layout your resume but bear in mind that they sometimes go a little skewed on different machines and reading methods so keep them simple without too much embedding.
3. Do I have the essential information on my resume and is it relevant to the job I’m applying for?
This sounds simple but we'd like to re-emphasise that the teaching posts you will be applying to will want to see your relatable skills and experience. It’s great you’ve been an engineer for 20 years, however should that take up a page at the expense of your 2 years ESL experience? True it may be the lion’s share of your life experience but it’s not relevant to teaching kids!
Also, check that you have the right basic information in your C.V.; important factors are as follows: 
  • Emphasis on the right information including dates (preferably with months not just years), also try to make sure overlapping dates are explained.
  • Emphasise the right skills: Education, training and development, English presentation skills, public speaking, working with certain age groups, tutoring and classroom experience are all important to your application. Many ‘crossover’ skills might not substitute for direct experience but a well thought out resume will make a big difference for a borderline situation of ‘are you suitable for the job?’.
  • Explain long gaps of inactivity and overly short terms of employment-why did you leave a job? Was it a short term contract? Did you have a family situation? Leaving this information out will prompt questions from any recruiter or school worth their salt. Also make sure to state whether work is part time or full time as having three jobs in one year could potentially look bad if dates and f/t p/t status isn’t complete.
  • KISS! Not 'Keep It Super Simple', as you may be aware of, in this context I say: 'Keep It Short and Sweet'. Some say resumes should be no longer than a page. I’d say a threshold of 1.5 or 2 is ok but certainly not 3 pages or more! It makes it very difficult to sift through for the key info that’s in there. Use short and sharp sentences that get to the point. Bullet points and numbers are your friends here.

For teaching positions, or in fact any jobs in China, the standard required information on your resume and C.V is a little different than in the west:

  • Photos: Chinese resumes generally require a photo in the resume or at least attached to it in some way. Make sure that your photo is appropriate to the job and if you’re looking to work with kids, a photo with a smile is likely to sway more than a serious one!
  • D.O.B.: This is a tricky one as many countries in the west state it is illegal for companies to request this info however, it’s a very normal and necessary thing for schools to do here, if only because of the Chinese work permit restrictions.
  • Nationality: Include the nationality that’s on your passport! Teaching positions in China usually require a native speaker from the 7 ‘core’ countries of USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. If you’re not from these places it will be harder (but not impossible) to find work. Most of the time this requirement is down to work permit restrictions rather than any real discrimination on the part of the school.
  • Contact Details: This is an international position in a modern and changing world. Make sure to have at least 2-3 ways of someone contacting you on your C.V.  We personally like to see an email, a phone number and also some form of digital chat contact such as MSN, Skype,QQ etc. It’s worth noting too that Skype will be a common way for you to be interviewed for international teaching positions so get signed up! It’s free and makes it a much nicer (and cheaper) method of communication.
Good luck writing your resume/C.V! Hopefully this will help you to find that great teaching post you’ve been looking for!

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Happy Teaching Nomads

  • Kimmi, USA Placed in Shanghai

    I truly appreciate all the work that Teaching Nomad did upon arriving to Shanghai. Teaching Nomad helped with everything else once I landed, from paperwork to directions. Everyone at the agency is wonderful and extremely helpful and welcoming.
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Teaching Nomad is your connection to teaching in Asia & The Middle East! We are a western owned and operated teacher placement agency based in Shanghai. We take a lot of pride in connecting teachers with great teaching opportunities.



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Address: Kangding Road No. 1018, Yi Ge Building, Third Floor, Suite 306 Shanghai, Prc

 Phone: (0086) 21 3319 9715