How to Write a KILLER Resume To Teach ESL in China

Liz Smith
Career China Digital Marketing Manager
Jul 8, 2018

No matter how much schooling you’ve had or certifications you’ve obtained, a critical part of landing a great ESL teaching job in China is to write a great resume. Many people make the mistake of treating a teaching resume the same as any other. However, there are other characteristics that you should consider when writing a teaching resume that will make you stand out from the crowd.  

Further, there are some important differences when you are applying for a job in China that you should keep in mind so that you include the proper information on your resume. Here’s what you need to know about how to write a resume that will get you an ESL teaching job in China!

Basic Information You Must Include on any ESL Resume


Like with any job, you want to make sure your ESL resume can give you the best shot possible at getting that teaching job in China. So, it's important to immediately highlight required qualifications such as:


-      Bachelor’s degree (school, date, major)

-      TEFL or other teaching certifications

-      Previous job roles & some details about your responsibilities

-    Contact information (email, phone number, Skype, WeChat, etc.)

Highlight Notable Skills / Training that Relate to Teaching, Traveling, or Living Abroad


You should also highlight any special skills you might have; this includes any other specific training you've received related to teaching, or to the job in particular. For example, if you are applying for a young-learners job, maybe you want to highlight skills you have in working with children, etc. 


Further, if you have any kind of experience living, traveling, or working overseas…be sure to include this on your resume! The more familiar you are with living abroad, the better your chances of getting the attention of hiring managers. It also shows that you have experience navigating in another country.

Include Your Personal Information


Lastly, you should be prepared to disclose personal information regarding your age, marriage status, and place of birth. This may seem strange, but keep in mind that you are attempting to move overseas, which will require visas to be obtained for you and any family who will be joining you. It's important for the recruiter / school to know this in advance so they can inform you how to prepare & allow extra time if needed.


What's a CV vs. a Resume and When Should You Be Expected To Use One? 


Some employers may also ask for a CV--or Curriculum Vitae ("Course of Life".) If you live in the US, you're probably used to a potential employer asking for your resume rather than a CV. 

While CV's are used academic or research positions here, it's much more likely that you'll be asked for a resume for teaching jobs in China. In European, Asian, and African countries, however, you're more likely to use a CV instead. (CV's typically contain more personal information that is relevant to an international employer.)


There are a few differences between a CV and a resume. For one, a CV is quite a bit longer than a resume (two pages or more) and gives a more detailed background of your experience and skill set. A CV also includes more personal information regarding age, education, marital status and place of birth. 

ESL Resume Tips to Remember to Get a Teaching Job in China


1. Include Skills in Addition to Experience

Firstly, don't just write about work experience. While work experience is important (and you should include it -- as well as a few points about your responsibilities), focusing on it exclusively is not a good idea.  You want to highlight your education & special skills that you have which are directly related to the job you are apply for, or transferable skills (which can be applied to various jobs).  

Being well-rounded is crucial. While some employers may care about education more than career experience, others want to see more experience.  

2. Keep It Simple & Easy to Read (Remember, Non-Native Speakers May Be Reading Your Resume)

There's no need to make it complicated. Keep the formatting simple, and organize your work and education experience in a way that is easy to read. No matter how qualified you are, you could get turned away because of a hard-to-understand CV. 


Be careful about using abbreviations or jargon. Remember that the recruiter and potential employer in China who will be reading your CV or resume is not likely to be a native English speaker. Shortened words like "VP" and "Mgr" may confuse the employer as well as verbal phrases or slang words that could be interpreted literally (and perhaps incorrectly) by the reader. 

3. You Must Include a Professional Photo (No Selfies!)


Include a professional photo! It may seem strange to those of you from countries like the USA, but in Asia putting a photo on a resume is not just standard practice…but more of a requirement. In China, the culture is very much about building a personal relationship – even in business.  

So, having a photo helps employers to put a face to a name and start to feel like they are making more of a personal connection with you. This is critical in the Chinese culture.  However, take care to make sure it's a professional-looking headshot and not a casual selfie taken with friends. 


A Basic Way to Format Your Resume or CV for a Teaching Job in China

1. Personal Information: This is where you can list your name, contact information, citizenship status and any kind of education or work visa that you may have. It's important that your potential employer understands your citizenship status when moving internationally. To some Americans, this may seem like a lot of private information to disclose, but international employers are used to seeing this. 


2. Education: Before listing your work experience, you should highlight your education--especially since you're applying for an ESL teaching job. Include programs, degrees, and awards that you've received. It's especially crucial to point out your TEFL certification and even talk about your program a little bit. Be sure to list your highest qualifications first (For example, if a TEFL certification is your highest credential, put that first.) If you don't have an Education degree, highlight specific courses taken in English literature, public speaking and journalism instead. 

3. Skills: After education, it's time to talk about your skill set. Point out any specific skills you might have. Expertise in areas like foreign language, literature or programming might positively influence your chances. 


4. Career Experience: Now it's time to list any previous companies you've worked for in the past ten years along with your job title there. Don't forget to put the end and start dates, and emphasize the responsibility you held at each place. Even if the job isn't related to teaching ESL, you should still try and list something that you learned there. (For example, working as a cashier in the fast food industry might have taught you how to communicate effectively and manage your time.)

No Experience, No Worries!


If you're fresh out of college and lacking actual job expertise, don't feel discouraged! instead, focus on any activities related to teaching. Keep in mind, this doesn't have to be paid work--experience is experience. Volunteer work in an ESL classroom is just as important as a job with a salary. 

5. Hobbies and Recreation: More than just your experience, you want your employer to understand who you are as a person and what you spend your time doing. Including your recreational activities not only helps you look more interesting but can also separate you from other applicants. Any hobbies that relate to teaching or public speaking are an added bonus too (employers want passionate employees that really care about what they're doing. This section of your CV can show your commitment to teaching.)

6. References: Although this may not be required, adding references is a good idea. When you spend two pages talking about what makes you special, it's nice to have someone to back those claims up. Try and use at least three different references (none of which have to be your current employer) that you know fairly well. Be sure to list contact information like phone numbers, company names, country codes and email addresses. 



Use These Tips for Your ESL Teaching Resume & Improve Your Chances of Landing an Interview!


Applying for an ESL teaching job in China might seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Although there are some differences between an international resume than resumes in your country, don't let this scare you - just make sure you have all the relevant information and keep the formatting simple. 


Lastly, once you have created a great teaching resume you will be able to upload it directly online to apply for the job you are seeking. Here at Career China, we make it easy for you to find a job in China. Go to our China ESL job opportunities page to search jobs and apply directly, or you can create a profile and upload your resume to your profile so you can apply for a job in just 1 click! 

Once you have landed your interview, be sure to check out our post on How to Ace Your ESL Interview!

For more advice on living and working in China, check out The Ultimate Guide for Moving to China

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