Resume Writing for Teaching English Jobs in Thailand
We won’t get bogged down about the difference between a resume and CV, especially since HR personnel are familiar and comfortable with both. As an American, I’m more familiar with resumes. As such, I’m approaching this as resume writing.
However, most of these tips are general principles that apply to all writing, copywriting, MARKETING, etc. Yes, I said MARKETING. Your resume/CV and your cover letter are your chances to MARKET yourself! Heck, the Subject Line of your email is a chance to MARKET. Why stop there, so is your email address**!
Tips from a Director of Human Resources at The Princeton Review
- This is NOT OPTIONAL!
- This is one of the common differences between a Resume and a CV, and it is the one that matters.
- Companies are going to expect that you put a RECENT photo somewhere in your application. Either on your resume itself or attached in your email. That won’t be shocking to some of you, but will be to some, such as Americans.
- If you DON’T put a photo in your application, do NOT expect to hear back. It’s just that simple.
Be Concise, Be Specific
- Your Resume is Prime Real Estate. Assume your real estate is limited to one page. This helps guide your decisions. Yes, CV’s are usually more extensive, 2-4 pages, but assume you’re either going to win or lose on PAGE ONE!
- Write Normally and Naturally. Don’t bloviate & be Mr. Intemperate. What you say? Exactly! Don’t use Word’s synonym function wily-nily and don’t try to make things sound grander than they are. Oftentimes, the person reviewing your application won’t be a native speaker, so there’s no need to try to impress with your over-eloquence. Not that us native speakers care either.
- Use Specific Examples. (Show, Not Tell. Achievements Over Duties.)
- Under my leadership, sales increased by 33%, profit margin increased 21%, etc. etc. VS. I was responsible for improving sales and increasing profit margin while at my job.
- I independently planned and organized field trips. Trip frequency increased from 4 times a year to 12 times a year. Participation increased from 12% to 28%. VS. I was responsible for planning successful field trips that people liked.
- I was solely in charge of planning and managing field trips for 250 church-members. VS. I am a very responsible person who is able to work alone.
- Working with 3 other Associates we planned and implemented blah blah blah. VS. I am a team player who works well with others.
Skills, Experiences, Accomplishments to Highlight
- Whether you’ve been a teacher before or not, you might not realize which SPECIFIC skills, experiences, accomplishments are most relevant.
- What skills, experience, characteristics, etc. are us recruiters looking for? In no particular order:
- Fun, Energy & Enthusiasm. If you seem overly-officious and serious (especially in your photo) you risk your resume NEVER being read. Thailand is the Land of Smiles, so smile! Let your resume “smile” with enthusiasm and genuine joy. HIGHLIGHT fun things you’ve done and been responsible for.
- Teaching/Tutoring/Mentoring/Training/Coaching Experience. Duh! You don’t have to have ever taught English. Heck you don’t even have to have ever taught, but if you have, HIGHLIGHT it! If you’ve done anything that reasonably resembles “teaching”, whether it’s kids or adults, HIGHLIGHT it.
- Leadership Experience. Teaching is about leading as much as anything else. YOU will be solely in charge of groups of people. It will be YOUR responsibility to effectively lead and manage YOUR classrooms. If you were a Scout Leader, let them know. If you were ever in charge of a GROUP of people (kids, adults, church-members, stamp collectors, etc.), HIGHLIGHT it!
- Planning & Organizational Skills. Do you seem scattered-brain or clear and focused? Can you point to specific things you’ve planned and organized? If you ever planned a family reunion, let them know. Heck, if you’ve planned and rebuilt a car, planned a catering event, etc., let us know!!! Planning and organizing are two VERY critical skills for teachers. If you think you can just ‘show up and wing it’, you have a nice surprise in store for you 🙂
- Responsible. For the most part, you will be running the show. You will be working independently. Recruiters/employers want to trust that they can hire you and you will take ownership and responsibility for the job. They don’t want people they have to constantly “stay on top of”. They don’t want to be your mother! There are a lot of flakes in this world, and a lot of them end up teaching English in Thailand. Don’t look flaky!!!! Recruiters have a very sensitive antenna for finding flakes. Although they still hire flakes (they don’t have a choice sometimes), they give them the less desirable positions; jobs where a warm-body is sufficient.
- Communication Skills. Can I understand what you’re saying?
- Working Independently & Without Supervision. One of the coolest things about teaching English in Thailand is that oftentimes looking over your shoulder, telling you what to do, etc. On the other hand, that means the responsibility to guide, motivate, set and meet deadlines is YOURS! You will be running the show!
- Age Group Experience. If you’re applying for a job teaching adults, businessmen, children, etc., highlight any experience you have with the SPECIFIC age-group.
- Creativity. You don’t have to be creative to be a teacher, but we’ve seen some amazing things by people who were creative. Being musical or artistic is a BIG PLUS!
- Working With Diverse Cultures. You’ll have to be a bit careful with this. If your idea of diversity is that you’re a white guy and have black & Asian friends from your childhood neighborhood, I won’t be impressed. That’s superficial diversity. You’re more similar to each other than a Thai person who grew up in the US is to a Thai person who grew up in Thailand. We want real diversity; working with recent immigrants, working with underprivileged families, working with gang members, etc. Diversity is working with people who grew up under very different circumstances and in a different culture, not the color of one’s skin.
Length (What Job Experience to Include)
- Were not looking for a laundry list. We don’t want to know EVERYTHING you’ve ever done.
- I want to know what you’ve done that is DIRECTLY RELEVANT to THIS job.
- Think, “What is the recruiter likely to care about?” Your experience mowing lawns in high school? Probably not. (Unless it somehow tells a story about how the experience will make you a better teacher.)
- Do I really need to hear about all your jobs from 10+ years ago? Well, if it’s somehow DIRECTLY relevant to the current job you’re applying for, then yes. BUT, only if the skills, experience, etc. are somehow NOT evidenced in more recent jobs.
- Usually, it’s just your most recent jobs; last 5 years or so.
Include Hobbies, Extracurricular Activities, & Volunteer Work
- Try and make it relevant to #3. I’ve seen resumes full of “I volunteer at a soup kitchen. I volunteer to do beach clean-up. I volunteer to give blankets to the homeless.” We get it. You’re a charitable sort, but I want to know how that ties into what we talked about in #3.
- Hobbies & Extracurricular Activities will tie into the “FUN” we talked about before. Also, it opens up possibilities of things you can do for the employer and/or school. I ended up being the coach of a high school team because I listed “basketball” as a hobby. Who would’ve thought?!?!
Fonts, Spacing & Formatting
- Keep your fonts simple. Don’t get overly fancy with them. No cursive scripts. Use standard fonts, for the most part. We personally use Verdana, Arial, Helvetica & Tahoma. Times New Roman, Calibri, Myriad Pro, Georgia, Courier & Tahoma are also popular, standard and familiar fonts. Don’t fret about it. Pick 1 font for your body text & 1 for your headings and roll with it!
- Maximum of 3 fonts. Headings, Subheadings, and Body.
- Instead of over-using fonts, use italics, bold, & underline to differentiate parts of your Resume. Don’t over do this.
- Font Size. Every font is different, but as a rule, 10 point font is the ABSOLUTE minimum for body text. We recommend 12 point font for the body and 14 point for headings.
- Spacing should be single to 1.5. Don’t try to jam things in by cutting out spacing between lines.
- Have a few friends look at it. Ask them for their ‘first glance’ impression; “What did you think when you first saw it?”
An example, a specific example, is BEST!
I was responsible for selling blah blah blah
planning and organizing events for our church
Planning & Organizing. I pl
Try to avoid short stint jobs unless that’s how they were meant to be.
**Yes, you can and probably will be judged by your email address and the Sent From name in your email. I have an email address that has the word ‘dude’ in it. Do you think I use that one to apply for jobs? No. I simply use myname@…com. To see what your Sent From says, send an email to another of your email addresses (or make a new one). Some of you will be surprised what you see. Would you hire THAT guy?!