Build a winning TEFL CV

What does your TEFL/TESOL CV say about you?

A winning TEFL CV should pass the eight-second test. After that, you don’t have long to impress the hiring manager when applying for F2F (face to face) or online EFL or ESL teaching roles. Studies show that Directors of Studies (DOS) spend between five and eight seconds on average looking at a prospective TEFL/TESOL candidate’s CV. That’s less than the time it takes for the water in your kettle to boil.

So how can you ensure your application lands in the ‘yes’ pile with such little time to impress? At EBC Trinity College CertTESOL, we have been in the hiring market for quite a time now (we hit our 18th year in 2022!!!), and we want to share our guide on passing the eight-second CV test with you.

Keep it short

CVs are never one-size-fits-all.

However, it depends on how much information you share. Most hiring managers say you have to limit it to two pages, and more than three will be a definite turn-off.

The key is to “cut the fat”. Ask yourself the question, “is this sentence vital to the TEFL or TESOL role I’m applying for?” If you find yourself saying no, then drop that sentence. That sentence should not make the final cut.

Now let’s talk about your educational qualifications. When it comes to your skills and qualifications – be specific. Add start and end dates, qualification types and grades. You don’t need to add all of your qualifications either. At least two or three will usually be fine. For example, suppose you have an MBA, a business degree, your Trinity Colege CertTESOL or another OFQUAL Level 5 (entry-level teaching) certificate. In that case, you may find that you can exclude GCSEs, A-Levels or Secondary school qualifications from your CV.

Capture the reader’s attention

Whatever job you’re applying for, you must tailor your CV to include relevant examples of your work. By doing so, you show the Director of Studies or Hiring Manager that you’re suitable for the role.

That is even better if you have a specific role in mind (VYL, TEYL, Business English students, General English, etc.). Look at the job specs, the type of experience they are looking for, and use your CV to match the job specs. This shows the DOS or the Hiring Manager that you’re the right match – not to mention dedicated enough to work on your CV and job application.

And if you find that your experience doesn’t exactly match the job description, don’t panic. Instead, take some time to think about your transferrable skills and show that you’re willing, able and equipped to handle the duties at hand.

Follow a logical, easy to navigate layout

Good use of formatting is vital to a successful CV.

Choose an easy-to-read structure with clear headings, and use bullet points to highlight key points and relevant information. Emphasise the info you want employers to see first, and always use a logical order.

For example, if you haven’t got a lot of previous TEFL or TESOL experience, focus on your statement, qualifications and skills instead. If you have done a similar role, show the relevance of that role to the teaching role for which you are applying. Then, follow it up with your recent CertTESOL or another OFQUAL 5 entry-level teaching EFL/ESL qualification.

This will allow hiring managers or the DOS to find what they’re looking for right away and see if they can match your skills with their TEFL/TESOL availabilities. Without sounding repetitive here, you need to make the most of those precious 8 seconds that the hiring managers take to comb through your CV.

Don’t bury your strong points in layers of waffle.

Ditch the clichés

Nothing’s more likely to make a hiring manager switch off than a generic application.

Try to avoid phrases like “great team player” and “excellent communication skills”; all they do is make your CV look like everyone else’s. If your CV looks like loads of others, yours won’t stand out when a hiring manager scans your CV.

Instead, keep things positive, and always back up your skills, attributes and relevant work experience with real examples. After all, “increased the schools’ number of clients, their revenues by X amount” sounds a lot better than simply saying you’re a hard worker.

Hiring managers or those tasked with staffing the language schools are just as bored of reading the exact, overused and typical phrases as you are putting them on your CV.

Need more CV advice?

It takes an employer just eight seconds to save or reject a job applicant’s CV. Therefore, creating a brief CV is crucial if you want to land that ever-important job interview.

Get an expert opinion

It can be challenging to spot the flaws in your CV.

So instead of going through every detail, agonising over every little detail, save time by letting experts point out exactly where you might be going wrong.

There are some companies composed of teams of CV writers. They can sometimes help get your application to the top of hiring managers’ inboxes. Some will allow you to upload your CV to their site, and you’ll receive an expert CV review and evaluation within 72 hours – free of charge. I would think twice before paying an arm and a leg for additional expert advice. An accessible yet equally effective option is to ask your friends who are already practising EFL/ESL teachers. Ask them to look at your CV and tell them that you need their honest feedback.

Get started on building a winning TEFL CV

If you’re ready to put your CV to the test, have a serious look at it, ask the expert advisers to review it or even ask your friends who are practising teachers.

Find out today how your CV sounds to them. They might tell you that your CV needs some tuning up, but it was not that bad to start. All the best, and welcome to the exciting and challenging world of TEFL and TESOL.