Understandably, the current situation with the coronavirus has created a lot of uncertainty in the teaching sector around the world. Not only do teachers with ambitions of working abroad have to deal with safety concerns, but also how this will affect their plans.
But while these challenges exist, there are a number of things you can do to prepare for the future, ensuring you are in a strong position to make the most of opportunities as soon as they arise.
In particular, the lockdown presents the ideal chance to review your current CV and ensure it is up to scratch when it is time to send out new applications. The international school market could be more competitive than ever once schools and air travel is permitted once again, and now is the time to make sure your CV stands out and addresses all the key points schools will be looking to cover.
Where to start with your international teaching CV
While of course the details you include on your CV will ultimately be the thing international schools will be looking for, failing to present the information in a clear and readable way could make the difference between success and failure, no matter how qualified you are for the role.
In many cases, due to the large number of responses the schools are likely to receive, in the first instance many will ‘skim read’ the CVs to make best use of time. Some studies have suggested you may even have as little as 6 seconds to make an impression on a prospective employer. In order to get to the next stage of the recruitment process, it’s vitally important the information you put onto your CV is readable, organised and concise.
While it may at first seem counter intuitive, a good CV is always built on a ‘less is more’ approach. Of course, you want to impress the reader with your experience and skills, but that doesn’t have to mean cramming in as much detail as possible.
CVs are intended to sell your skills and suitability for a role, rather than reading as a complete biography of everything you’ve achieved in your career to date – that sort of detail can come at a later stage if you secure a phone or face-to-face interview. Keep to the facts and provide evidence-based achievements as it will be digested far more easily by the HR department in the school (psychological studies back this theory up).
Layout and document type
Prospective employers will want to know your most recent, or current, work experience to quickly assess how it compares to the job description. Then list each of your job roles in reverse-chronological order, with a handful of bullet points detailing your main responsibilities.
Try to make these as relevant as possible to the job description you are apply to, as the recruiter will want to understand why they should choose you ahead of others for the next stage of the application.
Also be sure to use a Word document to organise the layout. There are a number of different versions of Word available, which can affect the formatting if saved in one version and opened in another. To avoid this happening when the recruiter receives your CV, save it as a PDF, so it will remain the same no matter who receives it and or how it is opened.
Read and re-read your CV again
The current coronavirus situation offers plenty of time to review your CV, so you can ensure it is in great shape. A key part of that is checking there are no spelling or grammar mistakes on the document. This is particularly important for English teachers, as even if these are genuine oversights, the recruiter is likely to make a quick judgement about your teaching ability based on the details contained on the CV.
Word will have a built-in spell and grammar checker, which can be helpful in the first draft, but nothing beats having a real person proofread the document. Sometimes you can be too close to a project to notice any mistakes, so be sure to have at least one more person proofread and sense check the content on the CV.
Things to avoid on the CV
A short personal statement at the top of the CV offers a quick overview of who you are and what you can offer. Avoid making this too long-winded and keep it brief and to the point in a maximum of 3-4 short sentences. Be sure not to oversell yourself here as that can be just as off-putting to first time readers. Remember, this document is all they have to familiarise themselves with you at this stage, so first impressions really count.
Also, avoid using too many acronyms as it can be confusing for the reader. Not every recruiter will have an immediate understanding of what these abbreviations mean, and if your CV is difficult to read, they may not bother looking at your application in any detail.
What to do next
Once you have got your CV in order, you may be wondering what to do next. If your town, city or country is still in lockdown, it will mean travel restrictions will still be in place, preventing you from attending schools in person.
However, some international schools are reopening and moving classes online, or lining up roles that are due to start in the next school year. This means you can start making applications as soon as you have updated your CV, and some schools may even consider conducting virtual interviews.
If you are considering teaching abroad for the first time, now is a great time to look into becoming TEFL certified. Not only will it ensure you are qualified to teach abroad, but it will open up opportunities to apply for online education roles that may be currently advertised during the current pandemic.
This post was written by Andrew Lynch, a Director at Teachingabroaddirect.co.uk. With hundreds of TEFL jobs available, Andrew knows the market inside and out, and is actively placing teachers in new TEFL roles across the globe. With your CV ready to go, get in touch to see how he might be able to help.