➢ What can I put on my Resume and Cover Letter if I don't have teaching experience?
Our number one rule for resumes is: list accomplishments not just responsibilities. For example, if you were on student government, don't write: "Responsible for school events." Instead, write: "Increased student participation at annual charity event by 10%." Now, put down all work experience and education you have, including papers you have written and presented, teaching assistant positions, tutoring jobs, and anything you can think of that relates to teaching and/or working and list your accomplishments for each. Try to list examples showing you:
• Work well with others
Almost every job wants to know that you can work well with other people and teaching is no exception. In fact, being able to work with other people is even more important for teaching than it is for many other jobs because the whole job focuses on working with other people. Good teachers are able to connect with students and engage them in the class materials. Your ability to do this will make you a great teacher and schools look for these kinds of people. You may not have teaching experience, but there are many ways to show that you can connect and work well with other people. Use examples from sports teams or group projects at school. These can show that you work well in a group setting, which is a part of working well with others. If you have leadership experience, play it up as this will show you can lead people which is another important part of being a teacher.
• Can be successful doing your job or assignments
Think about all the times you have been successful. These are good examples for a resume. Any job success will be great for a resume since it shows that you are able to achieve goals in a work setting. Not everyone has job experience and that is nothing to worry about. Put down all the times you have been successful at school or in extracurricular activities as these will also show that you are goal oriented, able to achieve, and that you push through obstacles to achieve your goals. As an English language teacher moving abroad you will face many obstacles. Some will be in the classroom or on the job and some will be in your free time before and after work. Schools like to know that you can endure through difficulties. Examples of past successes regardless of the environment will show that you are a person who can get the job done and will persevere through difficulties.
• Are professional
Being a teacher means being a professional. As we say in our section about work attire, you will not need to show up to work dressed like these folks every day. However, when you submit your resume to schools and recruiters you should have a professional photo attached. Your professional appearance will let the schools and recruiters know that you take the job seriously and that you are responsible. Students often look up to their teachers. Thus, schools want to hire teachers who will be good role models for their students. Parents think much the same way. Presenting yourself professionally tells schools that you are a responsible person and they can trust you. When you register on ESL HitchHiker, upload a professional photo for your resume. After all, given the choice between a professional looking person and someone in a torn t-shirt, who would you hire.
• Are flexible
Living in a new country, you will find yourself in unexpected situations. Your ability to work within these new parameters will be important for your success. In short, you will have to be flexible. Ok so maybe you don't need to drink with your feet, but we know you get the idea. Things are going to happen that you are not prepared for and you will need to be able to adjust and keep going. These types of situations have most likely already occurred in your life. Perhaps when you first went away to college, or when you first shared an apartment with another person, or when you started your first job. All these firsts come with learning experiences. Teaching English overseas is no different. Schools and recruiters are already aware that you will come face-to-face with these challenges. They will be impressed if you are already aware of this too. Think about situations where something unexpected or uncomfortable happened in your life, you handled it like the mature adult that you are and kept moving forward. You can point to these occurrences in your resume and cover letter to let the school and recruiter know that you are prepared for the challenges of teaching and living abroad.
• Are friendly
Everyone like friendly people. This will be important as a teacher and as a co-worker. Many ESL teachers work with co-teachers. That is a teacher from the country where you are teaching. It is vitally important that you are able to get along well with your co-teacher as you will be working together each and every day. Letting the school know that you are a friendly person will tell them that you will do well working with your co-teacher. Being friendly is also crucial to your success as a teacher. English as Second Langauge teachers are often as much cheerleaders for their students as they are teachers. Students are often shy and not always confident about speaking English. Showing the school or recruiter that you are a friendly person will let them know that you will cheer your students on during your classes and help them build the confidence they need.
• Can take initiative
Teachers often need to take initiative. Everything is not always set up for you teach the best lessons and you will need to create new materials. You may be in a class and notice that the students are not understanding the lesson. These are just two examples of any number of situations teachers find themselves in that require them to take action. Most bosses like people who will not stand idly by while things go wrong, they like people who will see things are not working out for the best and do something to change the situation. The leaders of schools think they very same way. They have seen teachers who can think on their feet, take the initiative to make something great happen and they have seen those who don't. Without a doubt they prefer teachers who will take action. Think about times you have taken initiative to make something better and put them on your resume and cover letter.
• Be responsible and punctual
Finally, you will benefit from letting schools and recruiters know that you are responsible and punctual. This is not to say that you just show up to events on time. They can probably gather that from the fact that you graduated college. More important, is that you are self-reliant and able to complete tasks and duties on time and in good form. As you are well aware, teachers have lots of duties in addition to classes. They give homework, assignments and exams, grade them, and give students guidance on how to improve and become better. You will need to do these same things as an English teacher. Showing examples of how you have been responsible and punctual with your prior tasks and duties will show schools and recruiters that you are up to the task. They will believe you can handle the responsibility and this will put you ahead of other candidates who do not show these attributes. Language learning experience is also important as it lends itself to teaching a foreign language. Include any experience you have living or travelling abroad to show you are open to other cultures. Don’t be afraid to let yourself and personality show through your resume. Be sure to include examples of traits that will provide value as a teacher.
Finding examples of all these attributes can take some time. Be patient and think through your past experiences; you are sure to find some wonderful examples. Do not use this guide as a list trying to find one example for each of the categories. That is not the goal. Rather, find some really good examples for a few of the categories and use them in your resume and cover letter. You do not need to find something for all the categories, but you may find two examples for one category and one example for a few other categories. Choose the examples that best portray your greatest strengths and use those.