Your CV, also known as a Curriculum Vitae or Resume, is a document that concisely outlines your personal information, education and work history. It provides the first impression that any employer will have of you and will strongly influence whether or not they want to speak with you further. Yet trying to engagingly summarise yourself, and to figure out what a potential international employer wants to know is difficult for many people, teachers included. We are too close to the subject matter.
This is where Edvectus can help.
Our many years of experience across schools in over 40 countries has taught us what international schools want to see on a CV, and what they don’t want to see. So read on for general CV tips, and also some specific tips for teachers who have special CV challenges.
Let’s start by understanding what most International Schools really want to see on a CV... what is ‘perfection’ in their eyes even if we know most people are not perfect.
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International schools need someone who has the education and experience to enable them to sponsor a visa, who is suited to the housing they provide, and who can live comfortably on the salary provided.
They want a teacher who has researched their country and culture and feels it’s suited to them, who has resilience, who shares their school ethos, who will get academic results, who will relate well to their students and fee paying parents, and who will be able to settle quickly and successfully within their new host country.
They ideally want someone who is trained to teach the curriculum, subject and level that they are hiring for and who has recent experience doing it as this lowers the risk for them though this matters more to some schools than others.
And if those hurdles are passed, they will prefer a teacher who, if successful, will renew their contract and is promotable within the school because no school likes to lose a valued member of staff. Which is why they don’t like teachers with a built in expiry date.
Do not stress about getting your CV on one page. A 1-3 year experienced teacher would be expected to have a CV of 2 pages. A 4-10 year experienced teacher up to 3 pages. But don't ever go above 5 pages, please. Nobody will read that far and they will simply move on to the next candidate if you can't present what is relevant within that frame.
There you have it. That’s what all schools really want - even if they don’t tell you. (They tell us).
Now that you know what they really want, let’s take a look at how your CV should be constructed to show them what you have in the best possible light.
List your full name as it appears on official documents big and bold on the top (but not in the header section of a word document), and if you are known by a nickname then list that too.
Put in your address including country, your personal (not school) email address, and a telephone number (ideally home number and mobile/cell numbers) right underneath so they know how to reach you quickly and easily..
HINT: Double check the email address and telephone number and make sure it is correct. You would be surprised at how many jobs have been lost because the email was outdated or phone digits transposed, and the teacher could not be contacted. If there are plenty of applicants for the job, employers will often take it as a sign you are not very detail orientated and just move on to the next CV in the pile rather than play detective.
Schools will also want to know your date of birth, because age can affect your ability to get certain types of visas, as well as your marital status and number/ages of dependents who will come with you because this affects the housing they can offer you. So get that out of the way from the start. It’s not helpful to ignore or bury it because if they can’t legally sponsor your visa or house you, they can’t sponsor your visa or house you... no matter how much they want to.
List your country of citizenship/nationality. If you have more than one, list them all. Again, this can affect the visa situation.
Hint: There is one exception. Let’s say you have a lot of recent experience in teaching the English National Curriculum but you are Australian. If you want to land another English National Curriculum job, it’s best to put your citizenship at the very end of your CV under heading Other Personal Details. This way the employer will unconsciously categorise you as “a teacher of English curriculum” rather than “an Australian teacher and thereby a teacher of mainly Australian curriculum”. It’s subtle but effective.
You do not need to list your ethnicity, religion, parent’s names, or national identification number.
Whilst not always required, we have found that a nicely written, concise (3-4 sentences) profile paragraph can help to draw attention to your strong points and set the stage for the rest of your CV that follows. It’s hard to sum yourself up in a mere 4 sentence paragraph, but it can make a big difference to results. Here are some profile paragraph hints:
Yes, all of this information will be repeated in more detail in the other parts of your CV but putting it front and centre helps the school to develop the first, stronger mental picture of your capabilities and training that will be fleshed out later.
It helps them quickly answer the critical questions about you that all international schools will have, and avoids the chance they will only skim-read your CV (and possibly make wrong assumptions) looking for the answers to the top 3 questions.... which are: What are you qualified/certified to teach, what have you been recently teaching and for how long have you taught. Most of us who read lots of CVs, Head Teachers/Principals included, will skim to find the answers to those critical questions before deciding to read further and if you don’t make us work for it we will appreciate you for it.
HINT: The profile paragraph should be no more than ¼ of the page, and ideally 3-4 sentences.
Next is your educational history. The rule with CVs is to put the most relevant information on top- so for most people this means to put your teacher training and university education on top, with everything else underneath. There’s no need to detail every single qualification you have ever received if it’s not relevant to the job you are going for, and we don’t recommend you list your primary or secondary education here. It takes up too much room and is not really relevant.
What schools want to know is “Do you have a degree, what is it and where is it from” and “Do you have teacher training that is relevant to what I need?” Answer these questions and move on; so list your degree and teacher training/certification, where you got it from, what are the details of subject/age ranges. If your teacher certification/qualification has an expiry date, list it.
HINT: Any other less relevant or less important training can be put in the back of your CV under ‘Other training and education’.
As with educational history, but the most recent first and work backwards in time. This is because it is most likely the most relevant and freshest experience you have. Make sure to list both the month and the year you started and finished each job, but if you have moved positions within a school, list it as a single entry – otherwise it looks like you were job hopping (which is not good) when in fact you were promoted in post (which is good).
At the back of your CV you can list other less relevant items such as less relevant education or work experience, interests, hobbies, papers or presentations you have given, etc.