You’ve got your TEFL certificate and you’re ready to start teaching English online. But your teacher CV is a mess and it isn’t written for teaching English online. Or it doesn’t exist yet! Here’s how to write the best teacher CV for teaching English online.
I’ve just finished writing my new teacher CV for teaching English online and it is getting me noticed! Before I was sending out my teaching CV and getting no responses. It was bad. But, now I have interview and demo class requests from the first schools I sent my new teacher CV to for jobs. The results are amazing!
How did I do it? I tailored my teacher CV for teaching English online. I re-wrote it specifically for teaching English as Second Language (ESL). Now it is helping me get hired to teach English online. That’s because a CV for teaching English online differs from other CVs. A strong teacher CV is a powerful tool. A must.
*Many schools use Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software to scan CVs and identify suitable applicants in the recruitment process.
How to write the best teacher CV for teaching English online
Begin with the aim in mind.
The goal is to write a teacher CV that will get you hired. A teaching CV that is going stand out from all the others and grab the recruiter’s attention. Recruiters that may receive hundreds of CVs a day! Plus, teacher CVs are often screened by ATS software, so your CV needs to pass ATS scans too.
A step-by-step guide to writing an effective teacher CV
1. What makes the best teacher CV for teaching English online?
The best teacher CV for teaching English online needs to:
- be easy to read and understand
- free of grammatical and spelling errors
- well designed (have a professional and clean layout)
- contain all the relevant personal and contact information
- convey your enthusiasm or passion for the job
- highlight your strengths as a teacher
- showcase your qualifications, experience and skills relevant to teaching
- show that you are of sound character / will be a good role model for students
2: Choose a teacher CV template / do the PATH course
I started by doing the PATH course “How to Create Your ESL Resume” by Just ESL Tutors. This short and easy course got me up to speed on the essentials and gave me lots of useful tips on writing a great teacher CV. It taught me what is required of a teacher CV for the ESL industry in particular.
After doing the PATH course, I did some of my own research on writing ESL teaching CVs. Here, I recommend that you skip to choosing a teacher CV template instead of spending too much time researching. The PATH course includes several free CV templates and examples which saves a lot of time and energy.
If you don’t want to do the PATH course, start the process of writing your CV by choosing a CV template for teaching English online.
There are plenty of online resume builders and CV websites where you can get ‘free’ (usually cheap) templates. These CV websites also share tips and guides with examples of how to write various sections of your CV. Note that some of these are generic teaching CVs, not ESL teaching CVs.
3 of the best CV websites and CV builders I found
- Zety.com – ESL Teacher Resume Examples (ESL Teaching on Resumes) & English Teacher Resume Sample (my favourite)
- Resume.io – How to Write an ESL Teacher Resume & ESL Teacher Resume Example
- ResumeViking.com – ESL Teacher Resumes & Writing Guide
The downside is that many of these resources require that you join or sign up for membership. The free accounts usually offer limited features or include watermarks on the CV templates. Some charge you to download the CV once you’ve created it and others charge you for the photo design feature. These charges were generally quite nominal though so you could pay for them if you choose.
In my experience, there was almost always a catch somewhere along the line with the online templates and CV builders. They were not entirely free, which is why I used the free templates included in the online PATH course in the end.
The PATH course included several different CV design options with and without a profile photo. ESL experts recommend including a photograph of yourself in your English teaching CV as photos are routinely requested as part of job applications. (see teacher CV photo tips below)
Before creating my teacher CV I wrote a list of ‘power words’. These are the words recruiters and ATS scan for that will help you get hired. I based my keywords on the list of ‘Keywords and Powerwords’ provided in the PATH course with Just ESL Tutors.
ESL teaching keywords to include in your teacher CV:
- experience teaching English / taught English as a Second Language (ESL) / ESL teacher / ESL tutor
- TEFL certified / TEFL certification / qualified ESL teacher (or TESOL) / English teacher
- time management / classroom management / project management
- teamwork skills / collaboration / leadership
- English grammar / phonics / language skills / fluency / literacy / vocabulary
- writing, reading, listening, speaking and comprehension skills
- accept and give constructive feedback
- setting exams and tests / assessing student performance
- ESL lesson planning / writing lesson plans / delivered classes
- patient / empathetic / adaptable / punctual / organised
- communication skills / exceptional communicator / active listening skills
- educator / education / student-guided learning / learner focussed / training
- passion for education / enthusiastic ESL teacher
The ESL resume PATH course also included useful lists of:
- Transferable Skills
- Hobbies and Interests
- Personality Traits
- Teacher Related Job Tasks
- Non-Teacher Related Job Tasks
Once I had selected a teacher CV template to use as an outline I gathered my personal information to flesh out the different sections of my teaching CV.
I found most of the information I needed on my LinkedIn profile and in old CVs of mine. Even though some of my old CVs aren’t teaching CVs I found them useful. They contained some relevant information (transferable skills, education and experience) and gave me insight into my strengths and weaknesses.
Information you’ll need for your teacher CV
- Your contact details
- Links to your introductory video and LinkedIn profile*
- Internet specs and a link to your internet speed test
- Teaching equipment specs (computer and headphones)
- Qualifications (TEFL certificate and degrees)
- Work experience (details of your previous jobs)
*If you don’t have an introductory video or LinkedIn profile for teaching yet then leave this out for now.
Add your information to the teacher CV template
I started writing my teaching CV by adding my contact and personal details. These should be at the top of your teacher CV or in the sidebar (at the top).
Personal & contact details to include in your teacher CV:
Most Important Information
- Native English-speaker (or Non-native English speaker)*
- TEFL Certified: Yes or No (it is highly advisable to get a TEFL certificate before applying for ESL jobs)
- Degree: Yes or No (this does not have to be a teaching or TEFL degree – if you have a degree in anything then write ‘Yes’)
- Nationality: South African, USA, Canadian etc
- Teaching Experience: ___ years/months
- Age: __ (or date of birth)
*If you are a non-native English speaker taking a proficiency test will help strengthen your teaching CV and improve your chances of getting hired. Widely recognised English proficiency tests include the IELTS, TOEFL and Cambridge proficiency exams.
- Telephone number: (include the dialling code for your country; + 27 for South Africa)
- Skype ID:
- Time Zone: GMT +2 (for South Africa)
Advice differs on whether to include your physical address in your teacher CV. It is not essential.
- Type of computer
- GHz and processor specs
- Type of camera your computer features
- The headset you use for teaching
- Internet speed: Wired 75/19 Mbps (if your internet is wireless omit ‘Wired’ and just write your upload and download speeds)
- View speed test here (add the link to your speed test from https://www.speedtest.net/)
- British, American, Canadian (if you are South African write ‘Neutral’ or ‘Neutral English’ unless you have a strong accent in which case leave this section out)
- Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp etc (Zoom and Skype are commonly used for teaching English online)
Educational information to include on your teacher CV
- TEFL Certificate – list the company you did it through, the date you completed your TEFL course and the type of REFL course
For example: TEFL Certificate – eTEFL Online [December 2020], 120-hour TEFL Certification Course
- Degree / Post-graduate Diploma (or qualifications recognised as equivalent to a degree) – follow the same format as above
Work experience to include in your teaching CV
Start with the most recent, relevant work experience that you have and work your way backwards.
If you don’t have teaching experience then include other relevant experience in your teacher CV, like training and mentoring. (see overcoming a lack of teaching experience, below).
If you are applying for a niche English teaching position then include the experience and skills that pertain to that niche. For instance, if you are applying for a position teaching Business English then include your business experience. The same applies to travel, academic, financial and other work experience related to niches. (find out more about English teaching niches, here)
- volunteer to teach English online or in real-time at a local library, church, school or non-profit organisation
- join an online teaching platform that doesn’t require teaching experience to start with so that you can add that to your ESL teaching CV
- offer to teach a friend or acquaintance for free to gain experience
- include other training, teaching, guiding or mentoring roles in your teacher CV (any experience as a group leader, guide or tutor)
Skills to include in your ESL teaching CV
List your skills that are most relevant to teaching in the sidebar of your teacher CV or below your work experience.
If you do not have skills specific to teaching English online then add the most relevant skills you have. Focus on the skills you have that are important for teaching English online. Skills that show you are good with people and the English language. If you don’t have ESL teaching skills include transferable skills that show you will make a good ESL teacher.
Other sections to include in your teaching CV
This is a weird one but in the ESL industry where you will be working with strangers and often children, it is advisable to include information about your personality.
When teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) you’ll be tutoring people from different cultures. Some of these are likely to be more conservative and traditional cultures than your own. This is another reason that information about your character is important. The aim is to convey that you are a respectable person with good values. More specifically, that you’re a respectful teacher who can navigate cultural differences with sensitivity.
A good way to quickly highlight your strongest selling points. I included a few short bullet points of my general and specific aptitudes. Such as ‘conversational English’ and ‘problem solving’.
Professional Goals (optional)
I added a short section for professional goals to the end of my teacher CV. I wanted to end on a high note rather than my oldest work experience. It is only two sentences long and summarises what my goals and aims are as an online English teacher.
The Professional Goals section was not included in the teaching CV templates and teacher CV guides that I saw online. It does make my CV a bit longer which is not ideal and it may be overkill. It’s up to you whether you want to include this as an extra section on your teacher CV. If your CV is already quite long (nearing 2 pages) then rather leave it out. Your teacher CV should be one or two pages long at the most.
Not all teacher CV templates include this section either. If you have solid references for teaching English then be sure to add them. Or state that your references are available on request.
5. Add a photo to your teacher CV
This is usually at the top of your CV with your name. It should be a head-and-shoulders photograph of you looking straight at the camera. Make sure that you look presentable and friendly in the photo. Do not use a selfie, and avoid photos that are too dark or out of focus.
- Based on the recommendations in the PATH course I asked someone to take a few professional-looking photographs of me in good lighting.
- Next, I made sure that my hair was neat and my clothes were presentable. I put on a little make-up, not too much.
- I opted for a white wall as a background because it is the least distracting for a head and shoulders profile photo. Alternatively, you can have your virtual classroom in the background with your teaching props and aids. The latter is better for online teaching platforms and profiles, but a plain background looks better for a CV photo. You can also take some photos with your headphones on. I did this and they make good profile photos for online teaching platforms.
Top Tip: Ask a friend or family member who takes good photos, preferably using an SLR camera.
The PATH resume course also had some excellent tips for taking your teacher CV photo.
6. Review & edit your teacher CV
Once you have completed the first draft of your teaching CV, step away from it.
Leave it for a few days before coming back to it, if you can. Spend a bit of time browsing other teaching CVs and looking at job adverts. See what the recruiters and schools are looking for and prioritising. Start checking out online schools and teaching positions.
Then, come back to your teacher CV and read it with fresh eyes. Do a careful edit for spelling, formatting and grammar mistakes. Tweak it and save it as <Surname, Name Resume>
If possible, ask someone you trust to take a look at your teaching CV and give you feedback.
7. Send out your best teacher CV and get hired to teach English online!
Getting started teaching English online can be challenging – like breaking into any new field. But, it is actually relatively easy. Plus, we are here to help you get started. The first step is to do an accredited TEFL course. Once you have your TEFL certificate the next step is to write your teaching CV and get your equipment ready to teach English online.
The steps above will help you to write the best teacher CV for teaching English online. Before you start applying for online teaching positions take the time to write a teacher CV that will get you hired. Many schools only allow you to apply for a job with them once every 6 months or a year, or ever. So, it’s important to get it right. In my experience, it is worth the extra effort.
Guides to teaching English online you may find helpful:
- What do you need to start teaching online now?
- 9 Reasons Why Your ESL Resume Isn’t Getting You Interviews (And what to do about it)
- How to Make Money Online with English Teaching Niches
- How to be successful at teaching English online and make money
As experienced ESL professionals, we are here to help you get started teaching English online. Feel free to contact us if you have questions and need support.