Tips For Preparing Your ESL Resume, Cover Letter, Photos, Intro Video & More
Now that you have officially made your decision – and have informed Mom and Dad – that you are going teach English in Korea, it’s now time to get yourself prepared with your teaching in Korea application.
In this post, we will go over the following topics:
- How To Write An ESL Resume Schools Will Love
- Is A Cover Letter Required?
- Why You Need A Photo In Your Teaching In Korea Application
- How A Well-Planned Introduction Video Will Get You Hired
How To Write An ESL Resume Schools Will Love
Many applicants overlook the opportunity to create a resume that is solely and directly related to ESL. As this is what schools not only want, but also expect, altering or creating a brand new ESL resume should be at the top of your priority list when you apply to teach in Korea.
So take some time and put some effort into your resume as it will give you a leg up on your competition for your desired ESL position in Korea.
What to Include in Your ESL Resume
At the top of your resume you should first show that you are qualified for the position by listing your educational credentials. Regardless of your school or area of study, this needs to be placed at the very top of your ESL resume.
Did you study any English or teaching-related courses? Highlight these.
Have an outstanding GPA? Put that in there where it can be seen clearly. On the flip side, if your GPA is not that impressive, don’t list it.
Next comes your experience with children.
List ANY and ALL experience with children, including:
- Any teaching-related experience you may have, no matter how limited. If you’ve done it, add it.
- Any work with children, not matter their age. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Big Brother, Big Sister, or anything of the like.
- Any babysitting/nanny work you may have done in your past. This may sound silly – and is not what you would list on a regular resume – but it does show that you have taken care of children, which will be part of your job in Korea.
After this comes volunteer work.
- Any and all volunteer work (with children or without). Simply put, this shows that you are a nice person. ‘Bad people’ usually do not do not spend their time volunteering :).
And finally, list your previous, unrelated-to-teaching employment history.
You may think that your experience as a computer engineer at a large company or your stint in a law firm in downtown Manhattan will make you a shoo-in for the position. It will not.
While there is no doubt that the person reviewing your resume will see that you have a brain in your head, you need to remember that you are applying for a job as an English teacher.
So yes, certainly include this in your resume, but do not highlight it at the top.
List it and any other jobs that you have had, namely those that you held for longer than 6-12 months. Schools want to see you are someone who can commit to a position as they will potentially be inviting you to their school for a year or longer.
What NOT to Include in Your ESL Resume
Any position held for less than 6 months.
Simply put, you are looking at getting hired for a 12 month period. If you have a history of jumping around from job to job, this will make the school doubt that you will last a year in Korea.
That you were born in another non English-speaking country.
Even if you have spent the majority of your life in an English-speaking country, this isn’t something that we recommend including on your resume.
Some may find this insulting, and for good reason. However, this has nothing to do with racism or xenophobia. The ONLY thing it has to do with is your ability to speak English perfectly. Which leads us to the next thing to not include in your ESL resume:
That you speak another language, even Korean.
Korean schools are primarily focused on your ability to speak, read and write English. Simply put, if you speak another language, they may doubt that you are as qualified as another teacher whose only language is English.
Even if Korean is my second language?
Yep! You would think that this would give you an advantage, right? Think again.
The reason schools in Korea provide such a high salary along with other great benefits, is because they want to immerse students in an English-only classroom as this is the best way to learn.
If you speak Korean, the students will default to their Korean whenever they don’t understand something in English, defeating the purpose of the English-only setting.
At Travel and Teach , we all have experience teaching in Korea and know the importance of speaking at least some Korean while living in Korea. However, this is not something you want to highlight in your ESL resume.
PRO TIP: Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes in your ESL resume. While you may think that these will not be noticed because your future employer’s first language is not English, think again. Directors of schools strive to provide the best English education for their students so your English abilities – or lack thereof – will be noticed.
Is A Cover Letter Required?
While a cover letter is not ‘officially’ required in your teaching in Korea application to Travel & Teach, it is something that looks very good to Korean schools.
The simple answer is that it shows you have made the extra effort that most other applicants are not making. This will make you stand out just a little more than the others and hopefully land you that teaching job.
But What Do I Include In My Cover Letter?
Your ESL cover letter is a chance to showcase two things:
1.Your Personality: This is a great opportunity to talk about yourself (we all like to!), so go ahead and brag!
Here you get to tell your potential new employer about all of the good things you have to offer as a person and as a potential teacher at their school.
You can talk about your past life experiences, achievements and future goals you have set out for yourself. Show the school that you are a superstar and someone who they definitely want to join their team!
2. Your Writing Skills: Something a lot of teachers who apply to teach English in Korea overlook is the fact that schools are hiring them because of their English abilities – not ONLY English speaking abilities – but also their ability to write in English.
Your ESL cover letter is your chance to prove that you can not only speak English perfectly (this is what the Korean school looks for in the interview, whether it be a phone interview or a video interview ), but to also write English perfectly. That’s correct – perfectly!
This isn’t too too much to expect from a university graduate, is it? :)
So take some time and put together a proper cover letter for your teaching in Korea application. It shouldn’t take you much more than an hour or two at most, but if it gets you that job, it will be worth the time.
For a paragraph by paragraph breakdown of cover letters that you can use for your teaching in Korea application, check out reed.co and their list of free templates.
Why You Need A Photo In Your Teaching In Korea Application
A lot of teachers applying for jobs in Korea are thrown off by the fact that all schools require the teacher to submit a photo with the teaching in Korea application.
Teachers wonder whether they are being judged by their looks and if that will affect their chances at getting a teaching job in Korea.
Others see this as an illegal practice, as is the case in most western countries where applicants for positions cannot be judged by looks, age or race.
So why is this done in Korea?
The main reason is because unlike in western countries where interviews are conducted in person, schools in Korea do not have that luxury, so the photo is really your first impression to the school.
As all teaching contracts in Korea are for one year in length, schools want to know as much about their new English teacher as possible. This includes not only what is on the teacher’s resume but also what the teacher will be like to work with for the year.
With this in mind, the best way to really show who you are to the school, is by creating an introduction video of yourself (see below).
What Kind of Photos Should I NOT Include in My Teaching in Korea Application?
As a recruiting agency, we see a lot of absolutely terrible photos that teachers send in with their applications.
Here are a few examples of some of the worst we’ve seen (you can decide why they are bad):
- A male teacher with his shirt off, in a canoe, holding a beer.
- A female teacher at a bar, drink in hand, with a man kissing her neck.
- A male teacher with a cigarette in his mouth, sunglasses on, giving the middle finger
- A dog. Yep – just someone’s dog.
Those are some of the worst we have seen but there are so many more examples as to what makes a bad photo for your application. To see what types of photos you should NOT submit, check out this article on application photos to teach in Korea.
Photo Tips For Your Teaching in Korea Application
- Smile! Remember that this is your first impression to the school, so you want to come off as being a nice, friendly person. You are applying for a teaching job where you will be teaching children, after all!
- Make sure your face is clearly visible. This one may seem obvious but is often overlooked by teachers. A nice, close up shot is best.
- Dress appropriately! Again you are applying for a teaching position and a teaching position in a conservative country like Korea! Dress accordingly!
- Get a photo with children. If you want the school to see that you will be a good teacher to their students, what better way than to show them that you love kids!
- Take a photo of yourself in a graduation gown. As you also want to come off as an intelligent applicant, show the school that you are a university graduate….although they already know that because it is a requirement to teach in Korea…but it still looks good on an application.
How A Well-Planned Introduction Video Will Get You Hired
If you are applying for a job that you are really interested in getting, why not give it your best shot?
As a recruiting agency, we receive many applications from teachers. For the majority of the time, we ask teachers to either adjust their resume, send better photos or ask them to improve their documents as they simply will not even be looked at by our schools in Korea.
With this in mind, by creating a well planned and executed introduction video of yourself, you are already outdoing most of your competition. So don’t be lazy and apply yourself. When you land that job in Korea, you will thank yourself for making the extra effort.
What to Talk About in Your Teacher Introduction Video
Here we will go over some things that you can discuss in your video. These are suggestions, so you can certainly feel free to expand on these ideas. Just make sure not to do the things in the ‘what NOT to talk about’ list below!
- Introduce yourself: Talk about where you are from, where you grew up and where you went to university. This is a great starting point.
- Talk about your family: Do you have any younger brothers, sisters or cousins? If so, talk about your relationship with them (as long as it’s a good one!) and the things you do together. This shows that you have experience with children…which takes us to our next point..
- Talk about your experience with children: Even if you do not have much or any teaching experience, you want to show the school that you can relate to kids and that you can understand them. This is very, very important as schools do not want to hire someone who hasn’t been around children. Even if you have only done babysitting in the past, that is something you can mention.
- Volunteer work you have done: Any and all volunteer work looks good. So talk about it.
- Your desire to explore the Korean culture: Be careful here. We do not mean that you should tell the school you want to live in Korea so you can drink soju, date a Korean girl or find out where your K-Pop stars live! What you want to express is your general openness to exploring and embracing the Korean culture while you are there.
PRO TIP: Keep in mind that the person watching the video may or may not speak English as their first language, so make sure to speak slowly, clearly and stay away from using too many expressions that may not be understood. Schools are looking for someone who they will understand and also who the Korean students will understand.
What NOT to Talk About in Your Teacher Introduction Video
There are certainly some things to avoid mentioning in your interview with a Korean school. Some may be obvious, but others have more to do with not coming off as insulting from a Korean-cultural perspective. Let’s take a look at what not to mention in your video:
- Your desire to see the world: Schools are not oblivious to the fact that the number one reason for most English teachers to go to Korea is to travel and see the world. While this may be a very exciting aspect to teaching in South Korea, schools do not want to hear about this as they will interpret this as your only reason for wanting to come to Korea – what they want to hear is that you want to TEACH!
- Your desire to make money: Duh! Whether you are applying to teach English in Korea or for a job at your local Starbucks, no employer wants to hear that your main goal for the job is to make money. They know that you want to make money as you would not be applying for a job otherwise.
- Your love for K-Pop or Korean dramas. Yes, we are all aware of how great K-Pop and Korean dramas are. However, this will not make you any more attractive as an applicant, any more than it would if you told the school you really loved popcorn or shopping. Stay on point and talk about children or teaching.
- Your desire to find a Korean girlfriend or boyfriend. Not only does this not have ANYTHING to do with teaching, it can also come off as rude in general. Korea is a conservative culture so bringing up casual dating as part you desire to teach in Korea is really not something you want to bring up.
So there you have it – all of the tips and advice you will need to get started on your teaching in Korea application!
When you are ready, go ahead and apply to teach in Korea by completing our application form.