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Steps in the process for finding work in a non-English area.

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Joined: 20 Mar 2003
Posts: 333
Location: PRC

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 11:17 pm    Post subject: Steps in the process for finding work in a non-English area. Reply with quote

Your resume.
Bear in mind that the person who is going to read your resume may not be a native speaker or have highly developed English skills. Remember too, that your employer may have to translate your resume into another language.

General tips:

As far as possible, try not to use ‘jargon’ or words that can’t be easily found in a basic dictionary.
Try to keep your writing to words of less than 3 syllables, but don’t consider your audience to be uneducated children.
A sentence should never have more than 23 words, and between 5 and 15 is most desirable.
Do not write your life story. More detail may be asked for in the interview process.
Do not write long discourses on every minute detail of every job you’ve had.
Do not use exotic software programs. Microsoft Word 98 and 2000 are common business applications. Save your resume as a Word file only.
Scans should be saved as jpeg only.
Use easy to read fonts such as Times New Roman, Tahoma, Trebuchet MS, or Garamond.
Use 10 to 12 point font sizes and only use bold letters on headings or subheadings.
Do not underline or use Italics. They sometimes photocopy poorly and can make reading more difficult for a non-native.

Specific tips:

A lot of time and irritation (on both sides) can be saved by thinking through the process and having your entire associated documents ready before you apply. At some point you are going to be asked for references, a recent and clear photograph (passport type is best), date of availability if selected, and any certificates and or degrees you may have. Find a reliable scanner and put all of these things onto a disk, making sure you have at least 1 backup copy. Days, weeks and sometimes good jobs can be lost simply because the candidate wasn’t prepared.

Your referees should not be family members unless you have worked with them in a professional capacity. References from instructors at TESOL-type courses are also not highly valued by employers. Best if you can have at least 3 relatively recent referees to put forward and be sure to include their email address and not just telephone numbers. Some employers are not highly confident in speaking directly to foreigners, calls can be expensive and often time differences can be difficult to manage, and emails allow information to be more completely understood. Make sure your referees know you are thinking about working overseas. Do not use unreliable referees. If they cannot or are not prepared to respond quickly to potential employers they can affect your chances of getting the job you want. Have at least 2 standby referees.


A lot of time (which is money to someone) is wasted by employers and employees who are ‘just looking’, immature, dreamers, or those who see teaching in another country as being something that is required only to earn the local currency needed to party/travel/act like an idiot. These are the people who tend to get the lesser-paid, more stressful jobs. Be professional if you want a good job.

Example resume.

(Scan a recent passport style photo of yourself and import it onto your resume page. Top left hand corner is best. You can then ‘wrap’ your introductory details to the left of the photo.)

Name: Your full name as shown on your passport
Date of Birth:
Country of Birth: (and country of residence if different from country of birth)
Passport: (country of issue and validity date)
Sex: Male, female, undecided, or ‘see me after I’ve been to Thailand’)
Status: Married or single (optional)
Telephone: (a reliably answered number here)
Email: [email protected] (make sure this is correct)

Career Summary:

2001 – current: (name of employer and position held)
2000 – 2001:
1998 – 2000:

Training/Education Summary:

1976 – 2000: Bachelor of Education degree, Dodgy College, Anywhere
2001: TESOL 120-hour course at XYZ Spain
2002: other relevant courses (not lifestyle courses)

Specific teaching/training experience:

1998 – 1998: 1 year at ABC Kindergarten. Childcare Attendant
1999 – 2001: Volunteer English tutor at TGIF College


Tom Howe, Director. Wee, Cheatham & Howe Lawyers. [email protected]
Bill ABC, Owner. ABC Kindergarten. [email protected]
Miss Marple, Director. TGIF College. [email protected]


I am available for employment from 1st September 0000 to 30th August 0001.

(Final Notes)

Your resume should never be more than 2 pages in length. A short but precise resume is better than one padded with rubbish.

Preparing an advertisement that works.

On any day, have a look at the assorted rubbish that passes for job applications on the Job Wanted Forum. Some people tell their life story, some are incredibly rude and demanding, others use a strange type of shorthand as if they’re advertising in a newspaper and paying by the letter. Most are total garbage that will either not get a response or not get the response the advertiser is looking for.

Be specific in your ‘headline’ and you can avoid a lot of unwanted mail from countries and schools you aren’t interested in! Like this:

China. Shanghai or Shenzhen only. Universities only. Ready to arrive 1st September 0001.

Now this isn’t going to stop you being bombarded by China rubbish, but it should lessen the number of offers you get from Antarctica or Zimbabwe. It saves someone reading the hassle of wading through hundreds of life stories only to find the final words are ‘Not China’. That type of posting is massive ignorance.

Make sure you write in the correct email address. Some posters forget to put any contact address in at all! At least their mailbox won’t be blown up with rubbish.

State very clearly what you’re looking for, your experience and what you can contribute, and use whole but short sentences. Make your preferences clear but polite, don’t waffle on about wanting to change the world, don’t make terse demands, and basically approach it like you would if you were seeking employment as a teacher in your own country. Deal breakers can often be too much focus on ‘I want a gym, a beach, a 3 storey house with a pool, 10 servants, low hours and high pay.’ Don’t we all, but that comes in the negotiating stage. Make it clear that you will only reply to email offers and not websites if that’s your thing, but again recognize that sometimes you are referred to websites because the recruiter may have worries about their level of English.

Good manners.

Employment dynamics mean that at least 2 people – you and the employer – are forming a basic relationship. Professional friendliness can go a long way. No matter what your background or experience is there is no need to visit nastiness on a new potential employer just because your last one was a goose. As you sift the offers that come your way you may become tired, bored, frustrated or angry. Don’t take it out on the next emailer who contacts you. Keep it nice.

Sifting through offers/making a short list.

The more specific your desires are, the more you’re going to sift. If you receive offers from countries you are never in your wildest dreams going to visit, you can safely delete them without further action. For target countries, don’t be too quick to dismiss any reputable-sounding school just because it is outside the area you specified. Send a short and polite email thanking them and letting them know that perhaps you will contact them again if you can’t find what you want in the area you’re searching. Never tread on the toes today that are connected to the legs that support the arse you may have to kiss tomorrow. It is a fact of life when teaching overseas that you may later decide to live in another area. Keep your options open.

Make a short general list and begin your application. As new information becomes available keep sifting until you narrow your search down.

Research. (Currency exchange rate/flights/location).

You will need to do this. Don’t leave it until the last minute. Find out what injections you need and when you need them. Think about any medicines you need that may not be available overseas or in a language you can read. Many travel websites have currency exchange calculators. Call the embassy of the country you want to travel to and see if there are any special requirements, costs, paperwork or other issues you need to be aware of. Check the World Health Organization website. Check weather websites and any English-language newspapers you can find in your target country. Ask the embassy about laws and rules that apply to foreigners. Do all of this and anything else you think is useful before you accept a job.

On websites and chat rooms that are specific to the location you want, check through as many old threads as you can. Many of your questions can be answered this way and it may save you from getting ‘flamed’ because you have asked questions that have been dealt with many times before.

Negotiating and finalizing your contract.

Most employers want as much as they can get for as little as they can pay. Most employees want as much as they can get for as little as they can do. Human nature, worldwide. Do not sign a contract you don’t understand. Better to let the job go than to take it and suffer remorse later. Many contracts and offers are negotiable, but be prepared to give as well as get.

Be clear about the things that are not negotiable for you, the things that may be negotiable to a degree, and the things that you care little about but may be able to bargain with to get more of the things you really want. Also be clear that most schools worldwide are actually businesses that either report their expenses or must watch their expenses.

Documentation and pre-departure readiness.

Make sure you have all documentation required before you pay for your plane ticket. You should have checked everything as thoroughly as you can so that there are fewer chances of things ‘going bump in the night’. Do not try and force impossibilities into impossible timeframes.

Being clear on your own motivations.

Bear in mind that the things you want for yourself may not be the most important things in the mind of your employer. Finding a relationship, going to the beach, hitting the gym, traveling the country, art, learning the language, may not be high on the list of things a potential employer is looking for. Some truly don’t care as long as you have a pulse and can fog a mirror, some may be repulsed by your demands. There is no magic wand that can be waved to find the right place and it may take you a few attempts to really understand what you want and what is possible.
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