Skip to main content
  • Home
  • /
  • A competitive CV for foreign English teachers

A competitive CV for foreign English teachers


Are ESL Resumes for Teaching English in China the Same as Back Home?

Generally speaking, no.

Get used to the idea that the work scene in China (and most of the world) is VERY DIFFERENT from the one back home.  Employers WILL want to see your photograph.  Will ask you about your family.  Will ask your age.  Will ask if you are married, possibly even ask why not, if you aren’t.

Okay, not always, but it is not unusual in China and other countries, for ESL employers to ask many questions that would be illegal in many Western countries.   In their country they are legal and in their eyes they are legitimate questions.

In spite of what you have been taught to believe there is nothing sinister in their questions.   They just want to know about you and understand you.

They Have Their Reasons

Work visas for English teachers in in some countries will require that your passport be from a country they deem as being English speaking.  Age is sometimes limited for certain kinds of visas due to mandatory retirement ages.  Some schools may (and often do) prefer a female for their preschool and kindergarten classes, some schools will have a male or female opening as the school might have shared accommodation – and on and on.

Get over it

Decide now if these issues really bother you.  If they do, you may have some difficulty landing a job or even surviving in China or any non-Westernized country.

What to put on your Resume/CV

Traditional resumes are fine, but be sure to put the essential information near the top where your potential employer can see it quickly. Don’t make them search for it.

Technically, a CV is a much more academically-oriented form and more detailed, but you’ll find the terms resume and CV used somewhat interchangeably abroad.  Keep them both to two pages or less.

If you are an older person like me, put a cut off point in time to limit how long your resume will be.  Do they really need to know that you worked for McDonalds 35 years ago?  Unless, of course, you are applying to McDonalds to teach English to their Chinese employees!  Then yes they do.

If you are very interested in teaching in a particular specialty – Business English, Medical English, Hospitality English – be sure to include your experience in that area to strengthen your position.


Chinese employers will want a photo attached to your resume.  Passport size in the top left corner.  Not everywhere is the same, but not a big deal if you put it on the wrong corner.  It is usually okay if you print it on the resume.  Make sure you dress and appear professionally in the photo.  Photos in a bar with friends, out hiking or hugging your dog don’t present you professionally.

Age, Marital Status, Sex, Nationality, Dependents

Get used to it now.  If you don’t include this information, and the employer has many applicants, guess where your resume will go.  If you do not include this information, some people will assume you are hiding something!  Get used to the idea that not everyone thinks the way Westerners do or has the same rules or standards.  That people and cultures and countries are different is what makes it all so interesting . . .

It’s okay to be creative

Avoid templates.  They make you blend into the background as if you weren’t there.  Try something creative.  Use color – give it shot.  Try a Google search for “creative resumes”.  There are some great examples out there.

One last point

Get a professional email address.  The author of this website once reviewed a resume for a job applicant with an email address like this:  Do you think that person got the job? 

Source from:

Find us on social media