Making your resume count
How to get the best from your ajarn on-line resume
Please note that we are in the process of overhauling the ajarn.com resume system so this article applies to the existing format only.
I've just spent some time looking at many of the resumes that we have on-line in the ajarn.com resume database. I wanted to get an idea of things through the employers' eyes. With that in mind, could I give out a bit of advice as to where I think some teachers and jobseekers might be going wrong and how to put yourself one step ahead of the game?
Are you a native speaker?
I mean are you truly a native speaker? When I look at some of the resumes, they are littered with basic grammatical errors that no native speaker would realistically make? Certainly not a native English speaker who's looking for a job teaching English. Also be honest about what your native language is or you'll end up wasting people's time - including your own.
Clear out your inbox
If schools want to contact you about a vacant position and the e-mail bounces back, teacher hirers won't make a note of it and contact you on another day. They'll move on to the next person and you'll be instantly forgotten. Make sure to tidy out your inbox and leave yourself room for new e-mails. Employers are guilty of not clearing out their inbox as well, but I've told them till I'm blue in the face and it hasn't made a great deal of difference I'm afraid.
Send a cover letter!
One thing that drives many employers mad is when an applicant simply clicks the 'send resume' button on their ajarn resume and the e-mail arrives without any kind of cover letter.
Schools and employers always prefer a teacher who has gone to the trouble of writing a cover letter over an applicant that has just clicked the 'send resume' button and hoped for the best.
No one's asking you to write a long cover letter when you send your resume from the ajarn database, but a few paragraphs telling the employer where you saw their job ad and why you would be suitable for the position will do your job prospects no harm at all.
The final section of the on-line resume is titled 'employee requirements'. The 'employee requirements' section is the section where you tell employers what you are looking for in a job.
What is the minimum salary you require?
Are you willing to work weekends or not?
Do you want health insurance? (of course you do)
What is the minimum length of contract you're looking for?
Would you like the school to help you with accommodation if at all possible?
It's no good an employer looking at your resume and then calling you up with an offer of a 40K job when you know yourself you won't work for less than fifty.
First Appearances are everything
As anyone who has spent time in Thailand will tell you - appearance is everything. And every resume click begins with a good photograph. No one says you need movie-star looks but there are certain rules that are plain common sense. Here is a photograph from the resume database that I think is nigh on perfection!
Mitchell's using a nice clear head and shoulders shot for his resume photo. He's not dressed up to the nines, just a smart clean open-necked shirt. But look at that smile! Is there a Director of Studies or Thai recruitment person who wouldn't want to click on Mitchell's resume and investigate further?
Thais love their smart, smiley farang teachers - and that's the way it is. Top work Mitch!
So on the topic of photographs, what are the most common errors?
1) Make sure it's a photo of you - and just you! A photo of you standing between your brother and your granddad at a wedding reception only makes me wonder whose resume I'm about to look at?
2) You know the photo of you sitting on Pattaya Beach in skimpy shorts next to a table full of empty beer bottles? Save it for your Facebook page.
3) Don't post a photo so small that it looks like you're viewing it down the wrong end of a telescope. Postage stamp size photos mean one thing to an employer - you're no good with computers!
4) Photos shouldn't be provocative. Save the pouting and the hand behind head shot for an online dating site.
5) We do get photos posted like the one below. What do you think it says about a jobseeker?
(Picture not taken from the ajarn.com resume database)
Empty personal statement and employee requirements fields
It's surprising how many people leave both the personal statement section completely blank. Be proud of who you are and don't be afraid to make a grand entrance.
Hobbies / interests
You would be surprised how interesting you are if you really give it some thought. So give it some thought. We all enjoy reading and going to the movies. But what might make an employer sit up and take notice?
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I'm giving a thumbs down to activities, hobbies and interests. I had a vice director of studies totally confused by it and me on the ropes.
Why isn't teaching here?? What is this??
Mind you, I'm a pretty active and interesting person compared to much of washes up here.
Argh...you can't be that dim, you are director of the best school in Bangkok...
Save the space for job descriptions.
By Lou Mak, Bangkok (19th October 2015)
This is all great stuff and I have a reasonable resume going by this but, all I get is,'You don't have a degree then?' Stuffed!!
Enough qualifications to do the TESOL course, not enough to get the job I want! Refusing to give up, I keep plugging away, amending the resume, almost on a daily basis, because saying I had a degree. would be more of a lie to me than saying, I give up, and that will not happen!
By William Pegg, Pathum Thani,12120, Thailand (24th May 2011)
Is it possible that you could post a few examples of what a good resume looks like? I know there are many websites that do this; however, "resumes for teachers in Thailand" is a fairly specific group.
Additionally, is it possible that this article could be linked to the "my resume" section of ajarn.com? I ask this because when I got to the "other information" section, I had no idea how to tackle those categories and it took me a little while to think to search for an article about it, since one was not connected.
I think resume writing is a skill many of us rarely develop. Perhaps this is because they people who are naturally good at resume writing already have a job and do not realize how hard it is for others to write one. For this reason it seems like many schools (at least in the United States, where I am from) will teach six years of essay writing, but only about 48 hours of resume writing. Thus, examples of a good resume become an invaluable source for people who are new to the resume writing process.
By Jen, Bangkok, Thailand. (14th March 2011)