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Apr 30th, 2022 by Philip Brennan

11 skills you need on your CV to impress international schools in China

Scoring a lucrative teaching job with one of China’s prominent international schools is undoubtedly the main aim of all foreign teachers heading to the Middle Kingdom. And why wouldn’t it be? International Schools Jobs in China are the most coveted given the super-high salaries, excellent working conditions and impressive array of perks.

No matter how much experience you have had in international school teaching, you still need to impress recruiters. You need to deliver a winning CV that will shine above all others.

Such highly coveted teaching jobs, after all, are also fiercely competitive.

If you’re new to this teaching gig and assume the usual resumes rules apply, think again. Teaching resumes are another bag of prawn chips altogether, especially in China.

Does your resume matter when applying for international school jobs in China?

You bet. A fantastic resume matters so much; we often offer to revise teachers’ CVs before they even apply for any teaching job in China. When dealing with a host of qualified teachers vying for a few coveted positions, the perfect resume is the one thing that will likely make all the difference.

A killer CV still needs to be modelled to each specific job application. That means you tweak it ever so much, depending on the job you’re applying for.

In our experience, the best candidates put a lot of effort into their resumes. We can immediately tell who these candidates are, as can school recruiters. No matter how desperate an international school may be to employ a new teacher, they will pass on sloppy resumes. Recruiters working for esteemed international schools in China are not interested in half-assed attempts at scoring a job. Never forget that!

Needless to say, even the most flawless resume can only do so much (namely, get you a seat at that job interview table). Once there, it will be up to your sparkling personality and endearing demeanour to WOW the recruiters.

Want to teach at an international school in China? These are the 11 skills you need to put on your resume.

1.    The right qualifications to teach

Being qualified is the first step to teaching in a Chinese international school. If you are already teaching in the country, it figures you have these minimum requirements covered:

·         A Bachelor Degree

·         A TEFL certificate

·         At least 100hr practical teaching experience (or 120hr if you wish to teach in Beijing or Shanghai)

·         Be aged between 18 and 55

If you are not yet living and teaching in China, you should first understand how to Get a Visa for China. Getting the correct working visa is a must, which means the requirements for this visa are the requirements for teaching in the country.

Why is this so important for your CV?

Because you can have the most kick-ass teaching CV and experience globally, a recruiter will bin it if they instantly see that you can’t meet the China visa requirements.

Simple as that!

2.    Previous relevant work experience in roles loaded with responsibility

You probably had a stint delivering pizzas in London or walking dogs in Buenos Aires, but those aren’t the experiences that will bag you an international school job in China. Your work experiences don’t have to be teaching related (if you’re only starting out), but they must show a high level of responsibility. It’s the responsibility aspect of your previous job that you can easily relate to teaching!

Worked and cared for children? Include it. In charge of people in one way or another? Include it. Taught anything to anyone before? Include it as long as it’s not Fido’s sit/stay/lay down command.

Obviously, include all teaching experiences, primarily if you’ve taught in an international school.

3.    A passion for teaching

Showcasing your passion for teaching is paramount if you wish to work in a prominent international school. These institutes are among the most prestigious in China, and they take their task of ‘broadening young minds’ very seriously. They need to know you do too. 

Find ways to show you are enthusiastic and committed to learning all about the school and being the best teacher you can be.

4.    Any experience travelling or living abroad

International school recruiters in China know the cultural differences between east and west. After all, they work in an environment loaded with intercultural relations. More than anything else, what they want is a teacher who is familiar with this experience.

They want a teacher who can easily slip into a community of 101 nationalities.

All international schools in China aim to turn their young students into productive global citizens, so it helps if their teachers are global citizens of their own accord.

You needn’t have lived in China before to stand out from the applicant crowd. But if you’ve lived outside your home country for a while, that’s something you must state.

Show off those soft intercultural skills when applying for international school jobs in China, and you WILL get noticed.

5.    Flexibility & adaptability

International schools can vary quite a bit worldwide, even among the same brand. The teachers who fare best and can carve an impressive career are those who can quickly adapt to different scenes.

Suppose you can show your ability or experience teaching in various countries, with different curriculums and wildly different groups of students (like kids and adults, for example). In that case, it will help you stand out from the pack.

    6. Subject/homeroom teaching experiences

Subject specialization and homeroom teaching are experiences that will set you apart from the pack, especially in international primary and middle schools. Although there are a few ESL/English teaching roles in Chinese international schools,  these usually go to bilingual local teachers.

    7. Any other foreign languages you speak

English-speaking countries have an unfortunate reputation for being among the least linguistically diverse in the world. In Europe, for example, British nationals are less likely to speak a second language when compared to all other nationalities in the region. It’s sad but true.

Want to stand out from the native English-speaking teaching crowd? You can if you speak a second and even third language. It doesn’t matter what that language may be: if you’re bilingual or a polyglot, your CV will shine through in China. Being multilingual is particularly useful in international schools because many students will also speak English as a second (and even third) language!

    8. A desire to get involved in the school’s community

International schools are quite distinct from all other teaching institutions. In China, they are bona fide ‘families’ that embrace students, parents, and teachers to create a close-knit community.

Recruiters want to employ sociable teachers who want to get involved in everything school-related. Show a willingness to get involved in extra-curricular activities, and you’ll show a commitment to the school and students that goes way beyond the classroom. 

    9. An ability to keep it simple

If you can’t keep your teaching resume to one page, you’re doing something wrong. You’re also doing something wrong if your resume looks like the first half of this blog. Leave the paragraphs for blogging and use bulleted points for your resume!

Using simple language is a must when applying for a teaching job in China, given your recruiter may not be fluent in English. You’ll also want to keep things neat by listing your education, experience and skills.

Even if the recruiter speaks English fluently, they want to employ a teacher who will be able to communicate with their colleagues, students and parents.

     10. Ambition and drive in the teaching industry

Maybe you want to teach in China for a few years to save some cash and travel lots? That’s not something a school recruiter wants to hear.

Instead, they want to know their enthusiastic teaching candidates have a solid drive to reach high places. This is something they understand and share. Professional ambition is still alive and strong in 21st century China so best tap into that and show them you have plenty.


       11. Meticulous organizational skills

International school jobs in China can be brutal: the workload, demands, and sheer variety of tasks are extensive. If you wish to work in one, you must show the recruiter you’re up to the task.

 And you can only be up to the task if you’re a master planner and organizer.

Once you have those essential skills weaved into your CV, it’ll be time to review what’s missing and what’s hitting it out of the ballpark.

Here are a few more CV insider tips we’ve found invaluable over the years:

Include a killer personal statement in your CV

Qualifications are only a minor part of a teacher’s journey. Once you have them, you barely need to revisit them. Yet the most critical long-lasting prerequisites are passion, commitment, and a strong desire to impart knowledge and ethics to young minds. A powerful personal statement is the easiest way to convey these essential attributes.

Responsibility and job titles are great to include…but achievements get noticed

Gone are the days when you could impress a recruiter with a previous fancy-schmancy job title. Nowadays, recruiters are more interested in what you achieved in your roles.

Relevance is key

You may have achieved a great deal in all manner of positions and boast a varied cache of experiences. But if you can’t find a way to relate them all to teaching in some ways (like the travelling example above), don’t waste your precious resume space on them. Flooding your CV with non-teaching related info is not beneficial.

Less is more (most of the time)

We’d forgive you for thinking your CV must be ten pages long, given all the skills and tips you ought to include. Yet to help you home in on what’s needed, you should remember that your resume is just there to get you an interview. The interview is what will get you the job. That means you shouldn’t dilute your stellar skills and attributes with the 27 extra-curricular activities you had back in high school or your hobbies and interests. The winning formula? Share just enough to entice a call-back but leave some mystery that’ll have recruiters itching to know more.

A PGCE (or equivalent) is vital to teaching in an excellent Chinese international school

You can probably get a job at an average international school in China without a PGCE (or equivalent teaching certification). Yet these aren’t the kind of schools you’ll be raving home about. You need to have this vital certification listed on your resume for a quality teaching position. If you don’t yet have one, it’s not too late! Several UK universities offer online courses, the most respected being Derby, Sunderland and Nottingham. If you’re in or from the USA, you can get your certification from Mooreland University. Given the teacher shortage in China, some schools will accept your job application if you apply in the same year you complete your course. If you’re currently undertaking a course and will graduate this year, you can certainly apply for a job right now.

Don’t switch schools too often (no one wants to hire the teaching ping-pong ball)

The only way to show you are responsible and reliable is by showing your loyalty to your employer and any commitment you make. No matter how good a teacher you (think you) are, international school recruiters will steer clear of you if they see you’ve changed schools three times in the last two years. The last thing employers and school coordinators want is a problem teacher, and if there’s anything on your resume that may hint at that, they will swiftly bypass your application.

To that end…

Choose your Chinese international school job wisely

For the reason mentioned above, and about a dozen more, you need to be sure you’re accepting the right teaching job in China. The last thing anybody wants is to be stuck in a job they intensely dislike because they fear damaging their resume if they quit their teaching job early. In China, moreover, you need to secure a release letter when you quit your teaching job, which is a colossal ordeal of its own accord. Read more about the importance of a release letter.

When preparing your resume to apply for an international school job in China, job skills are essential. Yet you’d be foolish to neglect all those soft skills needed in these unique teaching positions. At the end of the day, school recruiters would rather employ someone with the right personality and drive (and train them) than a perfectly qualified teacher with absolutely no soft skills.

It’s surely not rocket science, but if you’re qualified to teach that, then by all means, don’t forget to mention it 😊

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