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11 skills on your CV to impress international schools in China

Scoring a lucrative teaching job with one of China’s major international schools is the dream for almost all foreign teachers heading to the Middle Kingdom. And why wouldn’t it be? International School Jobs

in China offer super-high salaries, excellent working conditions and an impressive array of perks. This is the kind of job that allows you to make huge strides forward professionally and personally.

Some teachers might think that if they have previous teaching experience in international schools, getting the same-level job in China will be easy. Not so. No matter how much previous experience you have, you still need to impress recruiters. The prize is high and competition is fierce. You need to deliver a winning CV that will shine above all others.

If you’re new to this teaching gig, you might assume that the usual resumes rules apply, but you’d be sadly mistaken. International school teaching resumes are another bag of prawn chips, especially in China. Cultural and professional differences means that some skills here, like adaptability, are more important than in other countries.

On this page, we’ll guide you through the very best skills to highlight when interviewing for international school jobs in China. Plus, everything else you need to help you score the best teaching jobs in the country.


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

The best 11 skills you need to highlight on your resume

  1. The right qualifications to teach
  2. Previous relevant work experience in roles loaded with responsibility
  3. A passion for teaching
  4. Any experience travelling or living abroad
  5. Flexibility & adaptability
  6. Subject / Homeroom Teaching Experience
  7. Any other foreign languages you speak
  8. A desire to get involved in the school’s community
  9. An ability to keep it simple
  10. Ambition and drive in the teaching industry
  11. Meticulous organizational skills


What else can helps your resume shine?

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

You bet it does. A fantastic resume matters so much that 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.

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

Tailoring your CV for each job application is time-consuming but it is an absolutely invaluable effort. Do a deep-dive into the school’s website, noting their language and keywords they like to use, so you can mirror them on your CV. Also note details like extra-curricular activities – if any of these are your bonafide hobbies, then make sure to include them. It’s also wise to study the job advert carefully, so you can highlight the exact skill requirements they list.

In our experience, the best candidates put a lot of effort into their resumes. We can immediately tell who these candidates are, and school recruiters can too. 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, however, it will be up to your sparkling personality and endearing demeanour to WOW the recruiters.

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:

  • 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, yet 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 may have 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. Been a tour guide responsible for groups of people for weeks at a time? Write that in. Taught anything to anyone before? As long as it’s not Fido’s sit/stay/lay down command, include it in your resume.

Obviously, include all teaching experiences, especially 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 in 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 are considerable. 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. And in working and living in this kind of unique ‘cultural ecosystem’. In essence, 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 definitely should 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, that experience 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. These communities can be ‘high-maintenance’ in a sense because they require your involvement in a variety of ways.

That’s the reason 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 easily 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. Mostly, because working abroad to save money and travel isn’t part of their culture. In China, people build careers and work hard to get ahead and move up the ladder in their profession.

That means Chinese recruiters 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 if you want to nab that job.

       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.


What else can helps your resume shine?

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

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

Include a superb personal statement in your CV

Qualifications are only a springboard 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 and how you overcame obstacles.

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. For a quality teaching position, however, you’ll want to have this vital certification listed on your resume.

If you don’t yet have one, it’s not too late! Several UK universities offer online courses, the most respected being

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David O Connor

David O Connor

David is China by Teaching’s chief contributor. When not offering sage advice about teaching in China, David is a headmaster of a Bilingual kindergarten in Beijing. David is a lover of craft beers, book clubs and super long road trips.

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