6 simple reasons why your TEFL resume sucks

Another lunchtime chat with the boss, another great idea for a blog post. Although, technically speaking, she now only has to deal with formulaic online job applications, my boss has years of experience of weeding out rubbish CVs, the reasons she suggested why yours might be ending up in the garbage are sometimes startlingly simple. Now, it’s one thing to garble meaningless rubbish in everyday life, but when the wrong words appear on your resume it sucks and it will cost you a chance at landing a job. The words I’m referring to are all too common, wherein lies the problem. They litter the average resume with ‘buzzword badness’. Managers who do the hiring can and do identify such words in seconds, leaving your resume work worthless. To help you land that job interview, which, let’s face it, should be one foot in the door, here’s how to turn six crappy resume words into selling points that set you on the way to landing the job.

Crap word #1: ‘Experienced’

So, are you experienced? You are? That’s great. What on Earth does ‘experienced mean? For the love of God, say what your experience entails. Saying you’re experienced at something and laying out the facts of that experience are two very different approaches. Guess which one you should be doing…

BAD: ‘Experience in teaching ESP.’

GOOD: ‘Developed, taught and received feedback on a sixteen-week ESP syllabus for Chinese mechanical engineers which was adopted by a chain of schools in Shanghai.’

Managers want to know exactly what experience, skills, and qualifications you have to offer. Tell them concisely without just saying, ‘I am experienced.’

Crap word #2: ‘Responsible for’

Buddhist monks have set fire to themselves in protest over less. Of course you’re responsible for something… but how many, how long ago, who, what or why? Rather than waste the hiring manager’s time reading a vague list of responsibilities, be specific and use quantitative figures to back up your cited skills and accomplishments.

Managers want the cold, hard, numerical facts. Write percentages, monetary savings, and figures of students brought into the school to best explain your accomplishments. Be specific so as to get your point across quickly and prove you have what it takes to get hired.

BAD: ‘Responsible for IT in classes.’

GOOD: ‘Developed a series of PowerPoint presentations for common grammar structures that have been used throughout every branch of the school I worked for.’

If your resume avoids vague ‘responsibilities’ and sticks to facts detailing figures, number of people managed, budget innovations, student bums on seats, you’ll get the job interview.

Crap word #3: ‘Excellent written communication skills’

If you have excellent communication skills, you don’t need to say so in this most important of written communications. If you need to write this, it means that in fact you don’t have excellent written communication skills. This phrase is very, very bad and must die. It’s on most resumes. Is it on yours? Go on, check now and remove immediately.

BAD: ‘I have excellent written communication skills.’

GOOD: ‘Developed a jargon-free online course guideline that reduced related email queries from prospective students and enabled intake to increase for several courses.’

If you’ve got specific writing skills, say what it is that you write and how you communicate. Are you writing ‘can do statements’, or course materials? Whatever you do, be sure to give the details.

Crap word #4: ‘Team Player’

Awful; just plain ghastly. What job do you think this is? Are you joining a bloody football team? If you don’t want to be joining the unemployed ‘team’, get some hard facts behind your job pitch.

BAD: ‘Team player who works well in both large and small groups.’

GOOD: ‘Worked with students in large groups and on a one-to-one basis, software developers, course book writers, and prospective customers to increase the quality of language services offered.’

Do yourself a favour and explicitly say what teams you play for and qualify the teams’ achievements.

Crap word #5: ‘Detail Oriented’

What the bloody hell does ‘detail oriented’ mean? I know English is the fastest growing language in the history of civilization, but this is one phrase too far. Give the specifics to the details with which you are oriented. Please, I implore you, orient your reader to the details, there’s a good chap.

BAD: ‘Detail oriented language instruction professional.’

GOOD: ‘Proofread the school-developed course books and online materials currently used by 25 language schools throughout Mexico.’

If you have specific details, share them with the person doing the hiring. Give the facts, the numbers, the time lines, the monetary figure or the quantitative data that sells your skills.

Crap word #6: ‘Successful’

What’s wrong with you? Will you also include a section labeled ‘abject failures’? Hopefully you’re only listing successes on your resume. So, if everything is a success, then why write the s-word? Show your success by giving solid, real-life examples of what you’ve done to be successful and let your skills, qualifications, and achievements speak for you.

BAD: ‘Successfully taught the English course.’

GOOD: ‘Not only maintained student intake for the English for mule farmers course, but also enabled a 42 percent increase in intake for further mule farming courses due to word of mouth recommendations.’

When it comes to success, don’t be shy. Brag, sing your own praises, sell your skills and say why you’re wonderful.

So, there you go, six of the crappest words or phrases that might be on your resume. By focusing on the facts, detailing the details, and qualifying your qualifications, you may just land yourself the job interview.

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3 pings

  1. darren elliott says:

    *ahem* (goes to check cv)

  2. Davy boy says:

    Double ahem and goes to update CV immediately!

  3. sunspots1 says:

    I would definitely submit this article to a greater site for publishing and maybe alittle $$.

    Excellent and funny as my resume sure did have some of those words….before I paid to have someone else write it. lol

  4. david says:

    I just hope this advice is of use to you and helps you land the interview.

  5. Chris says:

    Judging from the countless TEFL resumes I’ve seen, I’m confidant in saying that the vast majority of so-called TEFL teachers are dimwitted. It’s no surprise that somebody needs to hold their hand when writing their resumes. Furthermore, having had to hire a few myself, I suggest that you just hire whoever is geographically closest to your location because in the end, you almost never know what you’re going to get. TEFL teachers are certainly a strange brew.

  6. Andrea B. says:

    I have to partly disagree with the advice of ‘bragging’ about yourself. There’s a line between knowing how to properly phrase your document/how to sell yourself and being a car salesman. Also, depending on what country you are applying for work, this aggressive tactic is considered offensive as locals wouldn’t use such boastful language.

  7. Donkey says:

    Crap Word # 7: DEVELOPED

    Developed a crap word list for my blog.

  8. Sophia says:

    Chris, perhaps those dimwitted TEFL teachers you criticize can teach you the difference between “confidant” and “confident.” Great article though…

  9. OM says:

    Useful information. Thanks.

    Just one thing, being a business professional doesn’t mean you have to be rude. Much of this article comes across as extremely condescending.

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