TESOL course in Hanoi – prep for job interviews
While this short blog was written for the benefit of folks who are completing the Australian Government accredited TESOL course in Hanoi at AVSE-TESOL, the concepts equally apply to others who are in the hunt for a brilliant teaching job in Vietnam.
From my own experience as someone who employs English as a second language (ESL) teachers, a single job vacancy can attract 50+ Curriculum Vitaes (also known as a ‘CV’ or ‘Résumé’). Anecdotally, large English language schools in Hanoi receive 100+ random CVs a day from folks looking to secure a teaching job. Numbers like those tell us that: 1. your CV needs to stand out in the crowd; and 2. you need a quality CV that’s ‘ready to go’ before the end of your TESOL course in Hanoi. What exactly is a CV? In layman’s terms, a CV is a written summary of a person’s background, qualifications, and employment history.
The significance of a quality CV that’s responsive to local expectations cannot be overemphasised. Arguably, your CV is the single most important document that you’ll submit to a potential employer. Given the number of CVs and related documents that a single employer processes daily (note my comments above), your CV needs to be ‘noticed’ by the decision-maker in less than two seconds. It must include relevant information in a compartmentalised format and an engaging (professional) photo. Your CV should be no more than one page and easy to visually scan. I’d suggest that you put some time aside during your TESOL course in Hanoi to develop a decent CV that’s formatted in a manner that local employers expect. Check out the sample CV below.
Let’s look at the sample CV in more detail, starting from the left-hand side of the document.
Photo: Your photo must show that you’re a professional person with an engaging disposition. It needs to strike a balance between formal and informal. If you’re not photogenic, here are some tips: choose the background carefully, don’t look at the camera, find your good side, place the camera slightly above eye level, avoid a double chin, make sure your eyes are wide open – and get the lighting right. You’ll find plenty more photo tips on the internet. You might even find someone in your TESOL course in Hanoi who’s pretty handy with a camera.
Profile: This section of the CV provides you with an opportunity to sell yourself to the employer in two short paragraphs, totalling no more than 120 words. Most employers are smart people. They can see through ‘fluff’. Be honest. Choose words that show you’re an engaging person who’s qualified for the job. The employer needs to know that you’re attuned to the importance of lesson planning, inclusivity, delivering a highly interactive, fun classroom environment and reflective thought.
Contact: Include a local phone number on your CV. Suppose a Vietnamese employer has a choice between calling a candidate with a local phone number or a candidate with an international number. In that case, even if it diverts, they’ll almost certainly go with the local number. Make sure your email address presents you in a professional manner. If your email address is something akin to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or similar, it would be a good idea to get a new one for your CV.
Your name: Some folks have long names that take up a lot of space. If you’re in this camp, I’d suggest that you shorten your name so the text sits nicely on the CV. Let’s imagine your name is Trixibelle Maryanne Esplanardo. It’s lovely, but it’s wordy. How about going with something like Trixibelle Esplanardo? The letters will fit comfortably in the available space.
Education: In my opinion, the certification from your TESOL course in Hanoi should be listed first. Why? It’s essentially your ‘licence’ to teach. Your highest degree should come next – Doctorate, Masters or Bachelors. If you don’t hold a university or college degree, shine a light on other qualifications that you hold, training programmes that you’ve successfully completed or both. Note the examples below.
Certificate IV in Carpentry (4-year apprenticeship)
Dandenong College of TAFE
02/02/02 – 31/12/05
Warrant Officer Training
Australian Defence Force
01/01/00 – 31/12/01
Teaching Experience: This heading presents some challenges for people who are completely new to teaching English, at least until you scratch below the surface.
Imagine you’ve worked as a Cashier at Walmart in San Antonio, Texas, for the past five years. Almost certainly, your Cashier’s job would involve training others. When a new Cashier starts at Walmart, they need to be taught what to do – correct? For example, if you’ve trained newcomers at Walmart, use it to your advantage in your teaching CV. Schools that are seeking to employ a teacher in Hanoi or elsewhere in Vietnam want to know about your experience teaching people things. If necessary, scratch below the surface, and you will find that you have more teaching experience than you think. Keep in mind that you can also quite legitimately refer to your teaching experience while completing your TESOL course in Hanoi.
Here’s what you might put under the Teaching Experience heading on your CV if you: 1. were the Cashier at Walmart that I mentioned earlier, or 2. choose to include your teaching experience during the TESOL course:
Trainer: Cash Management & Customer Service
Walmart Pty Ltd
San Antonio, United States
05/05/15 – 04/05/20
English Language Teacher
03/03/22 – 02/04/22
Referees: Ideally, you should include the name, job title, place of employment and contact details of two people who’d be prepared to attest to your ability to work as an English teacher. Your referees should not be family members. You may wish to ask the Trainer at your TESOL course in Hanoi if he (or she) is prepared to be a referee. Importantly, make sure that you have permission from the folks you list on your CV as a referee. Including referees on CV should look something like this:
Mr David Jones
Manager: Human Resources
Walmart Pty Ltd
San Antonio, United States
Ms Wendy Jarvis
Senior TEFL Trainer
TEFL in Hanoi Training School
Your transition to a great teaching job in Hanoi or elsewhere in Vietnam, will much smoother – and quicker – if you have a quality CV ready to hand out to employers immediately after your TESOL course finishes. Your CV needs to be really sharp! It should be no more than one page. It should include a decent photo, two short paragraphs about who you are and what you do – and your name, contact details, education, work history and referees. Give this important task your full attention and there’s every reason to believe that you’ll be living that ‘teach abroad’ dream quicker than you might think.
About the writer: Peter Goudge has been delivering TESOL / TEFL training programmes in Southeast Asia for more than 15 years. He is the Managing Director (and founder) of AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Online. Check out the AVSE website: www.avse.edu.vn