How to write a great international school CV

Writing an excellent international school CV is a crucial part of the application process. If your CV isn’t up to scratch, you risk not being invited to any interviews.

With many domestic schools moving towards online applications we’re encountering many experienced teachers with extremely out of date CVs or no CV at all.

Alexis ToyeIn this blog post, Alexis Toye, Co-Founder of Teacherhorizons, shares some essential hints and tips to help breathe new life into your CV and get you noticed by international schools.

Download a copy of our CV template and start working on your CV now!

At Teacherhorizons, our team review thousands of CVs each every year and have over 50 years combined recruitment experience. Given that CVs still form the core of an international school job application process, we thought these tips would help you get to that next critical stage – the interview!

If you’ve made it to the interview stage read our hints and tips on how to nail your Skype interview.

We’d estimate that at least half of the CVs Teacherhorizons receive actually harm a teacher’s chances of achieving an interview (but teachers are unaware of this). Given the time constraints teachers have, this is completely understandable. Follow our tips to enhance your international school CV and propel yourself to the top of the shortlist.

Make sure you…

  • Keep it short. Less is more. We’d advise no more than 2 sides for a teacher and 3 sides for a senior leader.
  • State the facts. It’s always tempting to exaggerate, but keep to the facts and promote your achievements. Don’t state you’re a wonderful teacher, team player or outstanding administrator. Let the evidence, achievements, and references in your CV demonstrate how wonderful you are!
International school CV tips
  • Start with your experience, with the most recent at the top. International schools aren’t particularly interested in what job you did when you were 16! Put the most important / recent jobs at the top.
  • Include your personal and school based extra-curricular activities. Given you’ll be moving home as well as jobs, Heads will want to know a bit about you to give them an idea as to whether you’ll fit in and have interesting activities to offer at school. Extra-curricular activities are one of the joys of teaching in the international sector.
  • Publish your CV as a PDF document. There are so many different versions of Word out there, which can really mess up your CV’s formatting. Make sure you save it as a PDF; that way it will look the same on any computer even if they don’t have Word! Learn how to save documents as PDFs.
  • Include a professional yet friendly photo. We’d recommend adding a small professional (eg shirt, jacket and tie for men) yet friendly photo to the top right of your CV. Definitely worth smiling, so not a passport photo! Take a look at our team page for examples of friendly yet professional photos.
  • Triple-check your spelling and grammar. Get someone to proofread it for you. It is very hard to spot your own mistakes. Or, download Grammarly onto Google Chrome and have it instantly check for grammatical, spelling, and punctuation mistakes for you.
  • Personalize your CV. Whilst it’s important not to go over the top, a link to a teaching video demo or photos of the way your classroom looks can really make you stand out. Don’t go too over the top with ‘funky’ designs or fonts…
  • Make full use of your Teacherhorizons profile. Schools use Teacherhorizons as our profiles give them access to all the documents they need. Make sure your confidential references are from senior supervisors (Deputy Head and above) and request them to professional email addresses rather than a Gmail or Yahoo address, for example.

Update your profile page here or learn how to add the details of your references and complete your profile so that you can start the search for your dream job!

Below are some common mistakes to avoid that we see time and time again:

Make sure you do NOT…

  • Start with a long personal International school CV tipsstatement. 3-4 sentences stating what you are looking for is fine, but don’t blow your trumpet about what you’ll offer the school here. Most schools skip this bit.
  • Go over the top with colour and formatting. Some CVs look stunning but are very difficult to read. Excessive colour or design can result in critical information getting lost or schools losing interest in finding it.

Once your CV is looking great, upload it to your Teacherhorizons profile and ask your adviser for feedback. If it doesn’t upload, you may need to compress it.

Written by Alexis Toye, Director of Operation and Finance at Teacherhorizons. Former IB school teacher and IB Coordinator at Oporto British School and Westminster Academy.