What you Need to Teach English in Hong Kong: Part 3

Applying for a Job the Teacher Way!

So you’ve found yourself a job that you like and you have a good idea what to expect in Hong Kong when you land. You have an inkling of what will be in your contract and how much you should be getting paid for your time.
Below then, let’s have a look at cover letters and C.V’s and what you should be putting on yours. There is a lot of information out there already in regards to what you should put on a C.V/cover letter so I don’t want to tread an already worn path. Instead, let’s have a look at some things that will give you an edge when applying for a job.

(If you didn’t catch the previous post, click here)

This will be mostly applicable to Kindergarten as it’s the bulk of my experience but these tips will also fit Primary and Secondary Schools.

Cover letter

This is the place to show yourself off, even if you don’t have much experience. It would be a good idea to use the information below on top of standard cover letter basics. Let’s see what we can include:

Leadership skills– This may seem obvious because you will be managing a class of students but if you have no experience, it’s always good to reference a time in your life when leadership was required or you held a particular role which had you leading a team or taking charge of a group project.

Hobbies that could benefit your future employer– This is a really great way to offer extra value to a school/learning centre which they may not have even thought of yet. For example, perhaps you are an avid reader and you think students would find value in your hobby so you decide to offer an extra reading class after school on certain days of the week. You have experience coaching in a sport which you could offer as an extracurricular class. Even if you come from a Multimedia background like I do, there are still things you could offer. Online worksheets and YouTube videos spring to mind. Generally, because the education field is so broad, there is always a way to offer value to it even if what you have been doing before seems completely unrelated.

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Source

C.V

Because you may have limited to no work experience, I think it would be best to make a skills based C.V. (For more information on how to do that, click here.)
Interestingly, this example is a good start off point for someone with limited experience. It covers skills that are important in the teaching field so I’m going to use this as a base to show you how I would write my C.V and I’ll explain along the way my thinking behind what I have written. (There are a million and one ways to write a C.V. I’ve just chosen which one I think works best.)

communication

Being a produce assistant, communication was key in helping customers make a more informed decision by meeting them on their level to provide them with guidance in what product they should buy.

Showing that you can communicate well is a very transferable and desirable job skill. I have also shown here that I tailor each exchange I have with a customer by saying that I “meet them on their level” which shows a basic use case of differentiation in action. Any experienced employer in the education sector would be able to spot this a mile away and instantly understand that you show some knowledge of teaching theory. Just an added bonus.

Planning/Organising

As safety officer of my local jujitsu club, I was tasked with organising and planning monthly meetings to brief students about current safety protocols.

Any good example of planning/organising is a great way to make an employer notice you. Again, if you can link it to teaching practice or theory in any way, the better.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Teamwork

As part of my group project at university, I used my solid communication and listening skills to make sure the group was working in unison. This involved not only understanding my value in the group but everyone else’s and considering how to work best with them.

Think about ways teamwork would work in a school. You will be working with teachers from others age levels. How do you sync with them to make sure your teaching and learning match up so there aren’t any gaps in learning? If teachers are falling behind with their checklists, what would you do to help get them back on track? If you have to design a library system together, how are you going to work with each other to come up with a suitable solution? Try and think of an example from your past experience that shows a clear relationship to how teamwork would work in a school setting.

Training

As a school prefect, I was involved in training and monitoring younger students to make sure they were ready and fulfilled their job duties as a prefect.

Training is linked to teaching in so many ways. You are always training in one aspect or perhaps all of your practice…constantly. Training could also be linked to any professional development you might be undertaking. The example above shows that you understand that if you train someone, you will need a means to assess them to see if they are doing the job correctly or not.

Computers

Very familiar with Microsoft office. I have experience using the Adobe suite for design and logo work as well as designing websites.

You would be surprised how far computer skills have got me in the teaching profession. I worked for a learning centre and helped them implement Dropbox so they could share files between their two centres. I also helped them design and maintain a website. However uniquely qualified you are in the computer space, it might be worth mentioning because it will more than likely be useful and schools/centres always lack good I.T support. Really!

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

What Others are Saying

Willie Lau made a rather nice list of things you might want to add to your C.V. Thanks for sharing Willie! Here’s his list below.

Top of cv include:
1. Nationality

2. Hk Visa/Resident Status

3. SCRC (if you have it)

(the SCRC stands for Sexual Conviction Record Check. you can find out more here)

4. Degree and Certificates 

5. Picture

6. Short intro about yourself and what you looking for. If you new to Hong Kong,  a suggestion is to include why you came here 

This one is important because often we are flooded with C.V’s and Don’t have time to look back through a long cover letter

For rest of your C.V:
7. don’t exceed 4 pages. To save paper I print my cv “2 pages per sheet” so anything over 4 usually gets cut. (This may only apply to smaller companies like mine)

8. Send in PDF format. Doc files open differently on computers. It Annoys me when I have to edit the cv to make it legible/printable 

9. Always include your name/email /mobile in the footer of your C.V. 

Usually, we will print a whole bunch of C.V’s out and then collect at the printer. Pages can be lost/ print errors occur, etc. 

So even if part of your C.V is lost, with a footer on each page we can still contact you / find the rest of the C.V again. 

Hope that helps!

Angelina Komar touches on the importance of making sure your English is up to scratch. Thanks for your contribution, Angelina.

“Another thing I’d like to add here is that when sending in a job application letter and CV, it’s so important that spelling, grammar and layout is checked. As a former staff manager, I actually can’t count the number of times a CV ended up in the “don’t bother” pile because it was littered with grammar and/or spelling mistakes (not the odd typo, I hasten to add…I can just about forgive those!) or if the layout was messy with text all over the place. Teachers are meant to be good models of the English language; the application should reflect that.”
Andrea Wannop adds some sobering insights into the difficulties teacher might have securing a job.
I’m an employer of English teachers and work with school Principals in local kindergartens. I can tell you as a fact that the vast majority of clients…ie parents needing teachers or Principals…
keeping parents “happy” have a very low but clear requirement…..C.V’s should prioritise a photo, your nationality, your degree qualification, your work experience for teaching…all other really doesn’t matter….your legal status in hk…i.e right to work…..and a statement that you are native English speaker …it is this criteria which matters and employers/clients are seeking teachers from English speaking countries who are well presented, “youthful” with at least some teaching experience. Non native English speakers, non degree holders and non caucasian. ..will face obstacles in employment in this field. Sad but true.

Thank you to all of the above contributors! Please do share this piece far and wide if it has helped you. Tune in again for the next and final piece in this series!

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