The perfect CV and cover letter for an EFL manager
Summary: Tips for writing a CV for a Director of Studies position
As TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is a career where having 3 years experience means you can get a job anywhere in the world, and probably a senior teacher job at that, if you are anything like me you will start to get lazy with your CV once you realise that the number of years or qualifications written at the top of it can get you the job on their own. That is probably a sign that you should be looking for schools that are more demanding- or if you have run out of those, for management jobs. There are specific qualifications in ELT management, but for those of us that don't have them there are plenty of ways of making our CVs look as good as if not better than those of the few people who do. Here are some ideas for things you can write in your CV (and things you can try to make true about you so that they can go in your CV), all given with the caveat that what schools are looking for in a DoS (Director of Studies) probably varies even more than what they are looking for in a teacher.
Before you start writing
If you are thinking of applying for a management position, you have probably already had a career that could fill up a CV that is several pages long. As in any other job, though, it is generally best to stick to 1 or 2 sides of A4 if you can, to stop the important information being missed by a busy school principal trying to find a new manager before the summer rush. This means selecting exactly the right information from the many possible thing you could put, which of course means researching the job you are applying for very well- for example finding out how much the role will be an academic one or a commercial one. Please bear that in mind when moving from the brainstorming stage the tips below are meant to help you with to the editing that will get you down to the finished item.
Education and qualifications
Here is a list in no particular order of qualifications that could be an asset in applying for an EFL management job, and therefore ones you might want to think about taking, or stressing on your CV if you already have them:
- A qualification in EFL management, e.g. an MA in ELT management, a Diploma in ELT management, or an MA with an ELT management component.
- Any other qualifications in business and management, e.g. an MBA. There are some circumstances, though, in which the person above you will be making the business decisions and will not want to argue with someone whose CV makes it look like they will think they know better, so don't emphaisis this for a purely academic role.
- A higher qualification in EFL, such as a Diploma (e.g. DELTA), state school qualification like the PGCE, or MA. This is particularly important if a major part of your role is teacher training or you have staff on your books with MAs who are doing things that seem odd in the classroom that they seek to justify with big words off their MAs that you wouldn't understand unless you had one too.
- The same qualifications as your teachers. Although you want to be one step ahead of most of your staff in terms of knowledge and certification, having gone through exactly the same route (e.g. CELTA, then DELTA, then MA), means that you will know where they are coming from and be able to explain things to them in terms they will easily understand.
- Qualifications in the language of the country you are in or where a large number of your students come from, preferably a business certificate like BULATS in Spanish.
- First aid and other health and safety qualifications
In classic job advertisement style, most DoS jobs will state that they need someone who has been doing exactly the same thing for several years even when their real minimum standards are much lower. If you do have the right kind of experience, though, you will want to make yourself seem exactly what they are looking for by mentioning:
- The number of teachers you supervised
- The number of other members of staff you interacted with
- What kinds of classes your teachers were teaching, e.g. exam classes, one to one business classes
- What kinds of students your teachers taught, e.g. mother and baby classes, top executives, engineering students
- The experience and qualifications of your teachers, e.g. having helped very inexperienced teachers
- Your teacher training and development roles, including training of other senior staff
- Your teacher recruitment roles
- Your marketing, customer service, budgeting and other business roles
Particular successes you might want to big yourself up with include:
1. Increases in student numbers
2. Low student turnover
3. High number of recommendations from students to their friends
4. High take up and pass rates in EFL exams like FCE or IELTS
5. Low staff turnover
6. Persuading teachers to take higher teaching qualifications and helping them with it
7. Teachers getting involved in other outside teacher development such as giving workshops in national conferences or publishing book reviews in TEFL magazines
8. Your own outside workshops and publications
9. Increasing the quality of teacher in your school, e.g. by raising the minimum qualifications for jobs in your school
10. Increased sales in study abroad courses, self-study materials etc.
11. Simplification of admin
12. Introduction of new admin systems to solve problems or make running of school easier and more efficient
13. Opening of other branches due to success of your school or with your help
14. Systems you introduced which were taken on in other schools
15. Your teachers becoming examiners or your school becoming a designated exam centre
16. Positive reviews from teachers on English teaching forums
17. High number of teachers recommended by previous teachers applying for jobs with you
18. An increase in the number of applicants for each teaching job you advertise
19. Improving the technology and other facilities in the school
20. Teachers or senior staff you supervised moving onto high status TEFL jobs such as the British Council or a national university
21. Improved end of term feedback from teachers and students and/ or decrease in number of complaints, preferably whilst improving the quality of the feedback methods you use
22. Moving to larger or more luxurious premises
23. Improved financial results such as turnover or profit
24. High prestige business partners, such as being sent students by a well known travel agent chain or sending your study abroad students to better known schools in London
25. Successful inspections from official bodies like the local government or the British Council, along with any particularly positive comments they made about improvements etc.
26. Contracts to teach students from big companies or government agencies
27. Moving into other areas of business, e.g. starting the first classes for pre-school children or the first in company classes
28. Improving teacher support and internal teacher training
If you have not had an EFL management job at the level of the one you are applying for but have worked as a teacher or senior teacher in a school where the things above have improved, these points could still be well worth a mention- along with any involvement you had in them or what ideas seeing them implemented gave you for how to be a good EFL manager. Other things you might have got involved in as a teacher or senior teacher which could be particularly relevant for your step up into higher management include:
- Attending and giving internal and external workshops etc.
- Being observed and observing people's lessons, even if only peer observations or watching videos of other people's lessons as part of teacher workshops
- Any feedback you gave that helped improve administration in the school, e.g. suggestions on how to improve the needs analysis forms or the class record sheets
- Any feedback you gave that helped improve the teaching, e.g. suggestions for new textbooks, moving students between levels, or changes to the school syllabus
- Any extra responsibilities you volunteered for or were given, e.g. making supplementary files for a course you were teaching.
- Any filling in for a more senior or other member of staff, e.g. being on the phones occasionally when they popped out
- Other interactions you have had with people you are likely to spend more time with if you get the management job, e.g. recommending courses to students, giving feedback to parents on their kids' progress, or making decisions with school receptionists on which class to place students in after you level check them.
You might also have some relevant experience from management positions outside EFL and other non-TEFL jobs, e.g.
- Dealing with money, e.g. being responsible for accounts, or even just petty cash
- Dealing with paperwork and the authorities, e.g. setting up your own business
- Dealing with customers, e.g. handling complaints
- Sales and marketing
- Recruitment, e.g. interviewing people
- Supervising people
- Any positions of responsibility
- HR and team building
Other things you might like to mention on your CV, in your cover letter or in the interview include:
- Reading Business books, newspapers or magazines, and/or EFL management books
- Reading other EFL trade newspapers (e.g. the EL Gazette) and magazines
- General knowledge of the state of the TEFL sector worldwide
- Personal connections and being well known in the TEFL world
- Membership and involvement in TEFL professional associations, e.g. being a committee member of the local chapter of TESOL or IATEFL.
- Membership and involvement in business associations, e.g. the local chamber of commerce or the chamber of commerce of companies connected to your home country
- Your predictions for the future of the TEFL industry and your ideas on how to respond to it in the short and medium term
- Managers you have met or read about and have been inspired by
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