How to write a resume with no experience

Trying to get a job without having experience can be very hard. How can university students or English native speakers with advanced communications skills, who want to change careers and teach English Second Language do find jobs? How does one go about writing a resume, especially for a teaching job despite lacking experience? Writing a resume according to professional standards is the first step to success.

Definition of a resume

What is a definition of a resume is a brief statement of a person’s career path, knowledge, skills, abilities, and achievements in regard to a specific job vacancy that’s being applied for. It is an inventory of your skills and abilities that can bridge the gap from university to a career, or from one job to the next; the resume is the core marketing instrument of yourself as a personal brand.

Here is an example of an ESL Teacher Resume:

Here is an ESL teacher resume PDF:

esl teacher resume pdf

Here is a link to Canva Teacher Resume Templates:

FREE Teacher Resume Template

Resume for an ESL teacher

Here are the different sections you need in your resume:

  • Contact Information
  • Profile Summary
  • Objective
  • Qualifications
  • Experience
  • Skills

Look at online examples of the standard format for teacher resumes. Respect the time of recruiters dealing with hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications. Being concise is the first sign of professionalism.

For a start, accurately give full details of your contact information up-front and the specific job being applied for.

Give your personal details and background in the profile summary section, such as family, school education, special skills, and achievements, but do so within two to three sentences.

Next, create effective resume objectives. It simply means to say why you think you are a suitable candidate for the vacancy. Find out what the standard keywords are that you should use for the particular country. The American format differs from other countries. Remember to always mention the job title you are applying for and set achievable goals.

Write details about your formal degree, diplomas, and other relevant certifications you have completed in the qualification summary section. Mention institution names, starting and completion dates, current studies, or licenses obtained.

So, what does someone with no experience write in the section about relevant experience? Provide details about your learner-teacher internship. Also, write your previous employment history (if any), as well as your current position/ situation. This is where private tutoring or volunteer work can help someone who has no official teaching experience.

In the other employment experience section, mention previous project details (if any) to help highlight work ethic, successes, creativity, and so on. For those who are changing careers, just list previous job titles, organizations, and duration and make sure there are no breaks in your work history.

The skills summary section is where you mention your strongest, powerful, and specific skills to add more credibility to your resume. This is where newly qualified teachers could have the advantage of being more skilled in new technology.

Every ESL teacher starts with 0% experience so to supplement your ‘experience’ section of your ESL teacher resume, you should add relevant experience, mention skills that you have that would be beneficial to have as an ESL teacher and insert traits that a responsible teacher would have.

Relevant teaching experience could be babysitting, tutoring a middle school student or doing work as a teacher assistant during university.

Good teaching skills include time management, strong communication and team player. So try to showcase some of your skills that apply to teaching. Don’t lie however but present a positive image of yourself.

Design your resume with proper formatting as per industry standards. The formatting is an initial impression which must be inviting, attractive and professional, as it invites the reader to the text. Make sure to use a proper font style, set margins, line spacing, headings, use of tables and bullets, etc. There are lots of examples that can be found online. There are also templates that make this part of the exercise easy. Here is a site with many examples.

As important as the resume itself is the application letter, also known as a cover letter, which in today’s world is usually the email with your resume attached to it. These few sentences can swing the recruiter or administrator’s response from indifferent to look at your resume with interest and prompt an interview.

As in the case of the resume, take the trouble to draft a template cover letter/e-mail introduction and from there tailor-make every different application. Never send a generic cover letter/ e-mail introduction.

Do research about the school or company that the application is going to. Send it to the correct person, be knowledgeable about the organization. It is the first step to making a good impression.

The cover letter is not a repeat of the resume; it should be dynamic and rarely more than three lines, but try to reveal at least one important piece of information that is not apparent in the resume. This is to create that bit of mystery or at least let your application stand out from those drab, lifeless ones. The cover letter or e-mail introduction is of core importance. If your cover letter does not make it, chances are that you won’t make the interview either.

Examples of cover letters can easily be found on the internet.

Final checklist for an ESL resume

Before sending the resume, check for the following:

  • Run a spelling, grammar and punctuation check; then proofread your draft on paper – it’s amazing how mistakes jump from the pages once you print them. Another old sub-editor’s trick is to let creative writing rest a bit, then read it again the next day with fresh eyes before sending it. If possible, first get feedback from an experienced person.
  • Check all required headings and sections to avoid errors.
  • Check the design and formatting and that all sections were correctly completed.
  • Have you included the strongest relevant skills?

Your resume is what should be on your LinkedIn profile too. Send a personalized invitation to the principal or recruiter to join your network a week or so before the interview. They probably won’t join, but they will take note of your proactive professionalism.

Know how to prepare for an interview

Most organizations have moved to Zoom, Skype, or other online interview formats. It’s thus not only ESL and online teachers who need to know what the minimum technical requirements and setup need to be.

An increasing number of big corporations, including online ESL companies with thousands of teachers, have moved away from accepting resumes to online questionnaires requiring basic biodata from applicants. They always require a good photograph, and often also a short one- or two-minute video introduction.

Some Education Departments and other large employers use Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software to handle the large number of resumes. The initial screening is thus being done by AI scanners that detect keywords within set parameters such as maximum age, country of origin, residing country, and minimum qualifications.

Recruiters will then set up interviews with applicants who fit within their minimum requirements. Such an online demo class and interview usually last less than thirty minutes. In the case of large online ESL companies, these interviews and demo classes are usually conducted by experienced online teachers acting as the company’s evaluators. They will automatically run an internet speed test to see if the applicant’s set-up is within the minimum acceptable range. Some companies are more lenient than others and would typically accept 20 megabits per second download and 10 Mbps upload.

Applicants need to educate themselves about the requirements for doing a proper internet interview. It includes good lighting, camera height, backdrop, proper headphones, and some relevant props.    

Check out the following videos: Why most online interviews fail; Real ELS Interview and Real ESL Demo Lesson.

See your resume as a bridge to the future.

Difference between a resume, a CV and biodata?

Like a magic mirror, both a resume and a CV will say only the best things about you, but what is the difference between the two? And what’s biodata? The difference between a resume, a CV, and biodata depends mostly on what part of the world you live in and, secondly, the kind of job that is being applied for.

résumé (French, “to sum up’ or a summary) is a concise document to apply for a job. The term resume is used in North America but is gaining international usage under the strong influence of the USA in business and the international ESL job market. A resume’s purpose is to provide recruiters with a brief overview of a candidate’s ability to perform a specific job and make a selection for a more in-depth interview.

In Europe and most British Commonwealth countries such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, India, South Africa, and New Zealand, the term CV for ‘Curriculum Vitae’ (Latin for “course of life”) is used, but the format is generally that of the typical resume – a brief, to the point summary of a person’s teaching skills in our case. 

The traditional CV is an in-depth document that describes a person’s life, career course, and achievements in full detail and applies more to professional and management level persons seeking new career prospects. It provides corporate recruiters and personnel hiring managers with comprehensive insight into the suitability of a candidate. In North America, the term ‘CV’ is traditionally used only to apply for academic positions, research fellowships, grants, etc. Though the job applications of other professionals in the USA are called resumes, their format is more similar to a CV.

In Southeast Asia, the word ‘biodata’ is sometimes used for what is similar to a resume. The golden rule, however, is to adopt your master document to be either a CV, résumé, or ‘biodata’ depending on the school, e-teaching company and country the application is being sent to.   


Be positive about writing a resume even if you have no teaching experience, a smart CV can bridge the no-experience gap. It can turn an apparent weakness into a strength; compensate for the lack of teaching experience with youthful exuberance and energy; your communication skills linked with media and computer savvy, plus the ability to quickly master new skills, new programs, and teaching platforms. Connect the dots between your raw talent and life experience to the specific requirements of the job for the recruiter.

Many school principals and ESL companies prefer young, enthusiastic teachers above those who have lost their joie de vivre, the zest for life. The saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is true and education managers know it, which is why they sometimes prefer new teachers to those with a long resume. Do not be intimidated by seeing messages on the many Facebook groups of well-qualified people who do not get jobs; rather look on those who do get ESL jobs even when they lack a degree. ESL companies know that personality, talent, and attitude often outweigh a string of qualifications and a long CV.

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