Resume package for teaching ESL in Korea

[Note: This post is part of a series on the paperwork you’ll need to teach English in South Korea.]

If you’re looking to move to South Korea to teach ESL, the first thing recruiters will see (or should see) from you is your resume package. This includes…

  • Your actual resume
  • Your cover letter (really an email)
  • Your pictures

Let’s talk about what you need for each, one at a time…

Your actual resume

Include your education. You’re required to have a Bachelor’s degree, so that’s the first thing they’re looking for. You don’t have to major in English or Education or having a teaching certificate, so that’s not a problem if you don’t have one. Include your university’s name too and perhaps some of the extracurricular activities you were involved in (like concert band, not barroom stage dives).

For work experience, don’t bother with a bunch of fluff. Only include experience that’s related to teaching. This doesn’t just mean jobs, though. You might not have any teaching experience but instead could include…

  • Presentations you’ve given, including the topic if it’s at all relevant, the age of your audience, and the number of people in your audience.
  • Sports couching you’ve done, even if it’s just for the kids in your neighborhood.
  • Kids you’ve baby-sat or tutored. Again, include any relevant ages.
  • Volunteer experience at the local gym, park, YMCA, Scouts, church, and so on.

The schools want to see that you’re good with kids (if that’s who you’re going to teach), good with people overall, and that you appreciate education in general.

For example, I included my two Bachelor’s degrees, my majors, the year I graduated, my tutoring experience (for my sister and in college), my children’s ministry experience (at my church), and some of the presentations I’ve given. Lastly, they prefer American accents, so I was born and raised here too.

The only other thing you need on the page is contact info (phone and email, you can give your address later), your name, and a classy layout. Make sure the thing is easy to scan and highlights what you want people to read.

Convert it to a PDF file, and you’re good to go.

Cover letter

I didn’t go through a recruiter. I contacted schools directly. (I’ll write more about finding a school later.) All that to say, this will change slightly depending on who you’re sending it to.

Basically, though, my cover letter was simple:

Dear Mr. Lee, [always go with Mr. or Ms.]

My name is Marshall Jones Jr. [who you are]

A friend pointed me to your ad for an English teacher, blah, blah, blah. [why you’re emailing]

Specifically, I’m interested in positions available in Seoul, starting in the beginning of 2011. [more details about what you’re actually applying for and when you’re available]

I graduated from university in 2009 and blah, blah, blah… [personal info about your qualifications and why you’re interested in teaching in Korea]

I’ve also attached a copy of my resume and a photo for your consideration. [explain the attachments]

Thank you, and I’m Looking forward to hearing from you, [closing, everyone loves to be thanked]

-Marshall Jones Jr. [your full name]

Phone: 502.509.5074 [your contact info to show you’re serious]

Don’t forget to include any relevant keywords in the email subject (some ads/schools will tell you specifically to include a certain phrase or whatever). And don’t forget the attachments you promised.


Unlike in the USA, Koreans judge you based on how you look. Actually, I should say, they’re just honest about judging you based on how you look. Seriously, we go on appearance in America at least as much (I’d argue more) than they do in Korea. It’s just that in Korea they don’t pretend it’s mean.

So take a picture of yourself. Or have a friend take one. A head shot is fine.

Wear something decent. It doesn’t have to be professional, but you should still look sharp. Koreans are more conservative than we are, so a spaghetti string top or badly fitting T-shirt probably isn’t your best bet. Also, smile, but not a forced, fake one. Just look friendly, like a teacher. What kind of teacher would you want?

I also compressed my picture a bit so the file size was smaller. In general, though, they have amazing Internet in South Korea, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it much.

And that’s it. Get this bundle together, and you’ve got the first step down.