The 5 Years of Teaching "Gap" on the Resume

So I’m back in the Mil Town (Milwaukee) looking for some work and have to fill up the 5 year gap of when I wasn’t there. So it goes…

Company: Various English Language Centers
Location: Taiwan
Position: English Teacher
2002-2007

I was a little worried that it’d look funny, or get me passed up or something when looking for jobs, but I had my first interview today and everything went really well. This wasn’t what some would call “real job” kind of place ([Best Buy]), but a job none the less.

The whole “I’ve been in another country doing something CRAZY,” thing is a nice ice breaker. Then when it got more “business” he asked me all the usual questions someone would ask about a previous employer (Was there ever a time you had a conflict with…? What is something you’ve done at work that you’re proud of? etc.) and teaching worked as good as any job would.

I’m also going to pursue a few “real job” sort of jobs and then I’ll find out how the 5 years in Asia thing holds up. I even found one job looking for a person that speaks Chinese and Spanish (I hablo un little de Spanish :slight_smile: ) for doing trade/sourcing kind of work. Jobs like that will be the true test…

Anyhoo, thought this topic might be of interest to someone or lead to something interesting.

Oh, and the people are like WAY fatter here.

Contrary to all the flack non-English teacher foreigners like to give us here about not being able to find work at home due to teaching English in Taiwan for too long, all my friends who have gone home have never had a problem with that so-called “gap” on their resume. Most, if not all, have said it has only been looked upon as something positive and beneficial and has no way hindered their chances of finding “real” work.

When did you leave Taiwan? Are you back in the states for good?

This is a really interesting post, I’ll be keeping an eye out for how you get on. I’m going to be doing the same thing this time next year and I’m wondering how my (almost) five years here will hinder me. Good luck!

As so many people think seem to think Taiwan means Thailand and that you’ve been sitting under a palm tree drinking beer for 5 years, you could always try saying Republic of China instead of Taiwan.

You could always BS a bit. If someone in, say a computer store, ever tried to speak bad English to you and you did anything to help them with their English (even just correcting one word) you could always make that look like you were a corporate trainer for the company.

Good luck.

Yeah, I had gotten that same “flacky” kind of feeling about the whole thing. It was never a real cause for concern for a guy like myself, but I never really knew what the atmosphere would be like.

Almost 3 weeks ago, but I just got back to Milwaukee last week.

Short answer: No.

Silly answer: After living in Taiwan for 5 years, I don’t think I can even be back in the states for good. :smiley:

Longer answer: I actually have this “plan” which will have me here more “permanently” over the next couple years and then perhaps traveling around a bit after (doing things AND stuff!)

Thank you. Good luck to you too!

It’s only a gap if you explain it that way.

I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.

Saying that five years of teaching English in Taiwan is a “gap” on the resume implies that one had a different career going prior to doing the teaching thing, and is now trying to pick it back up. That can be a real problem for people in certain professions, and in those cases five years teaching ESL certainly qualifies as a gap, no matter how it is explained.

My wife is an engineer, and just before she took a job out here in Alabama, we both seriously considered chucking it all and moving to the Czech Republic to teach English. We researched the country, the government, the people, the schools. We looked into various TEFL certificate programs to prepare us. We talked about it for weeks, but she ultimately decided it was too great of a risk to her career. Engineers are expected to stay on the cutting edge of technology, and that’s not easy to do when you’re traipsing around Prague teaching English for four or five years.

I’m sure there’s some way to put a spin on it to make it seem like it was more than just teaching…

-Micromanaged effective communication among upcoming professionals (got adult students to talk).

-Improved self-efficacy of clients through linguistically-sound techniques (in other words, you taught kids how to study for a spelling test so they could get better grades).

-Increased lexical output through engaging, kinesthetic presentations (made children use new vocabulary words by playing sticky ball games)…

The possibilities are endless, kids!

[quote=“ImaniOU”]I’m sure there’s some way to put a spin on it to make it seem like it was more than just teaching…

-Micromanaged effective communication among upcoming professionals (got adult students to talk).

-Improved self-efficacy of clients through linguistically-sound techniques (in other words, you taught kids how to study for a spelling test so they could get better grades).

-Increased lexical output through engaging, kinesthetic presentations (made children use new vocabulary words by playing sticky ball games)…

The possibilities are endless, kids![/quote]

Sure it sounds good but like gao_bo_han said it doesn’t really have anything to do with engineering imparticular. It might look good for a management position but 5 years of not performing your profession is still 5 years. Alot of people might not be able to find there same jobs or positions because of this and may need to take something closer to entry level work before they can get back in the groove of things. Just what I’ve heard from people who’ve spent time teaching in foreign countries that started in different fields like IT or engineering. Of course it always helps if you take the time to keep up with your industry.

Gosh. I guess I do need to brush on being funny if people couldn’t see that I was not taking myself seriously.

To claim such things on a resume the way I did in my post would be dishonesty.

There’s no simple answer if you came here in the middle of a career and are planning to go back. The best you can say, in my opinion, is that you felt a need to step back and get a fresh perspective on things, and now that you have taken a break from your career, you are ready to jump back in the ring.

Then again, human resources manager, I ain’t.

I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.

Saying that five years of teaching English in Taiwan is a “gap” on the resume implies that one had a different career going prior to doing the teaching thing, and is now trying to pick it back up. That can be a real problem for people in certain professions, and in those cases five years teaching ESL certainly qualifies as a gap, no matter how it is explained.

My wife is an engineer, and just before she took a job out here in Alabama, we both seriously considered chucking it all and moving to the Czech Republic to teach English. We researched the country, the government, the people, the schools. We looked into various TEFL certificate programs to prepare us. We talked about it for weeks, but she ultimately decided it was too great of a risk to her career. Engineers are expected to stay on the cutting edge of technology, and that’s not easy to do when you’re traipsing around Prague teaching English for four or five years.[/quote]

cire1184 makes a good point. If you are leaving a career, and then headed back to it, then make sure that you keep some kind of link to it while you are doing your ‘other’ thing. I had a friend in finance who took 4 years to sail around the world. He took some distances courses while doing it. Not alot and nothing too fancy. When he went back to work it made sense. Did he make a big leap forward? No. Did he take astep back? No. Just got back in at about the same level and payscale as when he left. The rules and practice in finance change all of the time, so if you are out of date, (like the introduction of Sarbanes), you are in trouble. I’ve had several friends transition to new engineering jobs out of teaching. They did it by studying on-line and then going home for an advanced degree.

[quote=“cfimages”]As so many people think seem to think Taiwan means Thailand and that you’ve been sitting under a palm tree drinking beer for 5 years, you could always try saying Republic of China instead of Taiwan.

You could always BS a bit. If someone in, say a computer store, ever tried to speak bad English to you and you did anything to help them with their English (even just correcting one word) you could always make that look like you were a corporate trainer for the company.

Good luck.[/quote]

This is very true. As soon as you say you’ve been in Taiwan for the last 5 years, they instantly say, “Oh wow, how was it living in Thailand?”

BS’ing is totally O.K. When you tell people you’ve working overseas as an English teacher, they don’t really understand the whole concept anyways. Tell them you worked for large companies, teaching executives ESL.

I was in Taiwan for about 3.5 years. I returned to Canada about 8 months ago and it was definately strange explaining to people where I’d been for those 3 years of my life. I was in the bank last week with my wife and was asked what I did for a job before my current position as a healthcare worker…ummm…An English Teacher in Taiwan. There are always going to be mixed responses, but most of the time, people think it’s kind of cool and they want to hear more.

Good luck!

[color=blue]I heard you told them your real duties over here were in fact…[/color]

Hey Miltown,

Guess we are switch hitting. Either you are my designated hitter or I am yours. Send your resume to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. PM me for details and name dropping, I can hook you up etc… At least you can get hooked up playing video games and helping a few kids versus selling shit and working for evil corps. Peace

Here’s an update. So that job looking for someone with Chinese and Spanish skills did an over the phone interview with me, but I won’t be going with that job (it’s full-time.) I’ve decided to go to school as to avoid the “real world” for a few more years.

So I’ll just be traveling around, kicking it with friends and all that sort of thing, then school will start in September. Hopefully by the time I graduate I’ll have a system worked out so I can avoid the “real world” professionally. :slight_smile:

Things were a little weird at first, but I’m pretty much back into the swing of things again. Signed up for 18 credits next semester and all my financial aid stuff is taken care of.

It all worked out. Subsequent “updates” can be found on the blog.

Dude, at that rate, you’ll be out in a year or so. :astonished:

In my 6 weeks back in North America I have found that the teaching years on your resume are the least of your worries.

What I have found to be the biggest pain in the ass regarding these “gap” years is with getting life set up again.
Things like auto insurance - 6 years overseas for me has reduced me to “new driver” status which will be a pretty $180/month penny for me. Furthermore you only get a discount if you can show you’ve been insured before but only within the past 7 years. Last time I had car insurance was in California just over 7 years ago.

Another interesting thing I learned and lucked out on is the whole credit rating thing… Had to request a credit report from Equifax/Transunion (forget which one) and they told me a few interesting things that those of you who are considering coming back might want to know.

-If you have a CDN or US credit card don’t use your Taiwan address as your billing address or mailing address. Get your statements online. Why? They told me when you have an overseas address with your credit card, nothing is reported to the credit bureaus. So, if you are like me and are super responsible with your credit and want that to be reflected in a shit-hot FICO score, make sure you keep a NA address otherwise when you come back, you basically have no credit to speak of. Luckily for me I kept 2 credit cards with a NA billing address. The one I have where I used a Taiwan billing address, which i’ve had for 4 years, didn’t even feature. They check your credit for so many things here… cell phone, car financing… the whole lot. Come back with that sorted…

Hey Bushibanned,

Did you have a DL in Taiwan? If you did…wouldn’t you be able to just transfer your TW DL for an CALI DL? Just a thought.

No, I didn’t and besides I drove a scooter there so if I had a scooter license it wouldn’t have been transferable. Canada only recognizes licenses from an handful of countries and Japan is the only asian one.

You’ll be able to get about $10 per hour working at B&Q or Home Depot or some wood-grinder-that-mulches-tropical-trees-from-Indonesia in Canada. Everything you touch will be from Borneo, illegally cut.