World events conspire to help you move up the TEFL job ladder . . .
Here is a bit of guidance on how to land jobs – right now – that you never would have been considered for, even just a few months ago. Really!
First a bit of a short story to illustrate for you how it works.
During my 20+ years abroad I’ve lived in numerous countries where “interesting” things have happened. This is not unusual and almost everyone who has lived overseas for an extended period of time will have experienced everything from riots in the streets, to wars to tsunamis to anything else that hits the headlines big.
Let talk a bit about these things and what they might mean for you.
When I was living in South Korea in 1992-94 there were tense times between the South and North and EFL schools had a terrible time recruiting. No one wanted to come. Even where I was – Pusan (these days known as Busan) – at the extreme far south of the country about as far away as you could get from N. Korea – no one would go there and many teachers there bailed out and left. There were worrying significant incidents, perhaps roughly similar to the North shelling the island north of Incheon recently.
I was living in Taipei when mainland China was conducting “live fire” exercises shooting missiles directly over Taiwan back about ’94-95. That incident only lasted perhaps a week or two – but no teachers wanted to go there for almost a year afterward.
In Thailand in 2004 when the Boxing Day tsunami struck, no one wanted to teach there for almost a year, even in Bangkok almost 700 miles away!
In Saudi Arabia, just shortly after the Al Khobar bombing, no one would go there to teach for almost a year.
In Thailand again, during relatively recent civil unrest in Banggok, no one wanted to go and teach in Phuket Island – again about 700 miles away, far away from the problems.
In Japan right now, teachers are bailing out and no one wants to go there. And that situation will likely persist for at least a year.
Now . . . many other similar incidents have happened around the world, these are only a few examples. Others would be earthquakes in Chile, drug wars in Mexico, street protests in Iran and on and on. What they have in common is that teachers bail out in droves and new teachers won’t go there. Even if the “incident” is over. Even if the incident was hundreds, possibly even a thousand miles away – teachers bail, no one comes. Even if the “incident” was three or four months ago.
I am sure that right now, even on Kyushu island in the far south of Japan, schools are having difficulty recruiting the teachers they need to fill their positions. Even though Nagasaki or even Fukuoka are both well over 600+ miles away from the problems in the north, teachers are bailing out, recently contracted teachers will not arrive and there is difficulty hiring new teachers to fill their vacant positions.
This situation repeats itself probably at least several times a year around the world. Saudi Arabia – right now – is probably having real difficulty finding the people they need for teaching positions as the world anticipates potential civil unrest.
What all this means to you . . .
LOTS of jobs are open and you can usually land jobs that are much higher up the food chain than you might otherwise have had the opportunity to grab. This would be the time to apply for that supervisory position or university professor position that wasn’t really open to you a few months ago.
Now – I am NOT suggesting that you go to Libya and throw yourself in the line of fire in order to land a job with better wages. Do your research as to what the situation on the ground is – no matter where you are looking for work. But I would bet that there are good jobs going wanting in Alexandria, Egypt. In Nagasaki and Fukuoka. Probably even excellent university positions in Saudi Arabia.
Get the idea? If you don’t want to be in or too near the trouble spot, look in the same country on the far other side. If Saudi might have trouble in Damman where there is a majority Shia population – work on the other side of the country in Jeddah. Because, generally speaking, people don’t think these things through – they just avoid the whole country rather than the specific area where problems are occurring.
If there was a riot in Los Angeles, would you refuse a great job in Las Vegas? Phoenix? San Francisco? That is exactly what most teachers do
TED’s Tips™ #1: View times of trouble as having the potential for great opportunity. I personally would not want to work in Sendai right now, but I would be very happy to work in Osaka or Kobe or Nagasaki. And there are a load of good jobs waiting for you there right now. Probably I would be game to work in Sendai a few months from now though . . .
TED’s Tips™ #2: After you have lived abroad for a few years, you will come to realize how much the international press over plays many situations. It’s good for viewership. But it is usually bad for the country. I still remember when I was in university and a river on the edge of town flooded. The press played it up like the whole town had washed away. Great shots of cars floating down the river, a few people sobbing and crying – great drama for the ratings. But far less than one percent of the city was affected. That was never mentioned. Friends and family were calling to see if I was still alive!
TED’s Tips™ #3: I am not trying to minimize difficult situations. What I am suggesting is that you think for yourself, do a bit of research and if the situation seems right for you to seek great opportunity that might otherwise not have been available to you – go for it!
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