TESOL TEFL Job Search Tips

[Note: in the previous post, I wrote about finding a job that capitalizes on your personal work history and talents. When you are searching for a job, doing this will help you stand out from the crowd. The following article will expand on the last. Happy reading!]

In today’s blog post I want to emphasize a point I made previously: that you should not only apply to schools which are advertising, but also apply to other schools in your target area that you think might be a good fit for you. I have been lucky enough to get three out of four of my last jobs this way—in colleges/universities which were not advertising vacancies at the time I approached them.

I feel that there are quite a few reasons why this is a great strategy, and here are two of the most compelling:

1. Advertising for teachers takes up valuable time

Hiring new teachers is a lengthy, time-consuming process and schools often don’t have enough knowledgeable office staff to do a thorough job of it. In fact, the person whose responsibility it is to take on new teachers probably has other full-time tasks (like teaching their own classes). This human resources staff shortage makes it an ideal situation for you to walk in, greet the department head, and talk your way into a job. Even if all you do is send an email or package with your resume and friendly photo, you’ll be on their minds as a go-getter.

2. The odds are in your favor

One time a friend of mine was looking for a new job in a big city. He wanted a job in a language school.  In that city there were about ten suitable schools, and I figured that each school had between four and eight teachers. Now, because these schools were mostly reliant on recruiters to find them new native-speaking foreign teachers, they very rarely advertised, even when they had a vacancy.  In other words, they were paying a lot of money to a recruiter to find someone for them.

My friend said he was reluctant to go to the schools and ask about jobs. But I think he should have done that. If we break down the numbers, we can see that if there are ten schools with an average of six teachers, then there are about sixty teachers working between all the schools. This means that potentially there could be an opening for a new teacher every week of the year.

Rationalizing that most teachers would give four weeks’ notice before leaving a job, then you can guess that there are about four openings that schools would know about at any given time. That equates to a big chance that a school my friend approached with his resume looking for work would either have a position available to offer him or be aware of an opening at another school. (Teachers tend to hang out together, even if from different schools)

Put yourself in the shoes of the school administrator—how nice would it be to be spared the time (and expense!) of advertising for, interviewing and selecting candidates for that job, and just offer it to an enterprising teacher who happened to knock on the right door at the right time?

Ted’s Tips™ #1: Stop waiting to see an advertisement—go get the job you want.

Ted’s Tips™ #2: Network. If you are polite and friendly when you approach a school for a job, they may tell you another place to look for work if they are unable to hire you themselves. This is especially true in colleges and universities, which might be well-connected between branches and departments and will likely know of other openings coming up.

Really, it comes down to: Why fight the competition? Just out-think them!

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TEFL Job Search Tips: #1

Job Search in TEFL

If you read the previous post about finding a TEFL position where you can use your special set of skills, knowledge and experience, you will understand that finding these types of positions puts you ahead of the job search game, ahead of the pack looking for any type of English teaching job.

Today I want to bring to your attention that you should not only apply to schools advertising jobs but also to apply to those schools not advertising – this might your best strategy. The last three of my four college/university teaching jobs I got at schools that were not advertising at the time.

I believe there are many reasons why it is better to apply using this strategy, but I will highlight the two most important reasons:

Schools often prefer not to advertise and interview candidates.

It is more than common that schools don’t have a human resources team to advertise jobs and interview potential teachers. The time-consuming task of interviewing, sifting through applications and asking questions is usually done by a teacher that is already busy with teaching, their own responsibilities and daily tasks.

Taking part in the hiring process can be a tiring process for these teachers, something that will not make them jump for joy. If a qualified candidate presents themselves in person or sends a CV/resume with a photo via mail – for a current job opening, or an opening coming soon – this will lift the weight from their shoulders.

The Numbers Game

My friend once looked for a job in a language school in a city with about ten major schools. Most of these schools had four to eight teachers, they were looking for a native-speaking foreigner but they rarely advertised and had no clue how to get someone for the position without using a recruiter.

My friend was hesitant to apply for unadvertised positions.

But if you have a look at the numbers, you’ll figure that there are ten schools with about six teachers each. If you do the math that means sixty teachers rotating in and out….so on average, one opening every week.

There is a 40% opportunity that any one of those schools will have an opening or an opening coming up. Usually people will give a month’s notice (toward the end of their one-year contract) at those schools which means there will be at least four openings that schools know about at any one time.

If they don’t have to go through all the time-consuming interviews their workload will surely be less!

Ted’s Tips™ #1: Time is what you make of it, don’t wait for the advertisement, go out and get the job.

Ted’s Tips™ #2:  If you are polite, friendly and searching for a job in an appropriate manner, you may well be lucky enough to hear about an opening at a school through another school, college or university.

Get ahead of the game, out think your competition.

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Experienced People Seeking Work as EFL Teachers

More GREAT questions from our readers . . .

It seems as though entry-level positions are easy enough to come by, and the path by which one applies for those jobs is rather straightforward, whereas something related to my specialty field will require job hunting just like we hunt jobs here in the US.

You are correct.  You will need to use those same skills.  The difference is that people are looking for you; you just have to find them.

It can take a bit of research if you want more than just the generic entry-level job.  And you should want more.  You have a degree and experience that is valuable to the right people.

Should I still look into TEFL certification?

Absolutely.  There are some special skills required for teaching EFL.  It’s not rocket science, you will grasp it quickly and easily, but it is a skill that needs to be practiced and you won’t be super good at it for a while.

Taking a course also demonstrates that you are interested enough in teaching that you took a course to pick up a few skills.  It helps overcome the idea that you just want to travel and well . . . you need a job and some money so . . . hmmm, why not teach?

 Should I send out my resume/CV to any college/university that has a special program in my area?

Absolutely!  Don’t wait for a school to advertise so that your resume/CV is lost in the flood.  Most schools hate to advertise and you do them a favor by sending them your details before they have to.

A bit of strategy here – based on what I have observed on the scene over the last 20 years.

Send your resume and details to the president of the university.  Include a nice photo (required in most countries) where you are dressed professionally and immaculately groomed.

The president may not even look at it, but will pass it to the department head , who may not care to look at it, but is worried that the president will ask about it next time they talk.  So – you are much more likely to get a reasonable review.

A professional photo is very good investment. 

Many cultures put a lot of emphasis on personal appearance.  It is not that you look nice; it is that you make an effort to present yourself as a professional.

That one simple thing will put you ahead of 80% of applicants, who either didn’t bother to submit a photo (they likely won’t be considered at all) or sent one kissing the boy/girlfriend, drunk at a party, hiking in the mountains . . . well, you see what I mean.

And, really, people do send those types of photos.  Some even with the former lovemate blacked out, but still obvious.

Let’s repeat part of the question:  Should I send out my resume/CV

Yes, but that is a pretty passive search.  Telephone calls are dirt cheap these days and Skype is even cheaper.  Follow up.  For people over 50 (like me), I recommend heading out and personally contacting schools – face to face.

 The age issue . . .

Many schools are concerned about health problems, so if they see you in person they can rest assured that you are healthy and ready to take on the job.

With us older folks they are also concerned about rigidity and argumentativeness.  Yeah, some older people are like that – but not me!  Anyway, so if they meet you face to face, that problem is solved too.

Should I take lessons in the local language?

That is a mixed bag.  The school wants you for your English skills, not for their local language.

Taking a language course does show some interest in the local culture, but some schools will worry that you will practice your new language with the students instead of helping the students practice English with you.

TED’s Tips™ #1:  People with some good work experience and education on their resume/CV can leverage that experience and education into better jobs and even university positions if they do a bit of research and look in the right places.

You don’t have to be 50+ to take this route.  There are a lot of people in their mid-late 20s with great work experience and good educations.

Don’t settle for an entry level position if you have the ability to start further up the food chain.

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