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!

Teaching Internships in China


The Job Market for Teaching English Abroad

Recently a reader wrote:

To be honest I am a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of positions in S. Korea, China, and Japan . . ..

In the postings for positions in China I am surprised by the sheer volume of listings and by the often times scant requirements . . .

For instance the ****** Company has a posting in Beijing for 5000-9000RMB/month, housing, airfare, Mandarin lessons . . .

I have seen several positions with similar promises. Are these too good to be true?

In response, I wrote the following:

What you are finding out is that it is a GREAT jobs market out there for teachers. HUGE. The jobs you are finding sound about right. There is great demand.

Realize that when a school advertises they will pay 5000-9000RMB, what they usually really mean is they will pay 5000! Maybe 5500. Graduate degree and ten years experience then maybe 7000. So – don’t put too much stock in it.  Be aware too, that the megacities in China, for example, will often pay a bit more due to the much higher cost of living in those cities.  It is not usually enough to compensate for the higher expenses though.

It costs nothing to interview and when you interview you can get a feel of the employer and if they seem real or not. My opinion after only 20 years overseas is that the incidence of “scams” is highly overrated. Be careful, of course, and if someone offers you five times what everyone else pays – then you should perhaps wonder, but otherwise it is a pretty solid market.

Payment or benefits that include accommodation and airfare are not unusual at all for China and Korea.  In China you will oftentimes even be given a utilities subsidy and free computer and internet in your free apartment.  Yeah!

TED’s Tips™ #1:  It is a great job market out there for teachers of English.  It is – as mentioned above – quite the opposite of the job market in the USA and UK right now.  Enjoy looking for a job where you are REALLY and eagerly wanted.  It is nice change of pace.  Go and enjoy!

Teaching Internships in China

Getting your First Job Teaching English Abroad

Nervous about landing that first Job?

Don’t worry about it . . .

Welcome to a new world where the job search and even interviews very rarely have that dehumanizing and degrading aspect that we are all so familiar with from job hunts in our Western world.

Yeah . . . the demand for EFL teachers worldwide is so great that you will find it surprisingly easy to land your first job offer.

They are looking for YOU – not the usual other way around.  But take your time, find the right position and make sure you will be happy.

Whether thinking about a two-year “lark” teaching overseas – or if you would like TEFL to offer you a long-term career – give this website a good read. No, we don’t really have all the answers, because the answers are as individual as each person thinking of entering the field.  But we do have about 100 posts to help you learn more and get yourself up to speed.

If you are interested in trying your hand at teaching English overseas, but don’t yet want to commit to a one-year contract, go over to
TEFL Temp where information about short-term TEFL positions is posted. Some are as short four months and sometimes even include airfare and training. Hard to beat that!

TEFL Newbie was written by a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana from 1989 to 1991 (me!) who designed the site with the complete “Newbie” in mind and answers just about every question you might have about Teaching English Overseas.

Once you land that first job – put what you have learned on this website to work!

TED’s Tips™ #1: Like finding a job in any industry, that first job may not be perfect – nor the one of your dreams. But it is a start. Just because you are heading overseas, don’t let your head get stuck in fantasyland. It is still a job, things are still required of you and your new employer will expect you to deliver. It is all part of growing up – even if you are already in your 60s.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Go on over to TEFL Boot Camp and give that website a good read too.  Much of the content on that website is FREE.

Teaching Internships in China


TEFL Opportunities you won’t Believe

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!

The BEST EFL Teaching Jobs in China: Government Colleges, Universities and Secondary Schools offer the most reliable and worry-free jobs in China. Click on the Link if you would like to Teach English in China

How do I Find my First TEFL Job?

Landing that First Job Teaching English Overseas

The TEFL Job Search

This is, for me, the fun part. You’ll find hunting for a job teaching English overseas much less humiliating that the job hunt back home. In fact, not humiliating at all.

Schools and companies overseas actually NEED and WANT you! WoW! Kind of a nice self-esteem thing . . . and the first dramatic change that this life can bring to you.

This is a short page as I want you to get to work on this dream of yours – that can be a reality in just a few weeks!

Now that you have made the decision, I will allow myself, just for a brief moment, to be a salesman for the TEFL Career. Preaching to the choir, so to speak.

A Short Personal Story

My wife and I sometimes look at each other and say, “Would you ever have imagined, a year before we left (almost 20 years ago!), that we could have done all the things we have done? That we would have worked and lived in so many countries? That we would have been able to travel to so many different countries? That we could have learned and experienced so much?” Our answer is always, “Nope, could never have imagined it!” It still surprises us!

This life can be real for you!

One of the very best places to look for information is over at TEFLDaddy.com, a website I wrote some years ago to help answer all the questions people were asking me. The TEFL Job Search section there is better than anything you will find elsewhere on the Web.

Go ahead, fantasize a bit – cruise the jobs boards at: Dave’s ESL Cafe, ESL Jobs Now and even at TEFL.com.

TED’s Tips™ #1: This is the time to branch out and check every jobs website you can find. Contact employers. You’ll be amazed at how easy it really is.

The BEST EFL Teaching Jobs in China: Government Colleges, Universities and Secondary Schools offer the most reliable and worry-free jobs in China. Click on the Link if you would like to Teach English in China