How to maximize your desirability to potential employers
I hear often from people who are having trouble finding a good teaching job and I often wonder how that can be when, in most countries, there just aren’t enough EFL teachers. Inevitably there is something going on that creates a barrier for the new or potential teacher and let’s talk about how to overcome a few of them.
Have Realistic Expectations about your first TEFL job
Be realistic about that first job. About the wages and circumstances under which you are willing to work. TEFL is a REAL job with REAL work. I have had people contact me with LONG lists of their demands and sometimes even call them that! Their “demands”! But yet, some of these people have almost nothing to offer other than a passing familiarity with English.
Scan the job ads for a country and see what entry level jobs pay. If the going rate for a new teacher at a university in China is 4-5000 RMB – then that is likely what you will be offered. That you previously worked for MicroSoft or a big investment bank is not really relevant. If you can’t accept entry level wages, don’t enter a new occupation. Stay where you are.
Get Some Training!
Any kind. Online, in-classroom, free training from a immigration training center where you might volunteer – anywhere! Show that you have a willingness to learn how to teach and provide a good service for your students.
Get a Professional Photo
Most jobs around the world will want you to submit a photo with your resume. Get a good quality photograph taken of yourself in professional dress. Be sure you are immaculately groomed, put on a big smile, hide that big tattoo on your neck. I have had people send me photos of themselves obviously drunk, sometimes kissing their drunk boyfriend or girlfriend (yeah, that makes you want to hire someone as a teacher . . . ), big glass of beer in their hands. Would you hire someone who sent you a photo like that to represent their professional character as a teacher? Of course not. I also had a 55-year-old woman send me a photo of her kissing a 25ish-year-old young man . . . Son? Boyfriend? Student?
What does it say about someone when they obviously don’t know how to present themselves in a professional manner? Does it reflect on the possible absence of other professional skills? I sure think so.
Make your Resume/CV Relevant
If you taught school ten years ago for a couple years but never again – put that job at the TOP of your CV. Create a section call “Professional Teaching/Training Experience” and list those jobs then a section just called Professional Experience (other). Highlight anything that is relevant to teaching. I’ve reviewed resumes of people who want to teach in China who never mention anything in their resume about teaching experience, but after exchanging a few emails it comes out that they taught in Japan ten years ago! That is important to know! It makes a huge difference.
Put the things that qualify you for the job at the top of the page. Don’t make a potential employer search to find it. They might NOT find it!
TED’s Tips™ #1: Just these few small things can easily make the difference between an interview and no response at all from a potential employer. Pay attention to how you present yourself. It is important.