Job Search: Finding Jobs Teaching English Abroad

 In July we got this note from a reader over at our sister website – TEFL Newbie:

You advised me about 5 months ago to try teaching in Thailand. I want to thank you because I’ve been teaching at a Thai university for nearly two months and I’m greatly enjoying my life here.

Mailing a lot of resumes from a distant country was doing me no good. Once I arrived in Thailand and was able to hand people my resume, it made a huge difference in getting considered for the positions I wanted.

If you are not having luck searching for the job you want overseas, try going there and applying in person.  This is a common theme in job search and it works.

Let’s look at YOU from the employer’s point of view.

Lots of people apply, many don’t show up.

This is especially true for popular tourist destinations, such as Thailand – as suggested above.  People go to Nepal, China, Japan, Thailand, Mexico and other places and decide, sometimes on a whim, to move there to work.  It was so wonderful to visit – it must be great living there.  Yes?

The number of people hired from a distance compared to the number who actually show up on the job – can be as low as 50%.  So, in the employer’s eyes – hiring you from a distance is a bit of a gamble.  The students need a teacher at the front of the room, how much risk can the school take about you showing up – or not?

Many applicants misrepresent themselves.

If you interview in person at least the employer can see you and what your level of sincerity might be.  They can easily ask follow up questions if something doesn’t make sense.  And they can follow up on the follow up if need be.

They can see your documents in hard copy and not in an easily doctored digital form.  They can have much more confidence in knowing that you are the person you say you are, with the skills you say you have and the experience and qualifications you claim to have.

Many people really should NOT be teachers.

Some people, some potential teachers and even some real teachers – are not friendly people that you would enjoy being around.  This is really difficult to know from abroad.  Asia – in particular – puts great emphasis on work place harmony and they want to know if you can get along on the job.  Will you be friendly to staff and to students?

Language schools in particular – but even many universities and colleges these days – are businesses.  The students are their customers.   These customers can go out the door and down the street to another school.  Or they can tell their friends how great their teachers are and bring them into the school and help the business make a profit.

Interviewing you in person will help the school have a better sense of how you will get along with your coworkers and students.

TED’s Tips™ #1:  If you are having difficulty landing that “dream” job with email applications, your best bet is probably to head on over and interview in person.

TED’s Tips™ #2:  Before you go, check out the employment visa regulations for that country and also plan on a “visa run” to a neighboring country to change your tourist visa to an employment related visa.

TED’s Tips™ #3:  All a bit of a hassle?  Sometimes the best things in life require a bit of effort to make them happen.  If you are not a native speaker, not young, white, attractive, blond-haired and blue-eyed – (those are the people most easily hired from abroad) – then head on overseas to get what you want.   People do it every day.  I’ve done it.  You can too!

Teaching Internships in China


Resume CV for Teaching English Abroad

TEFL Job Search Resume CV

How you present yourself matters much more than you might think. Much of the world pays close attention to how you present yourself. They consider it a matter of importance whether you do, or not. If you want the job, do what is required to get it.

#1. Put your photo on your resume and be sure you are dressed professionally. Yeah, yeah, this is illegal in the USA and a few other places, but are you applying for a job in the USA? No.

#2. Put what qualifies you for the job at the top of the page. Don’t make a potential employer struggle to find out if you meet the minimum qualifications for the job.

#3. Professional photo and professional email address. I once had a teacher candidate apply for a job with the email address of How willing would most schools be to employ this person? Not!

People sometimes send photos of themselves drunk with friends, sometimes even photos of them fondling members of the opposite (or even same) sex! What are they trying to show or prove?! Send a professional photo with you in professional dress.

Get real – while you might be seeking employment overseas as a one year vacation – party – lark – your employer is looking for a real teacher who has a commitment to their students and not just to the local bars, babes and dudes, and beaches.

#4. Stress anything and everything related to teaching and training that you have ever done before. Even volunteer work.

Answer the question: Why should this employer think you are qualified to stand in front of his students? The very students that determine the success of his/her business?

#5. Focus on the job you are seeking. Your resume need not reflect a training course you took twenty years ago about computer security. Unless, of course, you are seeking a computer security job, but then you are on the wrong website.

DOUBLE CHECK your entire resume for spelling and grammar problems. Don’t write in email shorthand, use proper English. In fact, if you intend to teach English – ever – anywhere – start practicing now using English properly.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Approach your job search as professionally as you would in your home country.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Get a professional photograph taken with you wearing professional dress. Just that one small factor alone can improve your chances over 100%. Much of the world puts STRONG importance on presentation. Why not win from the start?