Turbocharge your TEFL Job Seach

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.

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 hotsex69@something.com 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?