What They don’t Teach you at TEFL School #28

Be Sure to Keep your Contacts “Back Home”

Okay, it’s not really #28 but we will have 100+ before we get done.

Whether you intend to spend three months, six months, one year, or the rest of your life – overseas – keep networking with your friends and former coworkers back home. Keep in touch with them. Maintain your friendships!

When you go back home on vacation, visit with your former coworkers.  Go to lunch or out for a beer with them. Exchange e-mails. Send them photographs of your travels and of your life overseas.

Let them know you are doing REAL work, not just traveling around on a lark. And you will, btw, be doing real work (you may be surprised just how hard you end up working!). You never know when you might need, or want, their help to transition back home again.


Yes! Even more so than back home, networking is critical in the EFL business. In the last 18 years I’ve only done a few real interviews!  Of my last two EFL jobs – one was completely arranged by a long-term friend, and the other was with a former employer I kept in touch with and went out for a beer with whenever I was in his town. And I bought more than a few of those beers to keep our relationship equal, though he was at the time a far wealthier man than I.

After 16 years in the TEFL world, I now keep in touch with friends in several countries, all of whom would be willing to help me find a job if I needed their help.

And, I would be willing to do the same – and they know it too.

Foreign Cultures

Networking is even more important in many foreign cultures than back home, so keep those contacts solid at home and everywhere you work overseas. You’ll be amazed how important they can become. In many cultures introductions are just as important as, often more important than, qualifications and experience.  As I mentioned earlier one of my more recent jobs – a nice university position – was arranged by a friend.  They hired me on the strength of his recommendation.  That and a three-minute telephone interview.  I think it was him more than the interview.

WILL I have trouble going home?

Just because you are overseas – living big maybe – doesn’t mean you can forget about the world back home. You need to keep your contacts up to date, continue educating yourself in your previous occupation and in your new one.

Depending on your previous career and the skill level required, and how fast that career field is changing, it DOES become more difficult to return home into the type of position you held at the time you left. This is true particularly after about five to eight years of being away (in my opinion).

My Case

I last worked in my chosen profession back home (social work administration) in 1989. Though I have maintained many contacts in the field, I do not think I could return to the level of job I had when I left. BUT! I don’t think I would have trouble returning to that line of work, due to my contacts. I might have to start a little lower down the totem pole.

I last went to lunch with a former supervisor about a year ago. I really believe that she would help me land a quite decent job if I asked, and she is certainly in the position to help as her responsibilities and abilities have moved her high up in such organizations (CFO and CEO of large non-profits) in the time I have been gone.

Twenty-one Years Later

When I first wrote this page, I was preparing for the visit of a friend with whom I worked in Africa in 1989 (a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer)! Good friends, great experiences over all these years, no doubt we would be happy – and pleased – to help each other if we needed.

You will develop the same type of relationships. It is a very special world out here! It really is.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Keep up your contacts. You never know when you will need them. And they are very nice to have if you do need them.