Job Hunting Tips for ESL Positions Abroad

ESL Expat Life
Have you ever thought of becoming an English teacher abroad? Many people use this way to finance a life of travels to exotic countries. Since English is in high demands in all the countries of the world, you can basically throw a dart on the map and choose your destination. But where to start? How to get a job? What are the basic requirements to become an English teacher and make it your ticket to travel the world? It’s easier than it sounds… really!

Where to start your research?

If you’re new to the worldwide job hunting game, here are a few tips to get you started. Just like any other jobs, you’ll need to look everywhere and remember you’re not the only one looking so make sure you try everything.

  • Specialised ESL job forums: There are hundreds of them, simply type “ESL job in [name of country]” in Google and you’ll see. Take the time to explore all the possibilities. Make sure the website/forum is up-to-date by checking the dates of the latest job posting. Some of them offer to let you upload your CV or you can sign up for email alerts.
  • University/School websites: Using good old Google find a list of schools/universities in the country that interests you and find their official websites (Wikipedia works too). Then look for the Vacancy/Recruitment page to see what positions are available. If they have no current openings, you can either save the page for later or try to get the contact details (through the website) of the Head of Department. Send them your CV anyway, you never know.

USEFUL TIP: When sending your CV to schools, always try to contact the person in charge of education rather then HR. Heads teachers, Heads of department are the ones who usually originate the demands for new staff and if they like your CV they might suddenly “need” you while HR will just ignore your CV if they haven’t been told of job openings.

  • Networking: it’s time to open your long forgotten address book and ask around for anyone you may know who is already teaching abroad. People on the ground are usually the first to know about job openings in their departments/university/school. Some employers actually ask for in-house reference when you apply with them and preference may be given to friends of current employees.
  • Expat Communities/Forums: If you don’t have any friends who can help you it’s time to make new friends, preferably in the country where you’d like to teach. The internet is full of communities for expats. Register (it’s often free), participate in forum discussions, get some tips and advice and try to connect directly with other teachers or people who could help you in your job search.

USEFUL TIP: This may not sound like a good way to find a job but combined with the other ones above, you may strike gold. It happened to me once, i found out a university was looking for new teachers and then on one of those forums ( i met a lady who was working there and she gave me a direct email address to the Head of Department.

  • Social medias: in today’s world, who can ignore Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and the others…? Get yourself a professional profile on all of them. Don’t use the same one where you post photos of you in shorts in holidays or just woken up from a night of partying!!! When possible, include your contact details, upload your most recent CV and picture and describe what position you’re looking for.

Applying for jobs

As with any job search you’ll need to have a recent CV and cover letter ready. Different countries have different practices of course but those 2 are usually required everywhere. Make sure your CV highlights any English Language or Teaching qualifications, include any certificate or training you may have done. Also highlight any teaching experience. If you have no experience, highlight past jobs which demonstrate the qualities required to be an ESL teacher abroad such as ability to work others, a curiosity for other cultures… And don’t forget a recent, clean ID style picture on the CV.

USEFUL TIP: Have a comprehensive CV ready with ALL your qualifications an experience, then use this Master CV to cut and paste to create a Specialised CV aimed at a certain employer and targetting a particular position so that it always look like you’re perfect for the job.

If you have those, your CV has a strong chance of catching someone’s attention:

  • a Phd (in more or less any subject)
  • a CELTA, DELTA or TEFL certificate (See my article on CELTA for ESL teaching HERE)
  • 2+ years of teaching experience
  • Available for immediate start
  • Teaching couple
  • Degrees from respectable universities in the UK or the US

It is important to know than in some countries Online degrees and certificates are not recognised. Check the internet to find out about this point in the country where you’d like to relocate and be prepared to answer that question in interviews.

Getting an ESL job abroad
Korea is a very popular destination
for ESL teaching

Getting yourself ready

When you have send your CV and applied for jobs, you need to put together an application pack. Once someone like your CV they will request a series of documents to further your application and shortlist you. Since you are applying to move abroad and they cannot talk to you face to face, you need to convince them by email most of the time.

The following are very often asked by employers and recruiters:

  • Valid Passport + scanned copies of it
  • Scans of all your qualifications/Diplomas/Certificates…
  • Letters of recommendations from at least 2 recent employers
  • Certificates of employment indicating job title, responsibilities, salary, dates of employment…
  • Recent ID pictures
  • A Skype account for interviews
USEFUL TIP: beware of scams. Now that your contact details and CV are out there, you may receive some fake job offers by email. Scammers are after your CV (with all your personal details of course), money and passport details (some genuine employers request to see passport copies to check your nationality and make sure you can get visas). Read my post to learn how to Recognise and Avoid Scams.

While you wait…

  • If you don’t have a CELTA or equivalent, it might be a very good idea to get one. Use the time until you get a job to get a TEFL certificate. Some can be done in very little time and will be a great boost to your CV
  • Read about Skype and phone interviews. While they are similar to regular interviews, they also have their own rules and specificities

I think you’re ready now, i wish you all the best in your job hunting… see you somewhere around the world and let me know when you land your dream job abroad.

9 thoughts on “Job Hunting Tips for ESL Positions Abroad

  1. No doubt that “2+ years of teaching experience” is a great tip for job seekers. Now, I am going to apply all these tips for my next job application. It would be an awesome thing to bring a great result in the end. Thanks anyway!

  2. Great post and listed tips are wonderfully described. One of my closest friend wants to get the job in same filed but was confused where to start. This post is perfect for him. It would help him out. Thanks for sharing such an informative tips.

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