We get emails and messages from TEFL qualified teachers every day saying that they can’t get an online English teaching job, and that their TEFL certificate is worthless, or that all the TEFL certificate course providers are lying about whether they can get a job.
Well we are sorry to say that most of the time it is you. It’s something that you probably don’t want to hear, it’s easier to blame your lack of success on something out of your control, rather than doing something to fix it. But yes, it’s your fault you can’t get an online English teaching job.
That doesn’t mean you can’t fix it though. And yes, we agree that the ESL industry in some countries can be quite ageist and racist but that doesn’t mean there are no opportunities out there for you.
Will this blog create some angst and maybe even some anger? Probably.
Will we get some angry emails… we have no doubt that will happen.
Will some people unfollow us on social media, or unsubscribe from our email list? Definitely.
And we are sure mant will tell us all about why we are wrong and how they are different and they have done everything right but still can’t get an online English teaching job.
Are you one of these people? If so, you probably should know we are not writing this to be mean or make you feel bad. Reading this should make you reflect on how you have been applying for jobs and whether you have been putting yourself out there as a good candidate.
So let’s get started and you can discover the top 5 reasons you can’t get an online English teaching job.
These are in no particular order, and be warned you may find that you fit several of them.
Don’t blame us, this is your chance to start making things right, so you have the opportunity to get that job you want.
1.Your resume is awful
Not sure if you’ve noticed but Just ESL Jobs is part of a brand of ESL related services, one of the other ones is Just ESL Resumes. Now you may be thinking this is just a plug for our services, but the truth is we have plenty of work because good teachers know they need a good resume to get a job, so they come to Just ESL Resumes because they know we make them look good.
That means your resume is competing against ones that are written by professionals for a start.
Does your resume stand up to the competition?
In fact we have been so overwhelmed with clients that we had to create a course ‘How to Create Your ESL Resume’ to show people how to create their own ESL resumes, as we were having to turn people away!
You may also notice that a lot of teachers also provide referrals to new teachers, and as part of that many will review your resume and tweak it so it paints you in a better light. So you are competing against those teachers as well.
We have seen the best and the worst that ESL teachers have to offer. And we can’t tell you strongly enough that the resume rules in your country don’t count, if you want to work teaching English whether it’s online or face-to-face abroad, you need to adapt to a global resume style that communicates the information the recruiter needs immediately.
For instance it is quite common to include a photograph in your resume for EL jobs. Yes, they are going to judge you and yes they are trying to make sure you are the person they are going to hire.
You probably don’t want to use your passport photo where even Beyonce probably looks like it’s a mugshot. You don’t want to use your wedding photo or a holiday snap, you don’t want it to be blurry or a selfie in your car.
You should have a nice photo of you smiling and looking at the camera. Here are some pics to avoid when taking a photo for your resume.
Here are some of other things seen in resumes that could be why you can’t get an online English teaching job:
You would be surprised the amount of resumes that we see and recruiters see that have spelling errors!
Syntax and grammar errors
Again no need for this especially if you want to teach English
Your marriage status may be useful if you are looking to travel to teach English abroad but it’s certainly not relevant to teach online. And do you think a recruiter in China cares what your drivers licence number is, how many children you have or what your national id number is?
Some people think that a recruiter needs to know everything right from when they were in high school including what subjects they did and the grades. They really don’t care if you were a high school debater in grade 9. Believe it or not they are actually more interested in your degree, TEFL certifications and 10 years teaching experience
Country specific terminology
Think about where you are applying. Is the recruiter in your industry and country? Most likely not. So if you give them a whole list of acronyms that they have no idea what it means, they will not bother to ask, trust us.
Not providing actual relevant information
In some countries it is popular to put any qualifications at the end of a resume, that’s great if that’s their thing, but in the ESL industry having a degree is one of the most important qualifications for many positions.
So why would you put that at the end of the resume?
Most recruiters won’t even get to the end of the resume to find out if you have a degree.
What about those of you who are having a career change? You used to work in sales and now want to teach English online to children, that’s awesome but it’s probably of interest to a recruiter to know you coached kids in soccer for 10 years and provided homework tutoring to disadvantaged kids for 3 years. That’s relevant, not that you won highest sales in 1996.
It’s too long
Most of the time it gets long because it has old information and irrelevant information but there are other reasons too, like including every little detail of a job or 10 references. And no-one else will tell you this but you don’t need a title page for your resume.
Think about it. A recruiter may get upwards of 100 resumes a day, even if it gets past the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and into the hands of an actual person do you think they have enough time to read your 8 page resume with information from when you went to high school in 1976?
A recruiter not only has resumes to read, they have introduction scripts to view, advertising of jobs. mentoring, interviews and conducting mock classes. Even if you are the best candidate for a role, it doesn’t mean your resume will be read in its entirety if it has any of the above concerns.
How many of you are now opening up your resume now to see how many of these issues are the reason you can’t get an online English teaching job?
This blog has some great hints and tips to get you started!
But if you need more help, and want to get 3 resume examples plus 3 real life examples of resumes that get English teaching jobs, you should consider How to Create Your ESL Resume
2. You Think You Deserve a Job
This isn’t just relevant to the ESL industry but to most industries, you see it on Facebook and you see it on LinkedIn and other forums. Some people think that just because they have the right qualifications for the job, that they should just magically have a job.
It doesn’t quite work like that, even in the ESL industry where recruiters are desperate for good candidates.
Did you read that? GOOD CANDIDATES.
Yes believe it or not, recruiters want good candidates for the schools they are recruiting for.
Just because you managed to finish a TEFL course or a degree doesn’t make you a good candidate, and the opposite is true too.
You don’t deserve a job just because you exist or write ’interested’ on a Facebook or LinkedIn post.
If you behave like you deserve a job, you are most likely not doing the things that help you get a job.
3. You Don’t Even Try
I saw a post on a Facebook group the other day where someone said they wasted their money getting a TEFL certificate and it was impossible to get a job, someone else posted agreeing and said ‘I have been waiting for months for recruiters to contact me and no-one ever has. Doing the TEFL certificate was a complete waste of time and money’.
When asked how many jobs he had applied for the answer was 1 or 2 but he ‘didn’t know where to apply’. Ermmm how about this amazing thing called Google and typing something as simple as ‘online esl jobs’?
Or another lady who posted on LinkedIn saying that she had applied to a lot of schools and even though she had all the right qualifications had never had an interview. Of course that is a concern because usually you would get at least a nibble.
So after asking a few more questions I discovered that she had never recorded an introduction video. Never! She didn’t even try to submit the information required by the recruiters, but couldn’t work out why she wasn’t getting a job.
Of course there are also the candidates who answer a recruiter post on Facebook or LinkedIn simply saying “Interested”, or ask about how to apply when it is clearly written in the post how to apply.
If you want a job teaching English, put some effort into it. Have a good applicant package that shows you off and tells a recruiter they would be crazy not to have you.
Do some research about who is hiring and what their requirements are… and then provide the things they are looking for!
Try reading ESL Job Search: How to be a Great Candidate Before Your Resume Even Gets Read for more ideas about how to be a great candidate.
4. You apply to jobs where you don’t meet the qualifications
A lot of people apply to jobs where they don’t meet the minimum standards, thinking maybe they will get lucky.
It’s not just in the ESL business, but also nearly every industry, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In the ESL industry mostly it doesn’t work.
We are not going to get into the native versus non native English speaker debate here, nor Chinese laws around degrees being required but those are the laws. So if you don’t have a degree or you have a Egyptian passport you’re not going to get a job on those platforms.
So stop wasting your time and getting rejected time and time again for a job you are never going to get.
Those platforms can’t hire you, they just can’t so there is no use applying.
Also while other platforms may not be bound by laws, they have requirements for a reason, whether it be their clients requirements, or just their choice. So read the requirements and see if you fit them.
And it might be worth doing some research yourself to find out which countries or platforms meet your requirements.
5. You think you deserve more pay or to succeed immediately
There are a lot of jobs where the pay is just miserable, but it’s like that in all industries, even doctors start on a low wage when they first start.
If you are just starting in the ESL industry it is likely you will get paid less, or maybe, if you have no experience you will not get jobs that pay more and require 2+ years of experience.
There are many people who would love to quit their professional jobs and learn a trade, but they just can’t because they can’t afford to live on apprentice wages.
You should have considered the same thing when you decided to teach English. You may have to take a lower paying job when you first start to get experience, or you may have to offer lower priced classes to get reviews and build up your clientele.
We know of some teachers who earn US$10 per hour for one company, and US$18+ bonuses for another company.
So there are five REAL reasons why you can’t get an online English teaching job, and ways that you can fix them.
Look at your resume objectively, watch some YouTube videos on how to create a great introduction video and make your own, and spend some time applying for relevant jobs with a great application package.
Good luck! We want you to find a job, and we hope these hints, while a little blunt, have actually helped you.
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