sWhen applying for any job, you must put your best foot forward. You may be the ideal candidate for a position, but careless errors in job applications can cost you dearly. It’s a good idea to assume that any position you apply for will be highly competitive. What will you do to stand out if a hiring manager deals with hundreds of applicants to whittle down to a select few for an interview? To begin, make sure you avoid the following common blunders when applying for TEFL jobs!
Not following the instructions for applying.
This may seem obvious, but any hiring manager will tell you how common it is to receive applications from people who need to read the application instructions. Do you need to send a CV/resume and cover letter, or can you fill out an application form? Is there anything specific you need to attach? Should documents or emails be labelled in a particular way?
Your application will only be accepted if you demonstrate an ability to follow instructions. Take your time reading them… and then reread them!
Proofread your application.
Another obvious one, but given that spelling and grammatical errors in applications is a dealbreaker for nearly 80% of hiring managers, it needs to be mentioned.
And this is especially true when applying for jobs teaching English. It will not reflect well on your abilities as an English teacher if your application is riddled with typos, so make sure you proofread everything thoroughly before submitting it.
Attaching a cover letter.
Is there no cover letter? If all you’ve submitted is a CV/resume, there’s a 99% chance the hiring manager won’t even look at your application. There may be a lot of competition for TEFL jobs, so you must make yours stand out, and one of the best ways to do so is with a strong cover letter. Your CV/resume details your experience and qualifications, whereas the cover letter lets you sell yourself and explain why you want the job you’re applying for. And this leads to the following error people make.
Tailoring the cover letter.
A hiring manager can immediately tell if a cover letter is one-size-fits-all. Of course, some parts of a cover letter will be reused, but each should be tailored to the role and employer. It should show that you’ve read the job description and researched the company – putting in the effort here can help your application stand out.
Applying for a job in a country where you don’t meet the visa requirements
One of the most important things you can do at the start of your TEFL journey, even before enrolling in a TEFL course, is to research visa requirements. Some countries require teachers to have a degree, while others require a passport from an English-speaking country and a clean criminal background check.
Visa requirements are rigid; there’s no wiggle room if you don’t meet them. Don’t waste your time applying for jobs in countries where you can’t legally work. Instead, focus on those where you can.
There are scammers and unethical recruiters who will claim they can get you a job even if you are not visa eligible. Please don’t put your faith in them.
Applying for TEFL jobs you’re not qualified for
If a job requires several years of teaching experience and you’ve only recently obtained your TEFL certificate, you won’t be able to meet that requirement. Employers typically seek full-time experience teaching English as a foreign language rather than experience tutoring or teaching a different subject.
Only use your time applying for a TEFL job if you do meet an employer’s requirements. However, there may be times when contacting the employer for clarification is necessary. For example, it’s not uncommon to see advertisements that state that being a native speaker is required, even in countries where visa requirements don’t apply to non-native speakers. Many of these employers will consider anyone with a native level of English as long as you can demonstrate it. It’s worth inquiring if you meet the visa requirements and the other criteria outlined in the job description.
You are not providing proof of English proficiency if you’re a non-native speaker.
Due to native speakers in the TEFL industry, non-native teachers may have more difficulty finding TEFL jobs than their native counterparts.
If you are not a native English speaker, it is critical that a hiring manager can immediately see that your English is of a high level. And the simplest way to do so is with an English proficiency certificate.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your TEFL certificate is proof of proficiency. It’s not. If you have not received formal education in an English-speaking country, we strongly advise obtaining an English proficiency certificate such as the IELTS or C2 Proficiency. Non-native speakers may only get interviews for teaching jobs if they have one.
I am attaching a photo.
You may be from a country where including a photo of yourself in a job application is frowned upon. However, this is only sometimes the case, which is standard when applying for TEFL jobs abroad. So, while it may feel unnatural or even wrong, include one if requested, or if it’s the norm in the county you’re applying for jobs in (do your research!).
Our best advice is to avoid using a passport photo. Who has ever looked good in a passport photo? Instead, choose one that conveys a friendly, approachable, and professional teacher.