One thing that a lot of people don't consider when applying to teach abroad is flexibility. Aside from personality traits and qualifications, flexibility is one of the key things that recruiters will look for when going through the list of candidates they've received.
This is not just because a more flexible candidate will be easier to place, but for a whole number of reasons. We'll go into them in this article, and you'll learn exactly how to send your application straight to the top of the pile.
Flexibility On Country And City
Many people are only willing to work in one particular country. While this CAN be beneficial to you if you're able to demonstrate clear reasons for choosing that country, it's also going to hinder you in getting your application viewed faster.
Imagine you're a TEFL recruiter. You've got positions available in multiple countries around the world, or in a particular continent like Asia. You receive dozens of applications every day, and you need to sort them into various countries of choice, then drill them down into cities of choice.
Which applicants do you think will make it to the interview stage first? The ones who only want to go to one particular city, or the ones who are more open to placement in numerous locations?
Of course, you DO need to have reasons for being flexible and have knowledge on all your potential countries (and cities where possible). Simply being "not fussed" isn't going to go over very well.
Your suitability for placement in multiple countries is not the only reason to consider here either. Recruiters know from experience that the more flexible you are, the more likely you are to be suitable to a job in a foreign country. Living abroad requires flexibility.
If you absolutely have your heart set on one particular place to go though, don't worry too much. Recruiters will always try to place you in a position that you'll love and will be likely to accept. In most cases you will still get your first choice.
Being willing to go elsewhere will make it much more likely that your first choice is considered though, as you will be significantly higher up the list.
What Ages Will You Teach?
Recruiters dread having a candidate who will only teach a particular age group. Often they are a perfect fit for a job, it's in the city of their choice, they are available to start right away, but there's only one problem; the majority of students that will be taught are too young or old.
In a lot of cases these candidates don't have a great amount of experience with that particular group either, they would just rather avoid it due to various reasons or perceptions they have.
If you're one of those candidates who just wants to teach, and doesn't mind the age group, you're going to get a big tick next to your name right off the bat.
Again, this doesn't just make you available for a much wider range of jobs, it also shows that you're more open-minded and adaptable. In many cases people who insist on one thing or another in terms of their teaching position will not be the most suitable candidates anyway.
Flexibility On Hours
Most people will take whatever hours are given to them, and that's great. A lot of TEFL jobs are not particularly exhausting in terms of their workloads anyway. However, this is still something you need to demonstrate that you're flexible on.
As well as your hours, you shouldn't demand a particular salary or wage. Obviously you'll have your expectations and ideal income, but it doesn't always work out like that (and there are many other aspects of a job to consider besides income).
You'll always be able to review a salary or pay rate before accepting a contract, but let your recruiters know that you are flexible on this and you will get a lot more offers. This often leads to you getting the best offers!
You can't always be flexible on this, you might have current work commitments that you need to finish, notice to serve, and so on. As you might have guessed by now though, the more flexible you are on this, the more positions will come your way. It can be quite common that you are offered a job in the very near future, as positions can unexpectedly become available.
It's always better to be able to start "As soon as possible" as it means your application will find its way to the front very quickly.
If you've combined this with the above points as well, you could find a job in no time.
The Unknown Factor
Sometimes people will list a particular city or country when applying, but will then do more research or will find out more about the particular jobs in that country/city and change their mind.
For example, people might be more interested in going to a capital city straightaway, only to change their minds once they've realized they can save double the money living slightly outside the capital. Having to re-apply or let a recruiter know that you've changed your mind (and thus appear indecisive in the process) isn't exactly ideal. If you were flexible in the first place, things like this could be avoided.
This unknown factor is something that you just can't really prepare for in advance, as it's unknown!
A Tale Of Two Applications
To really let you get to grips with how flexibility can help you, even when you've got your heart set on one location, let's look at this hypothetical tale of two different candidates.
The first candidate is Bob, who really wants to go to Taipei. On his application he clearly states that he's only interested in Taipei.
The second candidate is Dave. He's not as insistent about Taipei, although it's his first choice. His application is almost virtually the same as Bob's, except that he states he's happy to work anywhere in Taiwan.
The recruiter going over the applications sets up an interview with Dave first, as he's clearly the more useful candidate to have "ready to roll". Bob is scheduled for an interview later in the week.
Dave's application goes very well and the next day a position suddenly becomes available in Taipei. The recruiter gets back in touch with him, the process is started, and a few weeks later Dave is on the plane to Taipei while Bob is still waiting for the next position to become available, having only just completed his interview.
If Bob had been more flexible, he might well have landed that Taipei gig anyway.
In conclusion, you should realize that being more flexible doesn't mean you'll have to go somewhere you don't want to. What it DOES mean is that you'll have more options, be processed much faster, and may well end up deciding to go somewhere else anyway!
If you want to stand out and open doors faster, this is something you MUST consider and show on your application as well. Remember not to make your flexibility look like ambivalence though.
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