If you've been applying for ESL jobs for some time and not been having any success, it can be an incredibly frustrating ordeal. In most cases, you probably didn't receive any direct feedback from the schools or recruitment agencies either.
It's not always practical, or wise, for schools to explain why an application has been rejected, which means that you can end up making the same mistakes over and over again. Believe it or not, there are some common reasons why people don't get chosen, and people that would make excellent teachers are often overlooked simply because of something wrong with their application.
The following 5 tips are based on some of those common reasons for rejected applications, and are designed to help you stand out from the crowd. 5 simple changes to your application can make a huge amount of difference.
Check You Meet The Hiring Requirements
Sounds obvious doesn't it? You'd be surprised by the amount of people who don't seem to check this though. Common requirements are that you're a native English speaker, holding a passport from one of the following countries: The United Kingdom, The United States, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, Canada. This is not an issue of school preference, but visa acceptability. Many governments will only offer work permits to English teachers from those countries, so it's not negotiable.
Additionally, do you have a University degree? It doesn't necessarily have to be related to teaching, but it's still a requirement in many countries, just like nationality. Again, it depends on the job and the country you're applying for, so make sure you check this.
Finally, many schools require a TEFL or CELTA qualification before considering your application. You can sometimes still apply while studying for your teaching qualification, as long as you ensure that you finish it.
Get Better Qualified
Following up on the last point, the more qualified you are, the more employable you are. While many schools don't require any previous experience from their candidates, more and more of them require a CELTA or Trinity cert TESOL. In some situations a TEFL certificate is enough, but if you have a CELTA, your application will be moved higher up the pile.
It's simply a case of practicality for recruiters and schools. Start with the higher qualified candidates, and work your way down. As a rough guideline, aim for a MINIMUM of a TEFL certification, and if you are getting rejected often, consider studying a CELTA.
First Impressions Count!
Imagine your application is like going on a first date. Many applications require a photo. Don't underestimate this! Choose the most professional photo you have, and definitely don't go for something casual. You'd be amazed at some of the photos that get sent in with applications, and it's the first sign recruiters look for when filtering their applications. Don't be unshaven, don't be in the pub or on the beach, and definitely look like you care about your application. Remember, you're applying to be a teacher.
On top of the photo, the language you use and the communication style you adopt is going to be analyzed heavily by the recruiters. Try not to use informal expressions, make sure your grammar is correct, and as an extra tip, don't forward the same application to 20 different schools and expect them to take you seriously.
Show that you've researched each position and company, and tailor your emails, cover letters and application forms accordingly. Show that you are a good person, who is easy to get along with, follows instructions, and knows how to speak good English.
Keep Your CV Simple And On Point
Many recruiters and schools get 200-300 CVs daily. Obviously they'll need to glance over them quickly before highlighting which ones to review further. Make their job easier by keeping things simple and to the point. If it's not clear immediately what your relevant qualifications, experience levels, and key data (D.O.B, Nationality, Degree title) are, you might get passed over.
Imagine you are the recruiter, imagine what they want to see, and tailor your CV to make it easy for them to find. Good, simple structure is key too.
Many places will say experience is not necessary, so think how much your application will stand out if you DO have experience. People recruiting for positions that involve young-learners are going to be much more comfortable selecting a candidate with experience working with children than one without.
Go and volunteer at your local school, you don't necessarily have to teach them (although this is a big plus), but explain that you want some experience working with kids for your CV, and see what they come up with. There are also many clubs such as Scouts, or after school clubs that might be looking for volunteers. It doesn't have to be a year-long commitment, but your CV will look a lot more impressive with some experience on it.
You'll benefit massively from the experience too.
As I mentioned, it doesn't require a huge effort to make yourself more employable. Following all, or some of the tips above will put you in a great position. If you ever have any doubt about an application, do as much research as possible.
The one thing you don't want to do is just type up a CV, make a standard cover-letter, and fire it off to as many schools as possible. If that DOES yield you a result, chances are it's not going to be anywhere near the best position on the market.