8 Mistakes to Avoid When Applying to EFL Teaching Jobs
In this blog post, we will look at 8 common mistakes made by applicants in their applications for ESL teaching positions.
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We are going to look at eight of the biggest mistakes to avoid when applying for an ESL teaching job.
1. Follow the instruction given about how to apply
Not following the instructions for applying is definitely a common thing and it is understandable why this happens. Applicants are obviously excited to apply for jobs that will allow them to go abroad to teach and we can get caught up in the moment and lose concentration. You can just get so excited and you don't read the job offer properly and you don't follow the instructions exactly. Hiring managers constantly receive applications from people who clearly haven't paid attention to the instructions for applying. This could be that you apply in a different way than they actually stated in their job offer. Some examples could be; you are not sending it to the correct email address, you are not using the correct subject line details, you are not using the correct file format or whatever it may be. These are things you need to think about because recruiters (according to studies) only take an average of six seconds to scan a resume, this is a very short amount of time and if there is something that's not right that's not perfect your application is just going to go into the trash pile.
Sometimes you have to send a CV or resume and/or cover letter, or you have to fill out an application form instead. Sometimes we see that it will clearly state, send your CV and cover letter as two documents, and send your documents to this email or that email. They may say please apply via our website and then there'll be a link to a form, so make sure you read that correctly and you follow those instructions. Also you should check about; do you need to attach any specific documents, and the last one is should documents or emails be titled a certain way. Sometimes they may tell that you have to title your documents that you attach in a certain way or that you should upload them in a certain way and in a particular file format. Also the email subject line, sometimes you need to put in the job title or other keywords.
Also be aware that there are other forms of application which may not be by direct email. For example on Facebook you may see an instruction dm your documents to this email address, so this was actually on Facebook and this means send by Facebook direct message you can direct message your documents your application or email this email address. Other things you might see are; scan the QR code or apply through WeChat. Make sure you read all the information correctly and follow the instructions as applying this is a very important step and if you already messed with that your application will not be considered.
2. Proofread your Application before sending
Again you need to take your time and proofread your application, this is very important because you are applying to be an English teacher, so it is not going to look good if you have typos or grammar mistakes, or any kind of spelling mistakes in there.
Use a grammar or spell checker such as Grammarly, which can do both. They (at the time of writing this article) have a free version. Also get someone else to read through your application documents because you might be in a tunnel vision and have not spotted any mistakes, but if you just have an outsider look at the application they are going to look at it with fresh eyes and they might be able to spot some mistakes that you might not be able to see.A couple of other tips from proofreaders are to do the following;
First, read your resume backwards. This is one of the best techniques to pick up mistakes as you pay closer attention to the details. Just by changing the order of the written material like this it gives a fresh look to the information and is easier to spot errors.
Secondly, try reading your resume aloud. Most of us just read in our head when looking at the laptop but if you try and read it out loud you concentrate better and you can actually hear how it sounds which helps you pick out errors.
3. Not attaching a cover letter.
If you don't attach a cover letter it is almost certain that a hiring manager won't even glance at your application, so don’t just submit a CV or resume. The cover letter is very important; it is basically the letter in which you sell yourself right away. Why you are a good choice for this job, where you can also show your personality. In a cover letter you can talk a little bit more about yourself, whereas a resume is more like a list format of your life and your background. In the cover letter you can really show like who you are as a person and your personality, so that's why it's very important. You need to make sure that you stand out with your cover letter, as there can be lots of competition for EFL jobs, and one of the best ways of doing that is with a strong cover letter.
A cover letter typically starts with a header with your name and your contact information that is also very important some people also forget the contact information. Put your email address and your phone number up there. If you have a professional website you might want to put that up there too. Then we have an opening paragraph that should grab the reader's attention. Next we have body paragraph where you should expand on your qualifications. Paragraph three should be focused on connecting with the company and then we have a closing paragraph, a call to action and gratitude. Thank them in advance for taking the time and then close with yours sincerely and your name and your signature.
4. Not addressing the letter to a person.
The fourth mistake we will mention is directly related to the last one. Almost as bad as not sending a cover letter is sending one that has not been written for the specific job you are applying for.
You must tailor your cover letter for the particular job application you are making. Most people will probably search online for sample ESL job cover letters or templates and obviously you don't want to use just those by copy and pasting them and then send them off to your potential employer. Most hiring managers receive hundreds of applications per day and with cover letters and it's pretty obvious when it's a template or an example cover letter because they're usually broader and they don't go into too much detail. You need to make sure that if you do use a template or example cover letter or resume that you find online, that you tailor it to the job and the school or the company that you are applying for.
Using a template just shows that you put very little effort into your job application showing you might not take it serious enough. You can use some parts of a cover letter sample but each one you send should be tailored to the role and the employer, so mix and match with caution. Add details specific to you such as skills and qualifications and if possible show a little bit of your personality.
Try to use the sort of use the words that they use in their job offer, certain keywords because when they read the cover letter those kind of words stand out to them because that's their own words and their own language. It makes sense also check out their website and look for any of those keywords or special words that they use how they describe their company, how they describe their employees that already work there their work climate.
5. Applying in a country where you don't meet the requirements.
When we think about teaching English abroad we usually already have an idea of where we want to go, which country or continent. Typically we want to go somewhere that interests us. Make sure before you start your entire process, to research the visa requirements in the country or countries where you want to go.
One of the most important things you can do at the beginning of your ESL journey and even before you take a TEFL or TESOL course is to research the visa requirements in the places of interest to you. Visa requirements are not flexible and there is no way around them. For example in South Korea to be an English teacher you need to get an E-2 visa which is the English teacher visa. To get this visa you need to be a citizen and national of one of seven countries, Canada, USA, Eire, UK, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
If you're not a citizen of one of those countries you cannot actually be a teacher in South Korea. You would be wasting your time applying for jobs in countries where you can't get a visa. Focus instead on those countries where you can legally work. You should be aware that the requirements often change, so check the information is current.
As part of your employment search, make sure that the company offering the job gives some sort of visa assistance, to help you with the process, which can be quite intimidating in some countries.
You will find many sites on the internet dedicated to visa requirements for work in all countries.
6. Applying for a job you're not qualified for.
Read the requirements carefully for the job offer and if you clearly don't meet the criteria set out by the employer, then don't waste your time applying. If however, something is not clear or you want to make sure about something, for example if they require certain years of experience, or a particular certificate you can always get in touch with the employer for clarity.
There are many job adverts that have a long list of requirements and many hiring managers see this as a wish list. If you believe you can do the job and you are a good match, save for one or two things on a long list, then you may wish to go for it. Be realistic if the long list requires a degree for example and you don’t have one, then you are probably wasting your time. If the list says five years experience and you have four and a half, then go for it. If there is a long list of requirements and let's say you fulfill 90 percent then of course go for it.
The requirements for a job in some countries often include criteria which are needed in order to obtain a legal work permit. If the job requires that you are from an English speaking country, whether you agree with this criteria or not is irrelevant and you will be rejected immediately if you are not.
7. Not providing proof of English proficiency if you're a non-native speaker.
This is specifically for non-native teachers. If you're not a native English speaker it is really important that a hiring manager is able to instantly see that your English is of a high enough level for the job. The easiest way to do that is by attaching a certificate of English proficiency.
There are many different English proficiency certificates out there, but it's most important that you don't make the mistake of assuming that your TEFL or TESOL qualification is a proof of English proficiency because it isn't. A TEFL or TESOL certificate proves that you know something about how to teach English but it's different than an English proficiency certificate. This is confusing as the names of some proficiency exams are very similar to TEFL, TOEFL for example.
If you haven't received formal education in an English-speaking country then it is strongly recommended securing an English proficiency certificate like the IELTS or any other, exam proving C2 level proficiency or equivalent. Even if they don't state this in their job requirements, that you need to provide that proof of proficiency, if you are a non-native English speaker, you should attach that anyway.
8. Not attaching a photo.
Attaching a photo to a resume might actually be considered wrong in your home country, many European countries or Western countries stopped doing that a long time ago. But not attaching a photo is still considered very important in many other countries, especially for English teaching abroad. You must make sure that you include one if it's requested.
Consider what makes a good photo. If you're not familiar with resume photos the first thing you need to know is that it isn't the same as a passport photo. Whilst for a passport photo it is suggested that you do not smile, for a resume photo you should use one that really conveys a teacher who is friendly approachable and professional. So basically this is like a Linkedin photo if you're familiar with that. Some general rules of thumb, could include,
a. Place the photo on the first page in the top one third of the paper. This will help the visual impact of the photo and not distract from important information later down the C.V or resume.b. Dress as a professional. Have a look at some photos from the school website if possible to get a feel for the dress standards expected of teachers and students. Are the teachers all wearing formal outfits such as blazers and ties or shirt, blouse and blazer for example?c. Look friendly. It seems obvious but we are used to taking passport photos where we are not supposed to smile, your photo in this case however should emphasize warmth and friendliness. Try not to overdo it however which can actually be worse than not smiling at all.d. Use a non-distracting background. A plain single colour background works best so as not to take away from your photo. As you would typically only be showing your head and shoulders this does not need to be a large or expensive set up.
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