Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tefl Jobs: New Opportunities Listed Daily

I've added a TEFL jobs feed to the sidebar of this blog. This new feature is a good resource for current teachers thinking of making a change and also for those considering their first position overseas.

The five most recent jobs are displayed and updated regularly. Click on any of the links and a new tab or window will open that provides more details on each opening. Clicking on the main header, "Top EFL Teaching Jobs" should ideally take you to the raw feed with the latest 100 jobs. This works perfectly in Firefox but for whatever reason does not display correctly in Internet Explorer. Just one more reason to switch to Firefox.

Do Your Homework

Of course, I cannot endorse any of these jobs or vouch for their legitimacy. It's up to you to do the due diligence required as most people would regarding potential jobs in any industry. However, let me offer some advice regarding the whole TEFL job search process.

The old maxim about 80% of jobs never being advertised also applies within the TEFL industry. And the best positions are usually within that vast majority. The motivated individuals are the ones who do the research and find out which schools have the best reputations and offer the best salaries and benefits. When a rare opening comes up, the human resource department will have a stack of recent resumes and others on file. Or, just as likely, word of mouth will be enough to help put together a list of suitable candidates.

That doesn't mean very good jobs aren't advertised online or in other traditional places such as the want ads of local newspapers. Many reasonable opportunities crop up there as well and sometimes you do find a real gem. Also, the sub-culture in certain schools requires that all positions be advertised as widely as possible and some of those will be exceptional places to work. The question is, how do you know which jobs are worth applying for?

Google is Your Best Friend

Google did you meanThis is where research comes in. Do as much online digging as possible. Try to start with the official website of the institution (if in fact they have one.) While inevitably biased, there is information there that can assist you. If there is a staff page, make note of how long each teacher has been working there. The longer the better, of course.

Also, if there are accompanying e-mail addresses, fire off a few messages requesting information directly from those who have first hand experience. Most people aren't going to respond unless they have something good to say. On the other hand, you might find someone on the verge of leaving who is willing to be blunt or otherwise offer up a few insinuations to help you make a decision.

Do other searches as well. Input various combinations of the school name and different key words. This may dredge up discussion forum criticism or other vital information. And go directly to all the well known TEFL forums and search within their databases. Be aware, however, that more and more online discussion boards are censoring critiques of schools for fear of legal repercussions.

Just as importantly, compare the information you have acquired regarding individual schools against what you have learned about the standards of the particular country or region. Does an individual school offer wages far above or below the norm? Both could be warning signs.

Stated remuneration that seems "too good to be true" is a tough one to call. It simply may be the most prestigious school in the area offering a premium salary.

Beware the Recruiters

There are many legitimate recruiters who will help you to find a good position and then offer you support throughout the duration of your contract. They decent ones eliminate the need for dealing with backwards or difficult management at the school when it comes to issues such as contract renewal and timely payment of wages.

But remember that there are many dodgy recruiters who don't have your best interests in mind.

One thing to always consider regarding recruiters is that they are ultimately middle men who are taking a cut of your salary for providing their service. Some schools deal exclusively with these agents while others will hire directly as well. Almost always, a direct hire will earn more.

Try to discover what school a recruiter is representing before you start the application process. And then, approach the school directly. You may simply be redirected back to the recruiter but you may also be able to hammer out a deal with the school on your own terms.

Consider the Source

This hardly needs to be stated but I'll make the requisite warning about online information anyway. When you run across some harsh criticism of individual schools, keep in mind that the person who made the post may simply hold a grudge for whatever reason. However, multiple warnings and rants against the same place probably indicates a pattern.

Similarly, apparent danger signs might have a perfectly logical explanation. Lack of details in a job posting (for example, nothing about salary) is often a good reason to look elsewhere. On the other hand, many good universities don't discuss pay until the hiring process has begun. They may have been in existence for decades and stubbornly hold onto different practices just because that's the way they've always done it.

No matter how well-prepared you are, there is always some risk involved when accepting employment. However, a thorough and detailed investigation beforehand increases your chances of finding a rewarding and enjoyable position.

Good luck on your job search!

Edit: I recently took down the jobs feed (January 20th, 2011).


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