Teacher employer etiquette

All we're asking for is a reply

Dear Teacher Employers,

If you can't be bothered reading this e-mail, then please go straight to the last paragraph.

I am a qualified teacher and have worked in Thailand for the past 10 years. In my university years, I graduated in the top 1% of teachers in Western Australia. In-between working for a Thai school for those 10 years I worked for agencies, small ESL schools and did private tutorial work. Never with a complaint or problem from an employer or a student.

If you have received this email, it is probably because I have done the hard work of researching your school and customising a cover letter and resume. I write this e-mail only because for all the work I have put into an application to your school, never to receive an acknowledgement or even an automated response is pretty shoddy, not to mention unprofessional. There are several other 'reputable' schools I have omitted in the address bar because their schools had web form applications and thus no email addresses.

An email from employers saying 'thank you for your application but...' would at least be polite rather than for the application to just go completely ignored. Now you are thinking... 'But we receive so many applications, how could we?'. True or untrue, even an automated thank you for an application would do the reputation of your school a good service. To paraphrase a saying - 'a happy teacher tells his colleagues about his experience with a school. An unhappy teacher will tell EVERYONE about that school'.

Maybe it's because I am currently back in Australia that I am thinking too much about my experiences in Thailand? I don't know... There has been a trend in recent years in the name of cost cutting to hire 'non-native speakers' (yes there are many good teachers in this group but they dont get paid as much) or hire unqualified or under qualified English teachers. But you get what you pay for. Of the 30 teaching jobs I have applied for in the past month and a half, I have had three responses - and from those three responses, I have had two interviews and a job offer which I turned down as it turned out to be with an agency which after some research, I felt would be unsuitable.

I feel it is just unprofessional that if someone well qualified for an advertised job takes the time to research the job and your school then you as an employer, should have the courtesy (manners) to acknowledge that application even if the applicant may not be right person for the job (even an automated one would be good).

I love Thailand and I have built a life, raised a family and made many friends over a 10-year period. But if Thailand's schools want to become leaders in education (you may think your school is the big fish in the pond, but there are many ponds) it has to appreciate that there are many well qualified and dedicated individuals applying to your schools for work who would rather be told 'no thank you' if they are not suitable rather than just be left waiting and not knowing where they stand. Remember, like your school, the teachers are professionals and deserve to be treated as such. China, Japan, Korea and the rest of Asia are calling....

Politeness is one of the core qualities of Thai culture. So should it be with its employers.

John Dixon


Once again, a simple reply indicating you received my information, yes even an "auto-reply" can be considered polite!
***Incidentally, if your an emplyment agent/agency and do not have time to acknowledge a C/V, resume' and or inquiry, remind yourself to re-read your job description. At that point you may want to become a client and fine yourself a new job,

By Mitch, Phuket (5 years ago)

An automated email or mass response to unsuccessful applicants would take a few minutes to set up and once this is set up, it would take a company five minutes say once a week to BCC all unsuccessful applicants into one email (click-select, reply to all, send) and this can be re-used for future openings. I suppose it would tell a lot about a company and whether they are worth working for though - common courtesy is all!

By Jay, Bangkok, Thailand (5 years ago)

"Not only do we not have the time to reply to every applicant, but we most certainly don’t have the time to reply to people “just looking for information”.

I'm totally on James' side with this. People just don't realize how time-consuming it is to type out lengthy answers to those who are just 'looking for information'

In my case - running the ajarn website - I just don't have the time. I'm simply not in the business of providing a personal consultancy I'm afraid. If I answered every question sent to me, I wouldn't have time to update the website. That's simply the way it is.

I guarantee that the answer to every question is on the website already in some shape or form and it's very often 'pure laziness' or an unwillingness to spend the necessary length of time on research that prevents someone finding the answer.

It's very easy to criticize and say "well, a short answer is better than no answer" but how can you provide a short answer to someone who sends you a bullet point list of nigh on 20 questions?

By philip, Bangkok (5 years ago)

Comment removed at owner's request

By Sam, Denmark (5 years ago)

Not only do we not have the time to reply to every applicant, but we most certainly don't have the time to reply to people "just looking for information".

If you want information, then use a search engine. Try google. Type in "teach in Thailand" - you'll find all the information you need there.

Good luck!

By James, Bangkok (5 years ago)

Comment removed at owner's request

By Sam, Denmark (5 years ago)

I am frequently in the business of hiring teachers and respond to all applications. But you would not believe the abuse I receive from some people when I inform them, as politely as I can, that they have been unsuccessful.

One man sent me a thundering e-mail, all in upper case, demanding to know what more he should have included in his resume (apart from the fact that he likes making Tiffany lamps and has spent years looking after his blind and aging parents, and had been a US air marshal - highly relevant information for someone applying for a position as an English teacher) to have been successful.

Another said the professional approach was to ignore and not respond to unsucessful applicants, called me totally unprofessional and unfit to hold my position, and threatened to seek out my manager and have me sacked. I e-mailed him back with the name and telephone number of the managing director of my college to facilitate his threat, but that was the last I heard of him.

By David Brown, Rayong (5 years ago)

those words above, is that an implication your teaching in a real society or a society that needs white puppets ? Thailand and education should not, and do not belong in the same sentence ! Try reading the Minsitry of Ed results on the national exam

By Kanadian, the real world (5 years ago)

I do agrss with your above article. When I look for teachers I try to respons to everyone that rights AS long as they meet the qualifications that I have stated in my position request. I state exactly what I am looking for and what qualifications they need to have such as Teaching Degree in elementary with at least 3 years teaching experience from their home country , also from native English Speaking country. I get many people who do not come close to these requirement. So I do not feel that I need to reply to these people.

By T.LB, Bkk (5 years ago)

This thread has become an entertaining diversion to my otherwise busy life. It sums up the problem I have with working in the Thai academic system. The heart of the matter appears to be (from the English teachers to the institutions that employ them) an inability to assume any kind of personal responsibility.

If you are an English teacher, you need to show an understanding of basic grammatical constructions. If you have a problem understanding that concept then you really need to get a proper degree.

If you are employing an English teacher; write clearly, stating the requirements for the position - ask one of the teachers to proof read your standard e-mail responses.

The irony of reading badly written comments, moaning about the situation, is wearing thin.

The product you are all selling is the English language - know what you are selling. Should any English teachers need a crash course in English grammar, I will be in Bangkok in January lecturing at several universities. I would be happy to give you a refresher course.

Kindest regards.

Tristan Verran

By Tristan, London UK (5 years ago)

I guess there's no point scrutinizing grammar usage here. After all, readers here aren't students. Spoken and written English language are different, I know . But in a comment corner like this..who cares if you mix them up? What may seem unpleasant to someone out there is his own personal issue.

To Tristan, BKK: I think it's proper to suggest to write an article about your issue if you think it can help improve the applicant - employer etiquette or so.

By Chel, Rayong (5 years ago)

Just a brief reaction on this article. I agree with the writer of this article. Most applicants sending their applications look forward to hearing from employers. A simple "thank you" reply; no matter what culture we have and race we belong would be a great consolation. How we deal with applications reflects the image of our schools.

On the other hand, I feel the same with other employers who have contacted some bragging qualified applicants with quite nicely presented resumes ended up no show during the time of interviews and didn't even care to send an email to inform that they're no longer interested with the job offered.Thus, it really sucks when you have set aside other appointments to give way to interviews and they don't show up at all.

On the applicants point of view, I believe it's a must that they read the ad carefully and have to make sure they meet the requirements before sending their applications to avoid frustrations about their applications.

By Chel, Rayong (5 years ago)

It's true to say that foreigners are not respected at all in the Thai system, we are indeed second class citizens. It is also true to state that the standard of English presented in these comments is appalling.

Subject-verb agreement?
Correct use of the adverbial form?

Perhaps, because the Thai education system is so racist, the only English teachers willing to teach in Thailand, are those who cannot produce clear English.

Just a thought...

By Tristan, Bangkok (5 years ago)

Just a quick anecdote. I was in charge of hiring teachers for a school's English department. I had a guy lined up to come in for an interview on a Saturday morning. We'd been in touch by phone and email. He was a no show, and no phone call. I quickly hired someone else. A month later, the first guy called to ask if there was still a position available. I pretended I didn't know who he was, told him the slot was filled weeks ago, and hung up on him.

For what it's worth, politeness works both ways. When it comes to dealing with other "falang," I don't expect to be dealing with an immature Thai.

By jim, doha (5 years ago)

i read many nonsense here regarding how and why we employers do not turn back all the applications. All of them are bs i am sorry. Like we always get an answer always on time!!!
First of all, we are dealing with many teachers and many of them do not turn back to us as well! You email with the guy 100 times for months and he supposed to come here and than suddenly no response bc they guy finds a job somehwere and do not even bother to send us an email and inform us about it!!! So, do we complain about it, no!!!
Or, they apply and you send them a response back and you never hear from them!!!
Second, i always state in my adds like what are our requirements and also state: 'Apllicants who cannot meet our requirements will not be responded."
However, we still receive many applications from people do not meet our criterias and it is our right not giving them any answer. So, if someone does not have brains to read and understand an add, it is wise not giving them any answer if you look from employer point of view.
But, we always turn back to the applicants who in meet our requirments.

By KD, Bangkok (5 years ago)

We usually acknowledge applications that match our requirements. My most recent experience is the following: out of more than 150 applications not even 10% did match the requirements. e.g. Business Studies and Business English are two different things...
In other words 90% of them have never heard anything from us. Good manners start with reading an ad carefully enough in order to avoid a waste of time for both parties!

By Bernard Deham, Chonburi (5 years ago)

There's now law here, it's Thailand. They can change everything on papers, you just need to accept and live with it. Cohk di krap.

By john, Bangkok (5 years ago)

What ever your definition of politeness or professional courtesy does not apply here in Thailand. Thais are not polite by international standards. But thats ok , because all Thais are not polite amongst themselves, and therefore its accepted because its their standard, its the norm. What foreigners fail to understand that Thais live in Thailand, thats all they care about, thats all they know, which is perfectly reasonable given that the vast majority never even has the slightest motive to go travel outside of Thailand or SE Asia.

If you try to be "internationally polite" to a Thai, they won't even think twice about it because in their daily life 97% of the time they never receive that kind of reception. So your "politeness" is the anomaly not the standard.

Also, you have to think about mental and physical exertion. Thais don't like to exert themselves outside of what is directly needed. So in your case what is easier:
1) Delete email. (easy, sabai sabai)
2) Reply, write "sorry, blah blah blah", send. (nope, takes too much effort, I'd rather not, haha)

And also, you have to remind yourselves that Thais avoid confrontation at all costs. Rejection is a confrontation that Thais like to avoid if they can. And in the case of emailing a rejection letter, it is easily avoidable.

Of course everything is a generalization here, a broad assertion on this nation. But you have to generalize when speaking of Thailand because its such a closely knit country. Its not a multicultural society, its a uni-cultural society with deep imbedded single thought processes.

If you take your international brain and expectations out of the equation, everything makes perfect normal sense.

By Steve, Chiang Mai (5 years ago)

man you think you got it bad int the UK and US come to Australia - run by neo cons

By Stephen, Australia (5 years ago)

I agree with the above - enough said - please reply thailand hehehe
I am not sure - though I think there is perhaps no TRUST in foreigners. It may be there are so many applicants they can just pick and choose. I have read too, that if you are not in Thailand then not to expect a reply.
It may well be a difference in cultural mores.
Yes, it is polite in Western culture to acknowledge people at some level - even if it requires effort. Well, it may be they do not want to say no to foreigners - you know saving face of others.
One thing is for sure it will not and can not change it is almost a case of cultural dissonance on both sides in what is appropriate behaviour.
I do know that the concept of 'sanuk' is one example, that many falangs find difficult to reconcile with academic study - and of course there are deeper issues of face (as alluded to earlier) shyness - that affect more congenial intercutltural interactions.
I think one of the more glaring examples of cultural dissonance is who the onus of learning lies with - it seems that the rote style of learning - puts the teacher at center stage - hence, if things are not working in Thailand they look to uping the anty in terms of qualificatons that foreigners are expected to have as if that will be the panacea for their learning difficulties.

I often give the analogy of Vietnam when (trying to depict teaching in Thailand) or indeed cultural differences - In 1994 there were traffic lights - a cross walk and a policeman directing traffic and yes he looked and dressed like a policmen - even an English bobby - whistle and apparel.

The point is that the traffic lights did not work - nobody used the cross walk - and the whistle was used in sharp repetitive bursts. Quite funny if one can step outside of what we consider to be normal. In another sense I admired the fact they were doing their best to emulate some the Western norms.

And so it is of Schools in thailand it seems - all the trappings but not a lot of substance - like a hollywood set. So, it does not surprise me that they hear words like degree, masters etc and latch on to them like guchi handbags thinking well this is what defines success.

I don't think the perception of Thais doing or not doing something would be served by saying they are borne of something sinister - they just dont know better. And I am sure we foreigners have many annoying habits too. Perhaps a case of what is normal in one culture is not normal in another.

There is chance that in a rather insular society the Thais in their quest to be more western - driven largely by the conquest of the English language - its spread ecetera that they misinterpret the path to do so. One example, would be thinking that if they spend more money on their chidlren they will become prodigies, only to realise that money can not buy everything. It is a bit like an English lady I knew who screamed when a guekko entered our bungalow so she moved to the more expensive bungalow - ten minutes later heheh another scream. The point is guekos don't recognise how much money we spend.

Now it is 3.46am heheh and i know I have rambled on - but hopefully make someone laugh and hopefully said something relevant eheheh

In sum, though cultural differences abound and English teaching in Thailand has made them marked indeed.

chug di khap hehehe

By Stephen, Australia (5 years ago)

To Markc, BKK. No not kidding, but I think I am kidding myself now. Just wasting my time trying. I will enjoy my break and not offer my experience anymore. I just do not know what is wrong with these people when a lot of them are crying out to learn our beautiful language, enjoyed by so many. Very sad.

By Simon, Sungai Kolok (5 years ago)

"We regret that we are only able to contact applicants who are selected for an interview." says it all really. Understand this, and you understand why you don't receive a reply.

Try to understand that YOU might think that you're qualified for the position, but this doesn't necessarily mean that the Director of Studies does (some applicants are simply deluded and others are OVER QUALIFIED for a particular vacancy/school/students).

By James, Bangkok (5 years ago)

I agree with Roylan, it's like a raffle. I came hear to have a break from practicing law. I have a masters and a bachelors. You apply to these people who advertise here and nothing from them.
Tired of them, yet they say Thailand is crying out for NES. Time to turn my back on them and return to help others

By Simon, Sungai Kolok (5 years ago)

Andy Scoopman.

Man, you think you got it bad in the UK.

Come to the US!

By Martin Jones, Thailand (5 years ago)

The level of response to job applications is probably worse in the UK. There seems to be some weird kind of phobia amongst English heads to replying to applicants, it's beyond inefficiency. I have never found it in any other industry, and I have experience of a few . But in the teaching profession it is standard to remain unresponsive. Even before email, this seemed to be the standard response to an unsuccessful applicant, if overwork was a reason, it would seem that this is no longer valid as it takes only minutes to email a whole cohort of applicants, especially here in Thailand where secretaries are abundant. I think the problem is a deep rooted trend amongst the teaching profession, choosing not to acknowledge an applicant is better than sending them bad news, and to some extent this reflects the weakness of the British education system. Choosing to gloss over weaknesses in learning may serve to weaken pupils not strengthen them. Sometimes we all just need to know where we stand; kids included.

By Andy Scoopman, Thailand (5 years ago)

I am sure you will get over it, the school obviously found someone who does the job they require.

By Adam, Bangkok (5 years ago)

Sometimes my name gets drawn 6 months to a year later. I have to reply and tell them the raffle is already closed.

By MarkC, BKK (5 years ago)

Yes ... "Amazing Thailand"

After sending a resume ... them poooof ... it is like you drop your resume in a raffle box then waiting for your name to be called ... hahaha

By Roylan Rivera, Thailland (5 years ago)

Here's the opposite of this blog: http://www.ajarn.com/ajarn-street/postbox/the-abcs-of-not-securing-a-job/

By AJ, Thailand (5 years ago)

I agree in some respects, but then again, would you want to work for people that don't have the manners to acknowledge your application? Maybe they are doing you a favour. In addition, if the recruiter does not have the savvy to include 'only shortlisted candidates will be contacted' in the body of the advert, would you be happy to work for them? It's natural selection to the benefit of both sides.

By Chris, Cambodia (5 years ago)

The writer stated that an automated response is ok. I suspect he wants to make sure he actually sent the mail to the right address. Likely, you'd have an address specifically for recruiting purposes rather than using a personal email.

A simple automated response saying something like:

" XXX School has received your application and will review it as soon as possible."

This would at least let the applicant know it made it there without ANY extra work on the part of the employer.

By Bill, Bangkok (5 years ago)

Hired by an agency as a temporary teacher, they didn't pay me!
Is this Thailand? No Thailand is much better.
Be careful mates!

By aoun45, Bangkok- Thailand (5 years ago)

This is not a "Thailand only" issue. It is happening all over. I agree with DOS... it is not possible to contact (several hundred) people just to say "thanks but no thanks."


By Brian Quinby, Thailand (5 years ago)

That is precisely the problem/point "merely the ones that EXPECT to be contacted". Every applicant expects to be contacted, hence "only shortlisted applicants will be contacted”.
It really does boil down to time management: contact the few who meet the requirements, have sent a CV and included a photo (in the proper attire) and a cover letter without typos. Just a word of advice to all applicants reading this: please, please proof read your CVs and cover letters before you click the send button! You wouldn't believe how many applications are deleted due to spelling errors, poor grammar and punctuation not to mention photos of them at the beach/in t-shirt and shorts, etc. (it only costs Baht 120-180 to have photos taken in a studio, wearing a shirt, tie and jacket). Irrespective of how well qualified applicants might be, these mistakes are a no-no when applying for any job, especially a job teaching English. Just my 2 cents worth. Good luck to you.

By DO.S, Bangkok (5 years ago)

The article does not ask that all applicants be contacted merely the ones that expect to be contacted and have the required experience that match the job specifications. So there is no need for DOS to reply and state the obvious: that all can't be contacted and that only short listed applicants are. Most applicants accept this. The author is asking if it too much for some of the better applicants to be told why they were not short listed.

I agree with the author. I have had strange experiences with employers in Thailand and I have no idea why some months no one is interested in me and in others I get 4-5 interviews and potential offers.
It is frustrating when people don't return your calls or emails and hard to understand why. In my case, I have a Trinty certTESOL, 4 years experience and I am a year away from having an M.A. I am considered attractive, average weigh, and fair skinned with a neutral accent. I have great qualifications, am presentable and presently work at a very famous public school but from 6 applications to part time jobs recently I got zero replies. May I add that I'm a great teacher too ;)

If employers have their own agenda then please let us know. If you only want to employ women, fine, let us know. If you think we are too old, again I accept the umpires decision but I'd like to know. If its too much trouble then the upshot is that you will have a smaller pool of qualified applicants to choose from because the employers outside of Thailand are happy to show us a little more respect. Cheers.

By Si Knight, Bangkok (5 years ago)

As Director of Studies at a language school in Bangkok, I can tell you that it is physically impossible to reply to every single applicant! We are simply inundated with applications, emails, photos, etc.
"only shortlisted applicants will be contacted" says it all.
Good luck in your search for a job. Believe me, the good teachers are few and far between.

By DOS, Bangkok (5 years ago)

I more or less agree as we receive applications from people who obviously did not read the ad or understood what it was about.
Some people seem to have a problem with Business Studies and Business English for instance...
If someone does not have the required qualifications and send his documents anyway, he does not respect the school either as people have to waste their time dealing with inappropriate applications.

By Bernard, Sriracha/Chonburi (5 years ago)

Welcome to Thailand (need I say more)

By Teacher Robert, omnipresent buddhist (5 years ago)

Please, If the advert states only shortlisted applicants are contacted, why are you then screaming down the phone to my staff asking why you haven't been contacted!?

By Employer, Thailand (5 years ago)

My God Nonemar! Are you "Anti Article Man"?

By Mark, BKK (5 years ago)

I agree with the saying ''a happy teacher tells his colleagues about his experience with a school. An unhappy teacher will tell EVERYONE about that school''. It was the greatest thing that one teacher should consider when i got hired from one agency and I have given a response when i applied, and it was great experience to work with government school for more than 2 yrs of my stay here in BKK,
I believe it is important to send someone a response letter or could be a text sms of saying thank you for applying...

By Nonemar, bangkok (5 years ago)

Ever since the arrival of school websites and email addresses, employers have been bombarded by backpackers from all over the world.

Most of these people never arrive, and those that do frequently move on before the school year is out. Many even leave midterm after collecting their salary and without giving any notice.

That's the history and the reason why many employers don't acknowledge emails. You need to be there in person to get your foot in the door.

Post your resume on ajarn.com and you WILL get calls, especially if you're not fussy about which area of the country you want to work in.

By Jonah, Phuket (5 years ago)

several schools have ignored polite emails concerning teaching positions. I find it unprofessional, but this is Thailand, and sometimes the falang managers who are put in charge are poorly trained or have no experience in business ettiquette.

By Jim, in limbo (5 years ago)

Quote "Politeness is one of the core qualities of Thai culture. So should it be with its employers."

It's a core quality of "external" culture. Done for show and face saving all 'round. In the safety and anonymity of email communications ... the true "internal" qualities come to force. i.e ... They're as slack as anyone else on the Planet.

By Mark, Bangkok (5 years ago)

I don't believe it has anything to do with politeness or lack of it. It is purely down to efficiency.
In my own native country adverts always stated that only short-listed applicants would be contacted, so why should Thailand be any different.
I see it simply as normal and proper business practice.

By Andy, Bangkok (5 years ago)

If you look at the non-teaching jobs in the Bangkok Post, many will say words to the effect that only applications from short listed candidates will be acknowledged. That may be the custom here. While I doubt this is a concern in Thailand, I was an American attorney and did some employment law. Many companies there do not acknowledge unwanted or unneeded applications on advice of their attorneys because anything they say could provoke litigation.

By Robert, Sattahip (5 years ago)

I never had a single English language school, government school job agent, or private school obtain the proper work visa for me while teach English in Thailand. More than politeness would be just doing things legally when you are making really good money because I teach a much needed professional skill to the future Thai work force.

By Rick Bangkok, United States (5 years ago)

It is questionable how much of credibility to comment on serious matters (like academic matters) man have, if "teach" (or have any other way of income) in the area of ​​cheap sex and beer.
Recognizing everyone's right to different opinions, I am inclined to believe that there is a lot of incompetence and dishonest reasoning in farangs who teach in Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, or any other "exotic place" in Thailand.
Zones of cheap sex and beer as listed for some 7 years I do not consider as places where decent farangs should have a place of work. Much more of my admiration goes to farangs who selected the remote and poor regions of Thailand as their place to teach.
It is a pity that the authorities of Thailand and the schools do not use this logic in the selection of farangs in seeking the most suitable person for the teaching job.
That way, employer etiquette would be higher and in accordance with international standard.
Way far from this mess they have in education now.
About Thai employers' etiquette.
The Technology Promotion Association (TPA) was established 1973 by the former Minister of Finance, Khun Sommai Hoontrakool. The original objective was to promote and support technological knowledge within the Thai population. The School of Language was one of the departments. Chinese and English have been added to the list of languages taught at the school. It was for benefit of elementary / pre -intermediate students who have been exposed to the grammar but have had a very little oral skills.
This school happened exactly 39 years ago!!! Thirty nine years ago!!! This school was opened to farangs and etiquette of employer was based on international standards. That was the first and last time, as i know.
Public schools added English as subject, much later.
Farangs was invited to Thailand to help as benefit of education, even more later.
Today, 39 years later nothing change!
Some 80% of Thai teachers are still about grammar only, as 39 years ago.
Linguistic science is lively matter. Focus is on speaking and listening skills. Any farang who points to Thai teachers about it - is history. Any foreigner who teaches in accordance to linguistic science will be not accepted because by his way of teach - he would point on the incompetence of Thai teachers or their laziness.
Some 80% are worthless as teachers.
Survey during the Government of Mr. Abhisit found 88% of Thai teachers incompetent to teach their subjects and that was pointed as a national disgrace.
Teachers in Thailand should follow all changes in linguistic science. They don't. Many reasons. Mainly it is because of their lack of speaking and listening skills so they stick to grammar and spelling. So, how about English skills of 80% of students today? Horrible! The contract ASEAN has a clause that all countries have to improve English language. It is standard for all countries who signed that contract. Thailand is in very big risk to don't achieve the goal. If fail will be no any benefit from that contract. If fail Thailand might be ashamed.
Thailand need good farang teachers more than ever.
Nowadays, Thailand made that many farangs left and went to teach in Korea, Japan, Vietnam even Cambodia and Laos.
So how on earth to expect any etiquette or professional attitude? :(

By Micky, In the middle of nowhere (5 years ago)

If you think communication in China is good, it shows that you have never begun the process of dealing with the most illogical and unprofessional people in the teaching universe.

By Rachel, US (5 years ago)

Good blog John - totally agree with you. As for the negative comments. You are probably the backpacker no degree merchants who are ruining it here for everyone.

By lee, chaing mai (5 years ago)

You said:"Politeness is one of the core qualities of Thai culture." This is wrong, just an illusion. This is one of the biggest myths about Thais. This WAS, maybe but once upon a time. Long time ago.
Nowadays, you cannot say this for Thais.
You have no need to live in Thailand more than 2-3 years so to see all that infamous images about Thais are just propaganda, advertising.
Something has to be clear. Some 75% of Thais, who intend to have business, don't know to do the business, at all. Many agencies are proof of this. Taking but not giving is not the way you can"do the business", that's for sure.
At first, most of Agencies are NOT REGISTERED at all. Agency work is, for many of them, just the way to get "easy money" and nothing else. This"easy money" syndrome is an obsession for most of Thais at work. I said for most of them.
Next, their contracts, most of them, have not a thing common with norms or regulation accepted in the international community.
Moreover, many times those contracts are going against Thai labour law, employment act and are inhuman. You could say some contracts are pure slavery.
You should wake up and do it as soon as possible before to late.

By Micky, In the middle of nowhere (5 years ago)

We receive around 2000 maybe more genuine teaching applications per year and we have no chance to send a reply to all of them.
So, we note in our job posts like we do not respond to applicants who do not meet our requirements.
It is the same for all companies around this world. It means, if you do not receive a reply back, you are not considered for that job. That easy.
Normally, an eager HR department sends a reply for a good applicant within a week so if you do not hear from an application more that a week, just forget it.

By KD Eryarar, Bangkok (5 years ago)

I have some sympathy for John, but Jack is right, for better or worse it is extremely rare for employers to acknowledge all applications and, quite frankly in my experience as a past English director the majority of applications are so poor they don't deserve acknowledgement. The frustrating thing here is that most Thai school directors and not a few farangs have no idea about what makes a good English teacher and often make interview and hiring decisions on the most bizarrely irrelevant criteria.

By John, Bangkok (5 years ago)


I am not sure what planet you live on, but in NGOs, academia and the private sector one is also unlikely to get a response for each job one applies for either. Welcome to the 21st century.

If you are looking for reasons to be angry at “Thailand,” ok, go ahead and vent, but this complaint could be used for nearly every profession in nearly every location.

In addition, I seriously doubt “Thailand” is quaking in its collective boots and over the threats of an English teacher to take his talents elsewhere.

By Jack, Somewhere nice (5 years ago)

While I can clearly see both sides (having been on both sides) I think we can agree to disagree that there will never be a Thai change or an envelope here in Thailand.

This year a new "pause" prior to actually applying for positions.
When reviewing a posting for a teaching position it should include items like: Salary, location, age of students and some sort of expectations they seek.

These are real telephone conversation quotes from many different job inquiries.

Agent: "we can not tell you where (the school) it is until after you sign the contract"
me: why?
Agent "I don't want you contacting the school, without us, we lose commission"

- - next - -
me: "is the school in a remote location?"
Agent: "It depends on what you mean by a remote location?"
me: "is the location accessible by Plane, Train, Bus, Taxi. Tuk-Tuk or Elephant?
Agent: "we will meet you at the bus station and take you there"
me: "about how from the bus station in the town?"
Agent: "we will stop about halfway and buy you lunch"
me: "so it is not near the small town bus station?"
Agent: "they don't have a 7 eleven if that is what you want"

- salary challenges -
Agent: "we will hold 3K baht every month from your salary, and give it to you at the end of your contract"
me: "why?"
Agent: "so we know you will complete your contract and not leave early because of the working conditions"
- next -
Contact person: start at 7:15 gate duty, 26 teaching hours per week,remain on campus until 1630 gate duty ends, one saturday afternoon per month, and once a week english club after school, 24000 baht, we help with paper for "b" visa, we give 50% for accident insurance.
me: Thank you, good bye.

- next -
me: "can you tell me the age group of the students, the posting does not say"
Agent: "we will pay you a bonus to sign a contract"
me: "okay, but what age group would l teach?"
Agent: "some of the classrooms have air-con, others have fans and the school provides a western lunch"
me: "great, what age group are the students"
Agent: "it varies"
- next -
Contact person; "Can you come in for an interview on -day at -o'clock?"
Me: "yes, I can"
Contact person: "be prepared to teach a 50 minute class to students as a demonstration, also bring us ten lesson plans, and three positive references. Please, be on time we have many other teachers demonstrating that week"
Me: "sure, my rate is 500 baht an hour"

Well, I can continue - although not now!
Personally, I have twenty years teaching experience with excellent references, and credentials. It is my desire to continue to teach in Thailand for the students. I try and ignore the nonsense, BUT it just seems to be getting silly!

Finally, Yes, I would like a note of thanks for applying, as I always follow-up with a note of appreciate your time on my review.

*This was written for a smile, not out of bitterness, or anger!

By Mitch, A classroom, in Thailand (5 years ago)

In general I have had a very good experience of communication with departments; however,I have just had the worst interview experience of my entire life at one university - supposedly one of the best universities in Thailand?

I spoke to the head of the department about the whole nightmare, which was, believe me, shocking - even for Thai standards. Despite assuring me he would reply, he has continued to ignore all communication.

I was thinking that maybe this is a cultural thing? But then it slowly dawned on me that the man is clearly an idiot. Oh well - not every school or department here is useless, it's just a shame that the really bad ones tend to be REALLY bad.


By Tristan, Bangkok (5 years ago)

Dave said, 'I worked for more than a decade in Korea and I have NEVER heard of an employer (language academy, public school program, university or recruiter) paying anyone for an interview.' I went to several university interviews (at least five) where all of the applicants were paid with envelopes full of money and we had to sign for them! The first time, I thought it rare, but everyone else attending told me it was normal because they want to hire the best. One college gave me a beautiful Korean jewelry box with the college name embedded on the bottom that I still have today. The estimated value is at least $50. It was wrapped like a precious gift and given out off sincere kindness. When I asked other Koreans why, they said, 'it's about marketing and image. Image is everything in Korea.'

In Thailand, you are LUCKY to get a thank you for going to an interview. Once, I spent more than half the day going to an international school's (practically required) Buddhist meditation practice at the weekend only to never hear from them again. And sometimes Thai employers expect to do the interview out in the noisy lobby, which is so tacky and unprofessional! You can never expect to hear back from them again if they aren't interested! It's RUDE, thankless and unprofessional, but all too common in Thailand. Do YOU follow up with the people who go out of their way to come to your interviews?

By Lisa, (5 years ago)

Dave (Ajarn Employer),

"The obvious answer is to acknowledge those applicants who do meet the criteria, don’t ask questions that are addressed in the ad, and who submit applications that are not full of language, spelling or grammar errors.

By Ben Sherman, Planet Earth on 2012-05-30"

They did get acknowledged and they also received an offer to come for an interview as well. 20 of them were also hired for this term and joined the other 130 members of our faculty.

"In Korea, they paid teachers a lot of money to attend interviews. Those envelopes full of money were given out immediately at the end of the interview process along with a sincere thank you even if you weren’t someone they liked!

By Lisa on 2012-05-26"

I worked for more than a decade in Korea and I have NEVER heard of an employer (language academy, public school program, university or recruiter) paying anyone for an interview.

Truth is that in Korea, if you don't have all your documentation completely ready when you fire off your resume you won't get a response from anyone there either.

"I find it worrying that somebody in your position (Dave) believes that because of the multitude of incomplete applications that you feel it is not necessary to reply. Is this not your job?

By Marti, Phuket on 2012-05-28"

Nope. My job is to find suitable applicants from which to hire new staff. Those would be the applications that were not full of errors, were complete, are available and ask them to come for an interview.

My job is not to waste time responding to people who can't read, write or follow directions. Those applications made it to the trash bin in about 30 seconds and I did not waste my time writing 300+ responses to them .


By Dave, Thailand (5 years ago)

Dave (Ajarn Employer),

The obvious answer is to acknowledge those applicants who do meet the criteria, don't ask questions that are addressed in the ad, and who submit applications that are not full of language, spelling or grammar errors.

By Ben Sherman, Planet Earth (5 years ago)

This is hardly unique to either education or to Thailand. Try sending your resume and cover letter to Fortune 500 companies in the U.S.; do you really think most of them will send a reply?
Send a CV to a school/company is a little bit like sending a message to a girl on a dating site: if they are interested in you, they will reply.

By Danny, Shanghai (5 years ago)

John, I must agree. I am a qualified teacher (professional) with teaching experience in both my own country and in Thailand. I spend a lot of time choosing schools to apply to with a similar educational philosophy to mine and I feel, as you do, that it is common courtesy for a school to reply back, regardless of the outcome. I also understand that there will be a time when employers have to filter through the plain, unintelligible and incomplete applications (Dave) however wouldn't you think that when you (Dave) come across a complete application where the applicant has obviously spent time to research the position, that it would only be polite to respond?

In the recent past, I have applied for numerous positions where I have far surpassed the required qualifications and haven't received any replies. This makes me wonder whether schools in Thailand are appointing the right people for the recruitment process. Teachers like me are happy to take work home to do the job properly, I find it worrying that somebody in your position (Dave) believes that because of the multitude of incomplete applications that you feel it is not necessary to reply. Is this not your job?

By Marti, Phuket (5 years ago)

I don't expect potential employers to email me back just because I send them a cover letter, CV and picture. However, if I take the time to go to an interview and give it my best effort, I think the potential employer owes me the courtesy of a timely follow-up 'thank you' at least. I might have taken 3-5 hours (or more) out of my day to go to that interview and/or spent hundreds of baht in transportation expense. And they might even expect me to come back a second time for another interview/demo lesson only to be treated with indifference or rudeness.

In Korea, they paid teachers a lot of money to attend interviews. Those envelopes full of money were given out immediately at the end of the interview process along with a sincere thank you even if you weren't someone they liked!

By Lisa, (5 years ago)

Thais just use english teachers and generally gossip about them every day and dont show them any respect. we are like cattle in a farm to them. If one english teacher leaves there are so many more to choose from. With this sort of thai mentality is it any wonder they dont reply. English teachers are not seen as important people in thailand and this is why you dont get the respect of an email.

By james, thailand (5 years ago)

Dear Teacher Applicant,

If you can't be bothered to actually read my ad before you apply then don't be surprised that I don't bother to return your e-mail.

I placed our ads on Ajarn.com to fill staff positions for this academic year.

The ads were very detailed and complete and included who we wanted in terms of qualifications and who we didn't want or wouldn't consider.

They included full remuneration details along with full job requirements and the application process.

I received over 300 applications from applicants who did not fit the criteria outlined in the ad, had incomplete application packages, were asking questions regarding information that was included in the ad, full of language, spelling or grammar errors or were just plain unintelligible.

Why should I waste my time replying to you when you shouldn't have applied in the first place.

Ajarn employer.

By Dave, Thailand (5 years ago)

Sorry John but your email reads like sour grapes. Does anyone come from a work culture where emails are answered out of etiquette or obligation?

I think thumbing your nose at Thai schools may somehow help your bruised ego, but your multiple mailing of the same email to many schools makes you an email spammer, doesn't it?

By Guy, bkk (5 years ago)

This is something I was utterly disgusted with when I was applying for jobs in the U.S. I took the time to research each company I applied for and write custom cover letters to send along with my application. In the course of 6 months without a job, I send anywhere between 300-500 applications off, and maybe received responses from 1-5% of them. Companies who use Taleo HR software have absolutely no excuse for not including an automated feature that e-mails applicants when the position has been filled.

People need the jobs more than the employers need them, and so they feel that they can get away with treating applicants like dirt. Yes, it does make the company look bad, but it is not like they are lacking in applicants. Again, people need a job.

This I will say-I remember each and every one of those companies who did not have the common courtesy to respond en mass, and I am sure many others do too. If/when the economy ever goes back to the way it was in the late 90's when companies were so desperate for employees that they would offer signing bonuses and applicants had the luxury of choosing which company they would like to work for, we will not forget how we were treated in the worst of times. With the internet, I can communicate that message to hundreds and thousands of people. Additionally, these people are potential clients who can and do take their business elsewhere.

By Brian Newman, Houston, TX (5 years ago)

Couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, this happens not just in Thailand, but all over the world these days.

There is no excuse for not giving a polite, short reply. I don't care if an employer gets 500 applications. Just reply, dammit.

By Mike, (5 years ago)

John, as someone who e-mails back and forth with Thai companies, schools and employers on a day-to-day basis, I would agree that the standard of e-mail communication is far too low. It's not the case for all employers and advertisers, but certainly for far too many.

I really don't know what the problem is. I've never been able to put my finger on it. But my favorite e-mail communication story occurred several years ago when I contacted a Thai person who was recruiting for several schools at the time, so presumably she was dealing with lots of teacher applications. I can't remember her exact words but they were along the lines of "sorry for my late response. I received your e-mail on Monday afternoon and I only ever check my Hotmail on Monday mornings"

And that's why I waited a week for a reply. And that's what in many cases you might well be up against.

By philip, (5 years ago)

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