E-mailing for jobs

E-mailing for jobs

Doing it the right way!

So you are thinking of getting a job as an EFL teacher, huh? By e-mail...?
Recruiters have a busy job. They sometimes receive many e-mail applications every day, particularly to ads posted on the internet which of course is read world-wide. If you wish to even receive a reply you could consider the following points:

Personalise your application to the organisation whose ad you are answering. Obvious blanket or multi-mailings are uninspiring, demonstrate a lack of personal energy and engagement, and will almost certainly be ignored. Make sure that you adhere faithfully to the requirements of the ad: no less, no more; and if you are applying for a job in EFL, make sure your own English is absolutely perfect. One of my friends, also an EFL director, with a typical British penchant for cynical humour sometimes sends this automated reply:

"A prerequisite for being an English teacher is being able to understand the language. You were unable to follow the instructions in our ad. We regret that your application cannot be processed". or "Thank you for your excellent example of bad grammar. With your permission we would like to use this as an exercise in our end of term exams for 3rd graders."

Avoid lengthy letters of motivation - it is unmodern, and everyone uses the same template, particularly those which were prepared with the help of the instructors at the TEFL/TESOL institute. Do not display your lack of knowledge about the country which you have 'supposedly' chosen to be your next place of work. We know if you have sent the same letter world-wide. If it is Thailand you want to work in, it might help to mention it.

For one thing, it will show the recruiter that you already know about salaries and costs of living in developing countries; that you have looked up everything you can find on the net about 'Teaching in Thailand' and that you realise that the average EFL teacher lasts less than 4 months in a job before leaving because the school was a lousy place, or he/she got fired and sent home.

The CV is critical. Nobody is interested that you were a pom-pom girl, a catcher's glove carrier, or a cub scout. Likewise, the vacation stint serving burgers in Joe's diner only demonstrates that you were refused anything better! Nevertheless, do not be so brief that the recruiter will have to contact you for more information. 

Try to avoid sending your CV as an attachment. These take more time to download and open and sometimes carry viruses. 

Do not send CV's to organisations who are not currently recruiting. They will certainly not be read.

It helps to mention your age. In fact it is one of the main features of personal details that should be on every CV. A 20-year old greenhorn is less likely to manage a class of 60 unruly grade 12 farmer's sons than someone with firm experience in class discipline. Some climates (and work-load) may also be unsuitable for older persons looking for a post-retirement job. So, no age, no reply.

It helps to mention your gender. With all the first names out there from a hundred countries using western languages, it is not always clear if boys or girls are writing in. Some jobs involve specifically working with girl students in convent schools, while some require teaching English to car mechanics. So, although Thailand may have three genders, neuters don't get replies to job applications.

And finally, to reiterate a tip on many a teacher web site: The best jobs go to those who are already in the country and on call for an interview at a moment's notice. Beware of those organisations who ply the universities with promises of jobs abroad. In one year you will not even earn back the cost of their fee (900 pounds in the UK + air fare), the insurance package they offer you can be got locally for half the price (BUPA) and the rafting in Kanchanaburi the week before your group leader dispatches you to your school can be done for 15 pounds at any weekend of your choice.

Happy job hunting!

Chris, if I could add another point to that list, it would be don't just send a resume without some sort of cover letter. It only takes a moment to type out a short cover letter to state which position you are applying for and perhaps just a few words about yourself (or write 'please find my resume attached') When jobseekers send an e-mail with a resume attached but don't bother with any kind of cover letter, it suggests an unprofessional, half-assed attitude. Seriously - why would I want to employ a person like that?


I'm beyond curious as to what gives this writer any credibility on this subject. Even if someone involved in hiring - sitting in judgement and evaluating horrible resumes as they roll in lol... that's low level understanding.

Having landed three jobs in my upper fifties at three of best public, private secondaries in Thailand and two additional very noteworthy schools and more than doubling my salary in the process I would not recommend much of anything written above.

What's my magic? Well, that's my magic.

By Jim Beam, The Big Smoke (18th December 2021)

Thank you, author for the good gist of tips. Like many of the comment-ers here, not attaching the CV is a bit of a contrary to the instructions at the ads.

But I was more amused by the comments placed on here which I presume mostly, if not all, are EFL teachers? If I'm a Thai parent and have read stuff like "I am agree with you..." and put NAITIVE (in the desire to comment on Native English Speakers), then I'd pull my kids out from where these teachers are the very next day.

And sorry but I agree with Jimmy today, Louie. Great facts though.

By Marzha, Philippines (2nd January 2015)

"before you mock on our country, maybe you can make some research regarding the fluency of Filipino people in the English field. sorry for that. maybe some of us are not really English major or or not really good in it but even 3-4 years old can speak English. We must observe and check first rather that saying that we are cheap. please read the articles to make you know about us or visit this website"

It's wonderful that Filipinos share a passion for the English language, but the paragraph above demonstrates nearly all of the grammatical and contextual errors for which Filipinos are known.

By James, Bangkok (2nd April 2013)

before you mock on our country, maybe you can make some research regarding the fluency of Filipino people in the English field. sorry for that. maybe some of us are not really English major or or not really good in it but even 3-4 years old can speak English. We must observe and check first rather that saying that we are cheap. please read the articles to make you know about us or visit this website http://ph.news.yahoo.com/ph--world-s-best-country-in-business-english.html

Well, people will now have to think twice before mocking Pinoys' use of the English language.

The Philippines was named the world’s best country in business English proficiency, even beating the United States, according to a recent study by GlobalEnglish Corporation.

GlobalEnglish has released early this month the results of its annual Business English Index (BEI), the only index that measures business English proficiency in the workplace.

For 2012, results showed that from 76 represented countries worldwide, only the Philippines attained a score above 7.0, "a BEI level within range of a high proficiency that indicates an ability to take an active role in business discussions and perform relatively complex tasks."

“This is particularly interesting because the Philippines, a country with one-tenth of the population of India, recently overtook India as a hub for call centers. Over 400,000 Filipinos are now employed in call centers, roughly 50,000 more than in India,” the study said.

The Philippines, which scored 7.11 and the lone country in the intermediate level, were joined by Norway (6.54), Estonia (6.45), Serbia (6.38) and Slovenia (6.19) in the top five.

GlobalEnglish noted that a country’s business English capability is an indicator of its economic growth and business success.

“It is not surprising that both the Philippines and Norway—the only two countries in the top five in both 2011 and 2012—are improving their economies, based on the latest GDP data from the World Bank,” it added.

Meanwhile, struggling economic powers (Japan, Italy and Mexico) and fast-growth emerging markets (Brazil, Columbia and Chile) scored below a 4.0 in business English proficiency, placing them at a disadvantage when competing in a global marketplace, the study said.

By By Louie, on March 18, 2013, Philippines (17th March 2013)

One simple fact to get the discussion back on track: whether it is right or wrong to want only native English speakers, the fact is that schools have their policies, and it's not an applicant's place to try to change their policy.

In my school, for example, we have 2 sections. Each follows the same curriculum and has the same number of hours taught by foreigners. It's just that in one section the foreigners are native speakers, and in the other section the foreigners are non-native speakers, ie Filipino and Indian at the moment. I'm not saying I agree with this, but that's the way it is, so when I am recruiting for my department, I HAVE TO accept only native speakers, or parents will start to ask "What's the difference between the 2 sections then?"

However, just being a native speaker doesn't make you a good teacher, as some people on this forum seem to think. We choose those that we are convinced are going to do a good job. I know that there are plenty of good and plenty of bad teachers in both categories - so would people please stop arguing for one over the other?

The article was "how to apply for a job on email". The gist of it? - READ the ad properly, only apply if you are eligible, and give all the required information.

By Lucie, Ubon Ratchatani (19th February 2013)

I think you guys are missing the point of the value of a non-native speaker.
do you relies that the total of native speakers in Thailand is less than 1% of all the emigrants that are in Thailand at the moment? the rest are non-native speakers of English. from India, Malaysia, China, Japan, Germany, France, Italy. So hear we have everybody trying to teach English fluently in our Schools and yet they can not understand a single word when trying to socialize or do business or answer a query when approached by a non-native speaker of English. With the new ASIAN system coming up will they all speak Like Americans or British? I don't think so.
So having non-native speakers of English Teachers will enable our future generation to cope and understand many English tones, don't you think?

By Andreas, Bangkok, Thailand (19th February 2013)

There is a very important issue that is been missed in all these comments. The issue of tone (syntax) and accent. There is no way or nearly impossible for a Thai to speak with the fluency, speed and pronunciation like an American or Brit. It's in their tongue. In comparability, the African teachers who no one is making any mention of them, has a near accent and speed of talking English like the Thais. There has been countless results and confessions by Thai students, school managers and parents that they understand English better when spoken by these African teachers. The whole thing boils down to racial supremacy and skin color preference.

By Abou, surat (27th January 2013)

I agree to what ever is mentioned above, native English speakers can definately speak good english but all can not be a teacher. There are many candidates who are from different country but they can speak and teach english. so cant they be given a chance to have a new experience of teaching english as second language?

By Tripti, chiang mai (31st July 2012)

Whatever is said about any non-native speakers, the problem lies with the Thai Education Ministry. We as native speakers know very few non-native speakers can match our standards of speaking or writing. This is where the problems start to show, native speakers are expensive, Filipinos are cheap and not very good. But remember you only get what you pay for. As they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Now Thailand's chickens are coming home to roost. The corruption element is too far ingrained into the schools, agencies having to pay sweeteners to the school directors to get the contracts. The pay for native speakers has gone down, just not worth doing the job for the level of pay offered.

Personally I earn a very good salary, but I have to work 7 days for this. No longer worth staying. As I have said I am going back to England in a few short weeks, and the sooner my leaving date comes the better.

The real crux of the matter is stop Thai teachers teaching English, they are very poor at it, much worse than Filipinos, given a choice between between Thais and Filipinos, Filipinos every time as they are far better than Thai teachers.

By Steve, Bangkok (30th July 2012)

I send my kids to a private school.

It's expensive.

I expect native English speaking teachers.

And that's the end of it.

By Jack Dean, Bangkok (30th July 2012)


Sorry, but if you're not a native speaker (a) you will almost definitely not have a neutral accent and (b) it is impossible for you to have a vocabulary that far exceeds a NES unless you have worked in a NES country for a long period of time where you had to use English as part of your daily job AND had a NES partner, ANDd didn't live in a ghetto.


By Geoff, Up Norf (30th July 2012)

Just like in England, employers take staff on from other countries at a very cheap rate. I believe this to be wrong, but when it comes to English, you want your students to learn the correct way and the only way is by native English speakers.

By Wendy Livesey, Blackpool (29th July 2012)

My experience of Filipino teachers is, they think they speak English like natives and some even profess to be native English speakers, but when native English speakers take over from them, the errors are beyond belief.

By Wendy Livesey, Blackpool (29th July 2012)

The addition on the end is, for me, the most important - INCLUDE A COVER LETTER! If I get an email with no content, just attachments, I delete it. But, as also mentioned above, don't go on and on. Be concise - who are you, what have you done, what are you looking for. THEN you'll get an answer. Unless you're one of those idiots who think it's OK not to use punctuation or capital letters in an email...

By Lucie, Ubon Ratchatani (26th April 2012)

On my last day (April14) in Bangkok I toured around the city. However, it was really difficult to talk to the Thai Nationals because they can't even understand the question on how to get to a certain place. I took a single bike motorcycle-taxi to tour me in the city but we can not each other. The driver brought me to a certain place and called a Thai kid to converse me with. After talking to this kid I commended her for her good English and I told her I am a teacher, too. Excitedly she said "What school?" I replied, "not here, in the Philippines". I asked her, "Do you have English class in school?". She said, "Yes, I had Filipino teacher, too in English", "Really? Nice...", The she added..."I had German and Japanese teachers in English". Then I asked her..."Among these three teachers you had, Filipino, German and Japanese, to whom did you learn the most?" She replied. Filipino Teacher. I smiled and again I told her... Very good. Thanked her and leave the place and toured Bangkok. I figured out, there was nothing wrong with the German and Japanese teachers but probably I noticed that Filipino teachers speak slowly as we converse in English, words are uttered well and with proper pronunciation. That's what I have in mind. Cheers!

By Marivic Espiritu, Philippines (16th April 2012)

@Steve Salter you cant get work and than blame it on non native speakers. That is pathetic to say the least. Firstly I am a non naitive speaker however my pronunciation is perfect. I have a clear accent, unlike the Pommies and the Americans. My vocab far exceeds that of most native speakers. Schools should not advertise they are looking for naitive speakers but rather that they are looking for fluency in English.

By thinktank, Bangkok (21st February 2012)

They should not say Native or Non Native the school should just interview the teachers and select them for what they are able to produce after all its the students that are in their care who have to face the blunt of everything .The Prounounciation of words the tone in voice and the personality should be taken into account. It is also necessary to ask the teacher if she/he can continue after a year if asked to after all the students especially the little ones like seeing familar facs this gives them confidence that they can still see heir teacher around the school and can always run up to her /him if they are having any problems .

By michelle, India (Kolkata) (11th January 2012)

I do agree with a lot of what is said about English teaching in Thailand. What bothers me, is there are there so many non-native speakers teaching English here. I have worked with many of these people, their pronunciation is absolutely terrible and they cannot string a good sentence together, however they try. I thought we native speakers were here to teach pronunciation and conversation, yet often a non-native speaker will get the job. Could this be to make it so Thai teachers do not look so bad when they speak.
In my 6 years of teaching English here I haven't come across one Thai teacher who can speak half decent English. Thai kids will always have to go to private language centres to learn English, because it is the only way they can get good English teaching, unless their parents can afford to send them to the best and most expensive schools which is frankly speaking not the case.
Thailand has got to make it's mind up one way or the other, use only native speakers or carry on the way they are and get the cheapest but worst option. The only way to speak English is with native speakers like it or not.
Non-native speakers may take offence to this , but would they like it if the tables were turned, and non native speakers of their language were teaching it and doing them out of work.

By steve salter, Thailand (2nd November 2011)

The advices are good but then it came to the one about NOT sending the resume as attachment???? Thats what all the job ads require here on Ajarn and all the ads elsewhere... that made me lose confident in the writer of this list.

By Bruce, Pattaya (1st October 2011)

Ageism. My school doesnt win any major competitions, but attends every Tesco and BigC karaoke contest going. Happy, happy with lots of fun by a succession of recently qualified backpackers. Fine by me Thailand; you can stay the country with one of the lowest IQ's in Asia. Welcome China, S.Korea . . . .

By Ian, Thailand (25th July 2011)

The advice in this article is quite useful. But some of the comments in reply are telling indeed. Why are we helping schools promote age discrimination? In my country, that is supposed to be illegal but happens all the time. In the 19th century job seekers in Boston were greeted by signs reading, "No Irish Need Apply." Black citizens could not vote or visit "Whites Only" places of business. Women could not apply for a "man's" job. So why is ethnic and gender discrimination not acceptable practice in the 21st century while ageism is tolerated? Even if not illegal, it is certainly unethical and if such discrimination were directed toward an applicant because of race or gender then I am certain much more would be said and done about it. Why are not schools and recruiters who engage in such hiring practices boycotted and attention brought to the media? Why are teachers not raising some hell? Let's lay aside the idea that ageism is acceptable practice in the TEFL industry due to cultural norms. Absolute rubbish. Tell it like it is: Ageism is practiced by schools and recruiters for reasons related to profit. They can pay a younger teacher less and write contracts more in the employer's favor because "the market" allows it. Overhead costs are lowered and profits increase. More concern is for "the market" than for quality language instruction. I have an answer. Why don't all countries sign on to a UN treaty forbidding such violations of civil rights? Or we could simply go along with this and other practices like union busting and stacking legal codes in the employers' favor. Wait a sec...that's America!

By Paul McKannon, Eugene, Oregon (13th July 2011)

A very valuable article, thank you. I believe its very important that if you expect someone to take an interest in you, you should do likewise, and know as much about them as you can. Spend some time researching a prospective employer...

By keith ele, London, UK. (27th June 2011)

I have to agree on some points here. People that respond to job posts on here, DON'T READ the ad. They just click send resume and that's it.

Also, when some schools advertise for positions. Most of the time, they can't read or understand English that well to be able to understand what is needed. They focus mostly on the face, degree, and teaching qualifications. That is why more and more school seem to relay on an outsider (NES, Someone who knows the lingo - the talk-) to find the right people for you.

Though, when you apply for a job via e-mail, usually you send your documents first with your CV. Then a few days later you send a followup letter. Do they read these, probably not. They just like a handsome white man with blond hair, blue eyes or a sexy girl with big knockers. That's it.

By Abdul Jabbar, Bangkok (22nd April 2011)

I'm with Nick all the way. READ THE ADVERTISEMENT.

As anyone who has looked at the ajarn jobs page or at some of the banners on the site will know - I am currently recruiting for teachers to work for Disney English in China. I've had a good response so far, but barely 10% of applicants have bothered to read the ad properly.

It clearly states in the ad that you must be 25-39 years old. 40 years old isn't 39 years old. Neither is 63 years old. Hell, I'm 46 myself. I know what it's like to be considered too old for a job - but that's life. If you are 45 and look 35, then that's still no good. You need to look 35 and ACTUALLY BE 35.

No one likes to tell teachers in a reply that they are too old for a job. But how else can you break the news?

The ad also states that you will be expected to attend an interview in Central Bangkok. I've had several teachers contact me from the other side of the world, and when I ask them if they can attend an interview in Bangkok, they go off at me as if I'm completely mad.

By philip, (28th March 2011)

My advice: READ THE ADVERTISEMENT. I can honestly say about 90% of applications I get do not read the ad properly - or equally annoying - try their luck when they don't meet the requirements and send something in anyway. Now I have a disclaimer "Please do not expect a reply. if you do not follow the application instructions properly". I used to make a point of replying to every application, but now when applicants can't be bothered to read the ad, I can't be bothered to respond.
As for Jimmy's advice - it may work for some but for me,I file all digital applications under qualified-save for further consideration, not qualified but possible back up and the third type doesn't get filed. Now the Hard copy hand delivered CV does stand out for sure, and if the details match, it will be placed on my desk. On many occasions, my desk gets more and more cluttered before I have a chance to open all those saved files for review and more often than not, I overlook the hard copy now lost deep under paperwork somewhere. This is perhaps just me - but this really happens!

By Nick, Bangkok (28th March 2011)

What's not been mentioned is the inability of Thais to say "no". I have recently turned 60 which means I am virtually unemployable in Thailand due to the dept. of education's ageist rules. It took some time for me to realise this as all but one employer chose to just not reply at all rather than say "Sorry, we cannot hire you because of your age" The one school who had the decency to reply and explain the situation was about the 25th application I had sent over a 4 week period. Of course I thanked them for their courtesy. There are many descriptions that can be applied to Thai employers, but 'professional' is certainly not one of them!

By Kevin, Lampang (25th March 2011)

What about the schools that instruct you to attach your documents and prefer them to be in word 2003?
Might as well go ground slogging and meet the director face to face, I'm sure the Fed Ex special delivery would be pushed aside and perhaps discarded.
While they find out more about you could be a convenient time to hand them a copy of your CV and other supporting documents for their perusal. ;)

By Wayfarer, Thailand (10th March 2011)

Send your resume as a PDF-file which can be opened on any computer and will always look exactly the same as on yours.
I agree with Baris; copying a CV or even cover letter in the body of an email looks sloppy. Surely decent recruiters have anti-virus software installed.

By Tom, Bangkok (17th November 2010)

Another tip when sending a Cover Letter. Most employeers have different Word Processors, Mac, MS word, Office and so on.
A tip would be to create your resume in Notepad and save it as a text file. Cute and past that in your email. Makes is much easier for an employer to read.

By charlie, Thailand (10th September 2010)

Forget sending emails to anyone if you want to be taken seriously. If everyone is sending email applications, and you do the same, you're hardly going to stand out in the crowd are you?

Send a personal letter and resume to the school director by EMS FedEx registered delivery.

Guess which gets opened first? the 120 emails in the inbox or the Fed Ex special delivery that just walked in the door? More importantly, when you call to follow up on your letter, the school director already knows who you are :-)

By Jimmy, Bangkok (11th August 2010)

Interesting read, I am just about to finish my first semester and I have been apply for jobs. I have sent around 15 emails and only heard back from two, I have to admit its probably down to lazy emails.

By MARIO, (18th April 2010)

I think maybe BARIS has his priorities out of order. Why is he worried about commenting on CVs and whether they should or shouldn't be sent as attachments when, by reading his recent comment, it appears he needs serious help with his English grammar. Please tell me he's NOT an EFL teacher!!!

By Thaiteacher, Thailand (20th March 2010)


I am agree with you at some points but not at some points...

You say that it may not be a good idea to send your CV/resume as an attachment. I am disagree with this one.

1) To send it as an attachment shows professionalism
2) If you don't send it as an attachment, it means you must copy paste into your e-mail... I think it is funny. Because of the format, size, etc.

Another one is, avoiding long letters... I think this depends on where you are sending it. It is always useful to give a basic or a short background or write a cover letter. Yes no need to write your life story, but they would like to see something.

Anyway, thank you for the advice.

By BARIS, Thailand (19th February 2010)

I have probably done at least two things mentioned above. I need to start being more creative and persistant with these job apps.

By Payal, Meh (11th February 2010)

Interesting read, I am just about to finish my first semester and I have been apply for jobs. I have sent around 15 emails and only heard back from two, I have to admit its probably down to lazy emails.
e.g "I seen this position advertised on ajarn.com, I am very interested and would like to be considered."
I didn't realise there was that much competition for teaching jobs!

By Martin, Ratchaburi (21st January 2010)

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