Ajarn Street

Tips on landing your dream English teaching job

Sound advice from an interview expert

The person who gets the job is usually the one who knows the most about how to get hired. 

Here are some proven ways to increase your chances of landing your dream job.

Proofread Your Resume — Again 

If you’re trying to get someone to pay you money to teach English, you’ve got to use the ‘the product’ correctly.  That means absolutely no typos and grammar mistakes. These can be the kiss of death in your job search. 

Here’s the tip:  have a friend or colleague proofread your resume and cover letter. Our brain tricks us into thinking what we are reading is correct. It allows us to read what we think we should see on the page instead of actually reading the text word for word and letter by letter. 

If you’re like just about everyone else — and can read this message — you’ll need to have other people proof your prose. 

Can Your Resume Be Read in 6 Seconds?

That’s about how much time a recruiter will typically spend on one. Resumes aren’t read; they’re scanned. The Power Resume format gets rid of the “objective statement” — what you want. We employ a summary that tells the hiring authority what you offer. In about 60 words or six seconds.

Do Your Research

Got an interview lined up? So find out everything you can about the school. Google them. Go to their website. Read everything under “About Us.”  

It's not enough to know what they do; you have to know what they've done lately. Check if they have a Facebook page or other social media.  Scroll down their timeline to get a sense of the recent activities. And if you know who you are interviewing with, see if they have a LinkedIn account.  

You want to get a sense of their mission — who they are, what they do and what they’re trying to achieve. The more you understand that, the more intelligent you’ll sound during the interview.

Dress for Success

While it may sound obvious, it’s important for the interviewer to be able to picture you as part of the team. So dress for interviews like you would on the first day of school.  The buyer—the school’s hiring authority—is making a purchase decision in hiring you. Help reduce their risk by looking like they could present you to your future students’ parents.  

Appreciate Thai Ways

Show some understanding for the basic Thai expressions such as knowing how to wai and say “Sawadee” and watch others to know if you should take your shoes off when enter a building (or noting the scores of shoes on the outside shoe rack.)

It also important to keep smiling and never ever get angry. If you lose your cool in Thailand, you’ve lost, no matter how right you are.

There’s no need to master Thai, but a few key words go a long way. Thais are super polite. Let them handle the rest as they educate you to their world.

Pound the Pavement

With today’s digital devices, in just a few clicks you can submit your resume and cover letter by email. All that’s great, but because it’s so easy that too many applicants think their job is done.  Why not follow-up with a phone call? It’ll help you stand out—and may provide you will valuable information.

Even better: why not drop in to the school itself with extra copies of your resume in hand?  Again, you will differentiate yourself from the herd. Just ask the reception for the English department and you may be suddenly sitting in front of someone who can recommend or even hire you. 

A living, breathing teacher is much easier to evaluate and remember than a paperless resume sent through a faceless email message.

No appointments are often needed. And if they’re busy, simply schedule to come back when they are free.

A lot of great jobs are rarely advertised — they’re found through good research. Today, networking by social media can be particularly effective, but don’t ignore tried and true old fashioned face-to-face meetings.

Coach Your References

Most job candidates simply ask people to be references for them and get their contact details.  

That’s a start, but there’s much more you can do. 

Coach your references.  Many will only know you from one of the places you’ve worked. Send them an updated copy of your resume—in a thank you note—so  they can talk more intelligently about you—as well as to refer to other experience points where they did not even know you.

It's important that you maintain your relationships with influential people in your career. Keep these connections fresh so that you can call upon them when you need them. 

You’re a TEFL Grad — Show it!

Try to think of some way to bring evidence of your skills to the interview. Take in copies of your best lesson plans to show how you’ve been professionally trained to develop a classroom strategy that makes for a highly successful lesson. It could also be used if a demo class is required.

The ‘communicative approach’ to language teaching is being adopted into many Thai schools by a successful multiyear project led by The British Council.   There may be opportunities to talk about the ESA or other communicative methodologies. Review your TEFL terms, how you approach classroom management and be prepared how to discuss why it’s not good to use Thai in the classroom.

Thank You

Two magical words.  In the hundreds of interviews I’ve done, I can count the Thank You letters/emails I received afterwards on one hand.

Thanking your interviewer for their time through an email isn’t just polite. It also demonstrates follow-up on your part.  

Additionally, you can re-answer a question that you think you didn’t handle as well as you could have during the actual interview.  (Guess which answer will be remembered.) 

Your Thank You Note will also keep your name top of mind, i.e. ‘remembered’.  That’s important in jobs with many applicants.

Kevin Cullen is the Jobs Coach at Vantage TEFL Certification. He’s formulated scores of Power Resumes and coached his students into top jobs throughout Thailand and around the world. 

You might also be interested in

Power resume! - When you put your resume in front of an employer, you are the product.


I found the article to be a positive and concisely presented approach to the topic, and would have liked it to have given more coverage to the Thai setting ('appreciate Thai ways'). It was my experience that Thai ways were vastly different to the ones generally prevailing in the west, and anything that can help address that - in terms of patterns of thought and action- would be great.

By David, UK (27th November 2018)

There's some good advice here although I think much of it quite general.

My resume breaks with a number of these ideas. I think this would be more beneficial if it were really tailored to the Thai or even Bangkok market.

I'm not going to delve into what works for me because that shares what I believe to be an edge. I will state though humblebrag is that my resume is reponded to 3.5 of 5 jobs. My sense is the positions that did not respond I was shooting sky high qualifications, salary requirements, over qualified. Maybe the cover and resume too detailed for a Thai.

I spend way too much time on my resume, but I'm happy with the result. In fact, I'm working on a CV/portfolio which I don't need. It's a nice feeling pushing 60 and bring a hot commodity.

In closing if you could share any resume tips specifically related to Thai public schools that would be great

By Jim Beam, The Big Smoke (27th November 2018)

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