Technology post-CELTA (1): technology for finding work in English language teaching

Get on Twitter!

You want a job? Get yourself on Twitter!

For many people, taking a CELTA course is the start of their career in English language teaching (ELT, aka TEFL). Post-CELTA, one of the first ways you are probably going to use technology for is to help you find that all important first job as an English teacher.

Here's a few tips, which come from many years of coming into contact — often thanks to technology — with many, many people looking for TEFL jobs.

  • What is your email?
    If you have an email address that sounds unprofessional, ditch it — and make that the first thing you do. Ideally, you want your own name. What you don't want is something like (and I've seen far worse). The problem is this: do you want to run the risk of putting them off you?
  • Do you look like a mad axeman/woman?
    While you're at it, get yourself a decent, professional-looking profile picture, use the same one on social media if you're there publicly, and attach it to your CV. Note that "professional-looking" is virtually impossible to achieve with a webcam (or a selfie-stick!), and you want it without dark glasses, the Eiffel Tower, your boy-/girlfriend or your cat (etc.). Your photo is the first impression you make — and you don't get a chance to make a second.
  • What's you digital footprint?
    You might also want to actually try searching online for yourself and see what you (and a potential employer) can find. What have you tweeted about? Do you have a public blog? Start restricting who can see what if necessary!
  • Is your CV perfect?
    Then you want to make sure your CV is up-to-date and typo-free, and includes your nice new profile picture, in a version that you can send to potential employers — best as a .pdf document
  • Are you on LinkedIn?
    Even if you're not really much into social media, get yourself on LinkedIn, with your updated CV and — two vital things — your location and your profile picture. Your location is important because LinkedIn will find you and send you job offers based on that. Not all of them will be in ELT so if you do have other qualifications and experience, you want to decide whether or not to highlight them. And LinkedIn is for professionals — you really are expected to appear without your cat!
  • Is your CV online elsewhere?
    There are lots of other places you can have an online CV which it can be interesting to provide a link to in the resumé you're sending to employers. I have mine on, which is a site I can recommend (though if I were actually looking for work, I'd spend some time and effort to tailor it to the kind of job I was looking for). There are lots of others but note that you can be a bit too clever and fancy with some of them. I've seen some which probably didn't in fact impress any Director of Studies (DoS) who ever looked at them. (Perhaps it should be said that the average DoS in the average language school isn't… Well, let's just say that they are not usually a technological whiz kid.)
  • ELT jobs sites
    You then want to actually start looking for jobs, with probably being the best, most scam-free site for TEFL jobs (and do beware of scams — which would include any job that requires you to pay to obtain it). Some of the big school chains (such as Bell, EF, International House) have their own recruitment sites which are well worth checking out. Some of them will require you to register — worth doing if you're seeking work.

First coffee, then breakfast, then Twitter, THEN class!

You're looking for work? First Twitter, then coffee, then the paper!

  • Get on Twitter
    If you're not on Twitter, you maybe want to be, at least until you find a job: you can be "private" and you don't actually need to "tweet" — but follow on Twitter (and other ELT jobs sites) and you can access the jobs before they're immediately snapped up.
  • And for your next job…
    Once you've got your first job — and are maybe looking for your next (!) — in your next interview it's good to be able to talk about something your learners have done with technology. I'd suggest that's more important than being able to say what you can do with technology, and some interesting project work your learners have done will probably be a plus against your name with any forward-thinking DoS.

Coming up in this "Technology post-CELTA" series

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  1. For those of you who are non-native speakers of English, looking for work (and finding it hard!) in language academies, check out the excellent initiative that is TEFL Equity Advocates, which attempts to promote "equal professional opportunities for 'native' and 'non-native' English speaking teachers in ELT"

    As a non-native speaker, you can find yourself rejected by schools. If you sign up for their newsletter, they'll send you a useful guide on what to do to minimise the chances of rejection.

  2. So many of the wonderful, most talented English teachers I've known in the last 35 years have been non-natives!

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