How to prepare for the TEFL hiring season

Not all times of year are created equal when it comes to hunting for TEFL jobs. That’s an important thing to know if you’re on the search for work, no matter if you’re keen to bag your first teaching position in a popular hotspot like Thailand or are chasing niche business English posts in the Middle East. Basically, different places will have more jobs going in different months and getting ahead of the game when it comes to the hiring season can really up your chances of being successful.

This guide has insights into how you can prepare properly for the hiring season. It offers tips on when’s best for getting into gear for the region you’re targeting and how to ready your CV and other details so that they’re primed to go when potential employers come a-calling.

Get to know different hiring seasons for different regions

There’s not just one hiring season in the TEFL industry. There are several. For example, when Europe’s language schools are hunting for teachers in the run up to the start of term in September, it’s all quiet in Central America and the Far East. There are also regions where things don’t follow a trend and you can score positions all year round.

Here’s a look at some of the main hiring seasons in some of the most popular TEFL destinations out there:

  • Europe – Late-August & September for a September or October start, but also in January for a start after the Christmas holidays.
  • Thailand – April and again in October for a start in either May or November (the beginning of the main teaching semesters).
  • Hong Kong, Taiwan, China – July & August for start dates in September. There’s also a short hiring season after Chinese New Year.
  • Middle East – All year.
  • Japan – Major recruitment programs usually ask for applications to be in by December for starts in the following September.
  • Central America – June & July for September starts, then again in January.
  • South America – February & March for starts in May. Demand can remain high until August. Some countries like Peru hire all year round.

Know that not all schools have hiring seasons

It’s important to note that hiring seasons only really apply to public schools and institutions that operate in line with the country’s specific semester dates. Private language schools will often hire all year round, simply because they offer courses all year round and don’t see turnover of teachers as terms come to an end. The upshot? You’re not totally out of luck if you’ve got your heart set on a destination but it’s not the hiring season. Simply pivot to apply for private schools rather than state ones and you’re likely to find that there are still plenty of opportunities around.

Be ready BEFORE the hiring season begins

It’s all very well knowing when the hiring season starts for the region of the world that you want to work in. However, it’s no good starting to prep for your applications after it’s begun. You should start readying your application drive at least three months prior to the peak time, so you’re raring to go as soon as the proverbial whistle blows and you can navigate any extra admin along the way (visas, official documents, etc).

Some destinations buck the trend here. For example, applications for Korean positions starting in September should be in by early spring (April). What’s more, there are some places that make it a little trickier depending on where you’re coming from – a visa and job application for Spain can take up to nine months for US and Canadian citizens!

Know that there’s a hiring season within a hiring season!

The start of the hiring season is the peak of the peak. Most schools will have a general idea of the number of places that they need to fill, as teachers will have usually departed towards the start of the holidays, not the end. That means that the first few weeks are crucial here because they have the most overall jobs on offer. As positions get filled – and they can get filled fast in high-demand locations like Thailand, Korea, and Taiwan – the number of openings you can apply for also diminishes.

Get your documents in order…

What do we mean by prepping for the arrival of the hiring season? We mean getting your documents in order ready to send out to potential employers. First off, the CV. Make sure you’ve included ALL your relevant teaching experience, details about the TEFL course you’ve completed, and any other skills that help you stand out. Next, the cover letter. This is the more tailored part of your application where you can take the chance to really discuss why particular positions suit you. You also might need a copy of your TEFL certificate, which you can get from your course provider.

…And do your homework

We also think it’s wise to use some prep time to do your homework on particular schools you’re looking to apply to. Does a school follow a particular teaching method? What sort of technology do they offer in house? Do they teach adult students or younger learners? What are the weekly hour requirements? You should answer these to ensure that they’re the sort of place you want to work at but also to whiz up on things you might be asked about if you do get an interview.

If you can think of any other tips about the TEFL hiring season, then we’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Alternatively, if you think it’s time you got TEFL qualified and looking for jobs abroad, be sure to check out our courses page.

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