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Securing an ESL Teaching Job Overseas

Securing an ESL Teaching Job Overseas

Candace Davies

Tapping into the Hidden Job Market

You already know that landing a great job requires a proactive approach using a variety of job search methods. But as an ESL educator looking for overseas positions, you may be confused about how to apply vague job-hunting principles to your situation. The most effective ESL search strategy focuses on what experts call the “hidden job market.”

A “hidden job” is a position that is not publicly advertised. You won’t find hidden jobs by poring over newspaper ads, Internet job boards, or company websites. In the case of overseas ESL opportunities, it may seem that responding to posted ads on the Internet or in print publications is the only way to find open positions. It’s certainly a good idea to follow up on any ads that appear to be an obvious fit for your credentials and interests. However, don’t stop there! You may miss out on dozens of alternate possibilities.

To find hidden ESL jobs, you need a targeted approach. Simply responding to posted ads uses a process of elimination: you decide whether to apply for the position based on whether the stated requirements match your skills. In contrast, an effective search for hidden jobs starts with self-assessment. You will develop a statement that describes your skills, credentials, and interests. Then you will use this statement as a foundation for the remainder of your targeted search.

In your self-assessment, consider the following questions:

• What are the strengths of my teaching experience? What ESL-related credentials do I hold? Am I willing to pursue additional certification in order to teach overseas?

• Is my heart set on teaching in a specific region? (Note: Many online sources warn that Europe is a particularly competitive market.) How thoroughly have I researched the culture of that region? Am I familiar with the teaching expectations and style of educators in that region?

• What are my requirements for salary and benefits? Do I intend to live frugally and put money in savings, or do I want to be able to enjoy local culture and do some traveling during my assignment?

• Do I want to stay within the traditional framework of affiliation with a specific university or language school? Am I interested in alternative types of ESL contract work? (Rik Ruiter, author of Highway to ESL, points out that there may be openings in venues ranging from multinational corporations to hotel chains.) What about English for Specific Purposes (ESP, which focuses on specific job-related contexts such as accounting or nursing)?

• Do I have the financial means to arrange my own travel and visas, or do I need to restrict my choice of employers to those who are willing to cover these costs?

Now that you’ve listed exactly what you’re looking for, you’ll be ready to take concrete steps to uncover ESL’s hidden job market overseas. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article, which will explain how to use networking and cold calls as effective strategies in your search for overseas positions.

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