The Low-down on Finding a Job Teaching English in Thailand
Applying From Abroad vs. Being in Thailand
Newbie. If you aren’t here, in Thailand, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get a job offer. It happens, but don’t expect to get hired until you’re here.
But why? It’s easier and faster to hire someone ALREADY here. And that ALWAYS wins in this game, especially in Thailand (EVEN IF THEY ARE LESS QUALIFIED). Why bother with someone in South Africa when you can find someone already in Thailand NOW!?
Why deal with all the extra paperwork when you can avoid it by hiring someone who is here? Why bother at all when you have ZERO guarantee that the prospective teacher will come? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” A warm body today is better than the perfect teacher who might never come.
Veteran Teacher. If you’ve taught English in Korea, Spain, etc., it SLIGHTLY increases the likelihood that you can get a job without being in Thailand. Why? Well, you have experience, so an employer MIGHT (unlikely) think you’re worth the risk. Your experience shows that you’re a DOER and not just someone dreaming of teaching abroad. This means you’re more likely to follow through on coming.
However, since it’s easier and faster to hire someone in Thailand, especially given that job openings happen at the spur of the moment, you will likely be passed over for less desirable candidates who are already in Thailand.
Advice for Applying from Abroad
Start the application process before you come. Maybe 2 weeks beforehand. Make connections with employers. Schedule interviews. But intend to be here to go to interviews. Also, if you’re applying from abroad, you will be taken more SERIOUSLY, if you provide them with a copy of your flight itinerary.
Word of Mouth Jobs Teaching English in Thailand
Another reason to be here is that many jobs, especially the BEST jobs, never make it into the job market. Instead, an employer tells their employeesabout a vacancy. Those employees then turn around and tell their friends. This process taps deeply into human psychology and sociology. When you get ‘referred’ you automatically pass the ‘sniff-test’. Your friend’s referral ‘vouches’ for you, and employers figure, “If I like this guy, and he’s putting his name on the line, then I’m probably going to like the guy he referred.” This process is a lot faster and easier. Have I mentioned that they like to do things fast and easy here?!
Solution. Get out and get to know people. Personally, I don’t recommend going out and ‘targeting’ people, but get out there, develop relationships, and it will come naturally.
P.S. Word of mouth is not necessarily recommended for your first job. We recommend going with an agency. As you’re doing that job, you’ll develop relationships, which will lead to word of mouth opportunities. Also, people are not likely to share good word of mouth opportunities with people who just arrived. You gotta earn your stripes first!
Websites for Teaching English Jobs in Thailand
Super cool Facebook Group. Seriously f’ing cool. Especially for a newbie to Thailand!! You MUST join it! This particular one is for Bangkok (BKK), but you can find it for other locations. If you have any questions about Thailand, especially Bangkok, there will be someone there to answer it for you. The collective knowledge of this FB Group is unsurpassed. Guys like me had to work hard for 5+ years to get this knowledge and now you can access it, plus 1000’s of other people’s, by simply posting on the group.
Caveat. There are some know-it-alls, bitter expats, etc., and sometimes it turns into a pissing contest. Do your best to keep people focused on the topic, and they will.
This is my personal favorite for finding teaching jobs. They seem to have all the jobs the others have + some really interesting jobs not posted elsewhere. I also like that it’s a FREE SERVICE. This means they don’t try to push you to a particular employer who paid for advertising (e.g. Ajarn.com).
I used to love it, but now it’s a strictly for PROFIT site. This means they promote the companies who give them the most money, not because they believe in the company. Also, their blog is full of misinformation. It seems like their writers want to discourage people from teaching English in Thailand by making it sound difficult. That makes sense, because encouraging people to come means more competition for jobs. Lame! However, there are a lot of jobs on the website.
This is for jobs in general, but it has teaching jobs as well. It certainly has a greater variety and more interesting jobs than the 2 above.
Good old craigslist. It doesn’t have quite the same following in Thailand like it does in the US. That means 2 things. 1., not as many jobs get posted. 2., American employers do post on there because of their familiarity with it. 3., Because it doesn’t have quite the international following, there is the potential that there is less competition there.
A newer site. I’m not particularly sold on it. I don’t like how they don’t post the job listing date. Am I applying to a posting from 1 week ago, 1 month ago, 1 year ago, or what? That fact makes me a little sketchy. Also, it looks like they are simply re-posting ads from the other websites. If you have nobody to drink beer with, then check it out, because some of the ads did look interesting.
Cold-Calling | Walking-In
In Thailand, there is NOT a normal HR hiring process like I’m used to in the United States. The first acceptable candidate to walk through the door gets the job. I learned this after 2 weeks of job hunting. I saw a job posting online. It had JUST gone live. I admittedly sent my resume. I waited two hours. I called to follow-up to see if they received my resume. Job filled. And this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill job. This was a management position at an International University! To say I was confused is an understatement. As I’ve lived in Thailand, I’ve come to understand the rule of the “first acceptable candidate to walk through the door gets the job”. It’s not always the case, but I work under that assumption. When I assist people who are struggling to find work, I tell them this rule. Inevitably, they immediately get a job.
Cold-Calling. Now, I personally don’t cold call schools about jobs, but it does WORK! Dozens of people I’ve trained have taken my advice on persistence and initiative and gotten a dream job! It blows my mind when I see them get International School & University jobs when they JUST completed their TEFL training. However, THEY put themselves in the right place at the right time. INITIATIVE! And sometimes that’s all there is to it. Do you have the guts?!!
Unless you were given a direct line to the hiring staff, then you have no idea who is on the other line. Assume that what you’re doing is unexpected and that they won’t necessarily know how to process the request. Make sure the person who answers the phone gets you to the right person who would know about these things. You might say, “I’m calling to talk to the person who hires teachers.” Obviously, the more you know about that person (name???), the better.
Walking-In. Likewise, the staff won’t be used to this, so they might not know how to react. The point is, tread lightly and be polite, not pushy. However, be firm in what you’re trying to accomplish; get in touch with whoever is responsible for making hiring decisions. Perhaps, “I’m here to talk with the person responsible for hiring. Is that person available?” They’ll probably say “No.”, so be prepared to leave a phone number with a note (business card???) or a resume. Most people leave a resume. If I were to do a walk-in, I’d be inclined to leave a business card or my name, phone number, and a reason for them to contact me.
Hey, you might get lucky and walk-in the same day that someone quits. (That’s more common than you think.)
Teaching Career Progress in Thailand – A Plan for You!
- Start With an Agency. Plan to start with an agency making 35,000 baht/month. If you’re able to do better, great! If not, no worries!
- Second Semester. By this time, you’ve got a feel for Thailand and you’ve made connections. You should be gearing up to move on to a job in the 40,000-45,000 baht/month range, if not more. Plus, you should have developed tutoring gigs on the side to add another 5,000-15,000 baht/month.
- Sitting Pretty. Honestly, most people never make it to #2 because they don’t have someone guiding them like this blog. So if you make it to #2, you’re sitting pretty!
- Ambitious Sort. The next step would be a International School, Private School, Corporate gig or University. If this is your goal, and you follow this blog’s advice, you’ll get there. For sure. Because most people don’t even know that it’s a goal, never mind that they don’t know how to get there.
Your Dream Job Location
It helps if you have a general idea of WHERE you want to teach in Thailand. If you don’t, don’t worry. You should be able to find a job in the location you want. There’s plenty of availability of jobs all over, so you’ll get to go where you want to teach. 50% of people want to teach in the big cities (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya) and 50% want to teach in the smaller city. In the end, everyone gets to go to the place that’s right for them.
Dream big. Have a plan. Work your plan.
Read this blog. It was designed to help you plan.
Ask us ANY question in the comments below.
We love helping!