When teachers are looking for a job at home, it's relatively simple - you generally know when schools hire, where they advertise and what they look for. You can drive by the school and get an idea of the neighborhood and the commute. You might even know someone who is at the school so you know the culture and ethos.
But when teaching abroad, it's practically impossible to know all of this.
You probably have little idea of the visa requirements for various foreign countries, whether your education and training will allow you to get approval from the Ministry of Education, what each school is looking for in terms of teaching experience and often times you don't even know the pay and conditions. It's a minefield!
Below are some hints and tips, gathered over my many years of placing teachers into international schools:
1. Rank these three things in order of importance to you: Location, Career or Savings potential. The fact is you probably cannot have it all and it is helpful to think about where you will compromise if you need to. If location is the most important then narrow your search to the area and learn as much as you can about the requirements and types of schools. If career is most important then don't narrow your location too tightly or you might be left with nothing. If savings is the most important then find out which countries have the highest after-tax pay combined with the lowest cost of living. And don't forget the second part of the equation because you could be in for a nasty shock.
2. Do your research! Try to find as much about your target school/region as possible. I have seen far too many teachers decide the only place they want to teach is Dubai only to find out after months of rejected applications that they don't have the right education and training to be hired. (And remember that rules change so you need to make sure you have up to date information!) You need to know what are the ministry requirements; visa restrictions for things like age, nationality and medical conditions; and average salary and package offerings. Our online Learning Portal was developed for teachers to have a starting point.
3. Have a thoughtful plan of action. When you apply for too many jobs at once, unless you are desperate, chances are that your last choice will react first and your first choice will react last. Then you will be stuck with a job offer you are not sure if you want.. yet. So I recommend applying in a staged process- apply to your first choice schools first, then if you don't get a response within a couple of weeks, apply to your next choices, and so on. If things drag on and nothing is happening, go back to your research. You might be applying to the wrong schools or regions.
Because of the complicated nature of deciding where and when to teach abroad, I do recommend working with a reputable agency that specializes in international teaching. A good, informed and ethical agency, like Edvectus, will not push you into a job, but will give you feedback and up-to-date information to help you decide what is right for you, and why.