Online English teaching has boomed in recent years with more people seeking flexible remote work lifestyles.
ESL has opened the door for many aspiring digital nomads as it's relatively easy to transition into.
The problem is a lot of people have the same idea. As more teachers apply for online ESL jobs, the harder landing a job gets.
It's now essential for ESL teachers to stand out from the crowd to get hired. In this post, I'm going to share with you the things I wish I knew when starting out in ESL.
Follow every step in this guide and I'm confident you'll achieve ESL success.
1. Get an accredited TEFL certificate online
This is the most basic, but important step.
A TEFL certificate shows you're serious and is required by most English teaching platforms.
To put it simply, without a TEFL certificate, you are limited when it comes to jobs.
Even if you get hired without a TEFL certificate, expect lower pay and fewer options to progress in your ESL career.
Luckily, TEFL courses are available at very affordable prices online.
However, there are a dozen trusted TEFL course providers online that offer online teaching certificates at decent prices.
2. Become a specialty ESL teacher with a niche
I recently wrote this article on why ESL teachers should get IELTS certified.
Back when I was struggling for ESL students, I took a cheap IELTS certificate online and added the title: "IELTS Specialist" to my teaching profiles and - boom!
Suddenly I was receiving more student requests as I was appearing in niche teacher searches. This was because a lot of learners are seeking specific specialties.
The more niche your specialty, the more students will pay too.
Some common ESL specialties are IELTS & Business English.
In my opinion, Premier TEFL offers the best range of specialty ESL courses.
3. Write an ESL-specific resume and cover letter
If you're not creating custom ESL resumes, then you need to start.
If you have ESL experience, then great. Beef it up and add it to your resume to show off your skills.
For those who don't have any teaching experience to draw from I recommend applying for Preply, Cambly, and Palfish to try and get started. I wrote about the best companies for new teachers to get hired here.
4. Create a well-scripted bio
It's common for platforms to require a bio in the application process or once you're hired.
Unfortunately, bios are commonly overlooked by teachers who quickly whip up a generic few sentences about how they love to travel and learn about new cultures.
This is a mistake and a missed opportunity.
Students often skim bios for specific keywords and terms about what they desire to learn about. After all, they're the ones spending money and they want to maximize their dollar.
This is why bios are so important.
Make your bio a masterpiece with clear and spaced sentences and use headings. Always use niche keywords that will attract students and highlight your teaching strengths.
Before you submit, have Grammarly proofread your work. Click here to get Grammarly for free.
5. Upload an awesome (but professional) introduction video
Not every company requires an introduction video - but send one anyway.
Sending introduction videos shows ESL employers that you have confidence and initiative.
Make sure to dress appropriately, have a non-distracting background (clear walls work best), and sit at a desk with a professional headset.
You can upload it to Youtube with a private link. Include this link with every CV and cover letter you send.
6. Gain experience with conservational platforms
You may have heard of Cambly, Preply, and Palfish. These platforms focus mostly on casual conversational teaching and often hire ESL teachers without a TEFL or degree. The trade-off is generally low pay.
However, these platforms are great for gaining experience, getting comfortable on camera with new students, and beefing up your ESL resume.
Another advantage of these English teaching platforms is they don't require fixed schedules. This means you can log in and work when you want.
7. Save helpful ESL resources
Always have resources and conversation starters handy.
There is nothing worse than awkward silence in ESL. Whether you're in a job interview, mock class, or with a student, keep resources open in another tab so you can draw from them if need be.
ESLdiscussions.com is a great resource for conversation starters.
There are hundreds of ESL resources online - find what works best for you.
8. Stay positive, keep applying
Unfortunately, not all online ESL companies will get back to your job application promptly.
The fact that there are hundreds of ESL companies out there means you have to spend hours applying for jobs, which can be disheartening when you don't hear back.
This is a reality of online ESL job hunting, unfortunately.
To make life easier, create a folder for your ESL resume, bio answers, introduction video link, headshots, certificates to speed up application processes.
Keep your head up and keep applying.
Bonus tip: 9. Create an ESL website
More and more ESL teachers are opting to go solo as independent freelancers.
While I don't recommend this for new teachers without experience, I do recommend creating an online teaching website that acts as a portfolio.
Having a website will impress employers and students and help you appear legitimate and professional.
And the best part, once you've gained adequate confidence and experience, you'll be set up to become your own boss.
Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to create an ESL website and secure a free domain name.