There is a shortage of foreign English teachers in Thailand. Nevertheless, one job posting online often results in more than 100 applicants. That’s some tough competition, and since you never get a second chance to leave a first impression. Your initial e-mail to the recruiter is therefore extremely important.
I have helped to recruit teachers for a number of schools and over time have received hundreds of resumés and application letters. This post highlights some of the most common mistakes I have seen people make. Some of these mistakes may just be minor inconveniences for the recruiter, but some of them may cause a recruiter to delete your application right away.
Using poor English
The spelling and grammar you use in your application tells a recruiter a lot about you. See my previous post How to NOT get a job as English Teacher for an example of a horribly composed cover letter. Sure, that cover letter is an extreme example of poor English language skills, but as an English teacher looking for a job, you won’t be given too much room for bad English. You will be judged by your spelling and grammar more than for most other jobs. Make sure you double check the language in your resumé and cover letter.
Adding too many attachments
The purpose of your initial e-mail or online submission is NOT to get the job. The purpose is to open the doors and get to the second step in the recruitment process: the job interview.
All too often, applicants send e-mails with way too many attachments. I’ve processed application e-mails that had a whopping 20 MB worth of documents attached: in addition to the required resumé, they’ve included copies of their passport and even drivers license as well as all their degrees, diplomas, and certificates. In addition, some of those applicants felt compelled to send numerous photos of themselves in various school settings. Not only take such attachments valuable disk-space on a recruiter’s computer, they also slow down incoming mail. Your first e-mail to a recruiter should only contain your resumé with photo and a cover letter. If it is compelling enough, you’ll get to the next step in the hiring process and will be asked to show your qualifying documents.
Assuming your e-mail and your resumé will stay together
I have seen many resumés that didn’t include an e-mail address and/or a telephone number. This information was only on the cover letter or in the e-mail body. I can only assume that the applicant thought that the e-mail and the attached documents would forever stay together. They often don’t. Recruiters often save resumés on their hard drive and either archive or even delete the original e-mail (especially if they are several megabytes in size). If a recruiter later opens your resumé and they don’t find your contact information on it, they will either have to look for the original e-mail to contact you; or worse, they simply won’t contact you. I can’t stress enough how important it is to include your contact details (phone and e-mail) on your resumé.
Attaching your resumé in an uncommon format
Do not send your resumé or other attachments in an unusual format, like Open Office’s .odt or Apple’s .pages. Recruiters often aren’t all that computer literate and if they can’t open an attachment, they ignore your application rather than contacting you to resend it in a format they can open.
Also, do not attach your resumé as an image file (jpg, png, gif). Recruiters sometimes copy information from your resumé and paste it into their database. This is not possible with an image file and a recruiter will have type in your information, which is cumbersome and error prone. In such a situation, some will opt to just ignore your application.
The best format for your document is PDF, because it’s readable across computer platforms (Windows, Mac OS, and Linux). Alternatively, a Word file (.doc or .docx) will work as well.
Not giving your resumé a meaningful name
The most common file names I see for resumés is either “CV” or “resume”. Recruiters typically save your document on their computer’s disk and this will require them to spend extra time adding your name to the file. A good way to save your resumé is to put your first and last name in file name of your resumé. For example “JohnSmith_CV” or “Resume_JohnSmith” or any other document name that will include your first and last name..
Submitting your application repeatedly
Don’t submit your resumé several times for the same job – it makes you look desperate, impatient, and pushy. Trust that your submission made it the first time. If you don’t hear back immediately (or at all), your resumé might not have matched the criteria of the recruiter. If you do want to send it a second time, wait four or five days and then send it to the recruiter again with a note that you didn’t hear back from them and want to make sure they’ve received your resumé. If you still don’t hear back from them, it’s safe to assume that they are not interested.
Assuming recruiters won’t look at your Facebook profile
Try this experiment: enter your e-mail address on Google as a search term. You might be surprised at all the results you’re getting. The top links often include a link to your Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ profiles. Now imagine that a recruiter is doing the same thing when they receive your application. Whenever I’m recruiting teachers, I do a quick search for all the candidates that have made it to the short list. I’ve just recently removed a candidate from the short list and added their resumé to the much larger stack of rejected applications because they listed their languages on Facebook as “English, Drunk, and Gibberish”. This just sends the wrong signal to a recruiter. What may be funny to your friends may be a red flag to a recruiter.
Whenever you are looking for a job, prepare your documents and then step back and look at them through the eyes of a recruiter. Put yourself into their position of having to sift through hundred(s) of applications and do anything you can to simplify things for them while at the same time putting your best foot forward.
Good luck on your search for a suitable home for your teaching talents! And please share your experiences during your job hunt for an English teacher job in the comments below. Did I leave out any big mistake you have made or seen?