Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to Apply for a Teaching Job: What NOT to do

This post was first published in 2010, but it's still relevant for today's teachers trying to get teaching jobs abroad.  I've updated it for you here.

With September fast approaching, more & more teachers are starting to panic about their job situations and lack thereof.  So they start to look abroad, and apply at the very last minute to teach in London, England with Classroom Canada and Classroom America.  Some of these teachers are fabulous, and have been doing their research and will be ready to depart in the next two months.  I don't judge them - I myself applied at the very last minute to teach in the UK and was on the plane in my own classroom within one month of applying.  I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for that last minute panicked decision.

I do, however, judge teachers' applications by their cover letters & CV's.  Every once in a while, I figure it's good to point out the glaring mistakes I see almost every day.

1.  Don't write "Dear Sirs," I got this one yesterday and my jaw dropped.  It shouldn't - I should be well used to this one by now, but I'm always shocked to see "Dear Sirs" on a Cover Letter.  

At first I wondered, "Maybe they are ESL?"  But no, this particular teacher has years of experience teaching in Canadian public schools & even has some senior management experience.  Shocking right?

Don't write "Dear Sirs."  It should be very obvious why not, but since I clearly need to spell this one out, here goes.  Education is made up of women and men.  In fact, ALL occupations in the world are now made up of women as well as men.  Writing "Dear Sirs" shows your assumption that senior management is made up of men.  In this case (and in many, many others), it's not.   

Oh, and I have a name.  Find it. Use it.  Get an interview.  Yes, it is that easy.  Use "Dear Sirs" though and  good bye madam.

2.  Don't write about how this teaching job will be so good for you.  You want the job - of course it will be good for you!  Why are you the right teacher for this job?  What will you add to the school?  What experience do you have?  Be specific and don't fluff it up to fill the page.  When applying to teach in a specific location, talk about why you love that place.  So, if you want to teach in London, tell me why.

You can apply anywhere in the world, so why London? 

If you are applying to teach with Classroom Canada, why this agency?  There are hundreds and we're all very different.  So why us?  Don't know?  Go back and do your research!  Then apply. It only takes a day online to find out about us - I think we're worth at least one day. 

3.  Don't just send a CV.  Don't be lazy.  Write a cover letter.

If you're still not sure how to write a great cover letter that will get you a teaching interview, read this post.  In it, I show you an outstanding cover letter that I actually read over & over again because I was so dang excited.  When I interviewed the teacher, I asked if I could use her letter as an example of what to do and she agreed.  And guess what? She's now teaching in London with us and doing a fantastic job.  No big surprise there!

For my advice on how to write a CV or Resume, see this post.  And finally, for the teacher photograph, read this post by my sister. It's hilarious and very useful.

Resources for Teaching in London
Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
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Canadians & Americans in the UK blog  


  1. I see from your profile that you are interested in England! Have you checked out my blog yet?


    I post photographs of glorious vistas of the countryside and interesting tidbits of Great Britain for the pleasure of Anglophiles everywhere! There’s also something special every Wednesday…. Have a look, maybe you’ll join the ever-growing list of followers!

  2. This just made me laugh...I'm ESL and would never even thought of writing Dear Sirs haha

  3. haha, yes indeed! But you are ESL Canadian - I was meaning more ESL from a foreign country where women might not have as many rights...

    Alas, no such luck. At least we can giggle about it right?


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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