Teaching online is one of the best ways to build a location independent career as a digital nomad. The freedom of working remotely, from anywhere, while seeing the world and making a living at the same time is what got me into this business in the first place.
It is important to remember, however, that the absence of an office does not permit an absence of professionalism.
At my company Live Lingua, we receive over 100 emails per week from online teachers seeking employment. Generally speaking, this is a good thing, because we want to curate a team of the best language teachers out there.
However, I am constantly surprised at the percentage of applicants who simply have no clue how to begin a professional relationship. There are basic no-nos to avoid when you apply to teach online.
I’m a friendly guy. I certainly don’t expect applicants to kiss my feet. But at the same time, we’re running a business here and I do expect general professionalism. Part of applying for a job is proving to the employer that you will represent the brand well in all situations. When the first point of contact leaves me shaking my head in disbelief, the odds of that person getting hired are tossed out the window.
How NOT To Apply to Teach Online
Here is an example of some of the ways I regularly see applicants BEGIN their initial email:
How much do you pay?
- First of all, an introduction would be nice! Job interviews should be reciprocal, and we encourage applicants to ask questions during the process, including this one. But there’s a time and place, and it sure as hell isn’t at the top of your initial inquiry.
How soon can I start?
- Approaching a cold email assuming that he or she already has the job is my biggest pet peeve. The irony here lies in the fact that we hire regularly and are always looking for good talent. Conducting yourself well throughout the interview process, demonstrating your ability to work with students, and mastery of your native tongue (or subject matter) are the key ways to impress our management team. Generally speaking, those are basic requirements for ANY job in the online educational sphere. When an applicant does these things, their odds of getting hired are high!
How many hours can I teach?
- Again, there is a time and place for this question.
Tell me about your business?
- Interviewing 101: Research the company you are applying to before We’re a web-based company with (at least, I hope) a thorough website. You took the time to find our contact info, why not take a few more minutes and browse around!
How do I apply for a job?
- We have a “Jobs” page listed just below the “Contact” line at the bottom of our site. This question is a great way to immediately let us know you haven’t read through the website at all, or taken the time to learn about the company.
Don’t be hostile
We’ve seen applicants bring an aggressive attitude to their interview, exactly the opposite of what our company strives for. I’ve had emails come in saying simply, “Can I have a job?”
Getting a job teaching online means the applicant will be working directly with the students, the paying base of the business. Keep that in mind when you apply to teach online!
This stuff goes when you apply to teach online at an online private school, teaching music lessons, language lessons, tutoring students in math – whatever the outlet, basic rules of professionalism still apply.
Don’t ignore instructions in the job posting
Many, if not most, job postings will include instructions for how to apply. Read these thoroughly and follow the directions carefully. It’s blatantly obvious when someone doesn’t do this. If the post shares a link to an application, don’t email the contact listed instead of filling out the app. If the form asks for a CV and cover to be attached to the email, send the documents as a PDF attachment instead of pasting into the email body. Following instructions makes an applicant look great right off the bat!
Don’t distract the hiring manager from determining if you’re qualified
The main objective of a job interview is to determine whether or not a candidate is qualified for the position. By asking these questions before the interviewer has a chance to determine this, an applicant is making a terrible first impression. In our business, the teachers are the core of the company and we value them immensely. We certainly aren’t going to add a teacher to the team that doesn’t meld with the company and its mission.
I love to see an initial contact that explains why a candidate is interested, what their qualifications are, and that includes contact information including a phone number and email address.
Keep it natural
When applying for a job teaching online, treat it as any other job application. Put your best foot forward. Highlight your experience and your areas of expertise, and be friendly and professional. When you apply to teach online, let your work and personality lead the charge.
I offer this advice to job applicants across the sphere of online education: Be conversational. Build a bond. And most importantly, don’t come across as a) expectant or b) desperate. My management team works hard to have a positive relationship with our teachers and to ensure that both parties are happy. In the ongoing pursuit of a freedom-based lifestyle, we’re all in this together. But business is business, and that needs to be part of the relationship.
If you can manage those things, you’re already a step ahead of more than half of applicants.