Don’t Make These 5 Mistakes When Applying to Online Teaching Jobs

By Betsy Ramser Jaime
November 9, 2020

You’ve made the decision to start teaching English online. Congratulations! Now it’s time to do your research, prepare, and show companies why they should hire you. Put in the work upfront so you don’t make these five mistakes when applying to online teaching jobs. 

1. Not Earning the Proper Credentials Before You Apply

When applying for online teaching jobs, don’t make the mistake of contacting employers before you have the right TEFL/TESOL qualifications.  Instead, you should earn them before you apply for jobs. There are a few advantages to doing this. First, as online English positions become more competitive, having the best possible certifications when you apply will set you apart from other applicants. This includes both general teacher-training and specialized training in teaching English online. Also, earning TEFL/TESOL certification beforehand can give you more leverage when receiving your initial salary offer. Once you start teaching, you might not have an opportunity to get a raise for six months or even a year. Therefore, you want to start out with the highest possible hourly wage. 

How to avoid this mistake when applying to online teaching jobs: 



2. Using a Generic or Unpolished Resume

Another common mistake when applying to online teaching jobs is submitting a generic resume that lacks polish, has typos, needs updating, or is not specifically tailored for the job to which you’re applying. For online English-teaching positions, the resume is typically a screening tool to confirm that you have the degree, TEFL/TESOL certifications, and experience that they’re looking for. Today, online English companies are more selective than ever so you need to put in the extra effort to really showcase your qualifications.  

How to avoid this mistake when applying to online teaching jobs: 


  • Use a free graphic design tool, such as Canva, to create a polished and easy-to-read resume.
  • Highlight your TEFL/TESOL certifications on your resume by adding Bridge digital badges for every course you’ve completed.
  • Take advantage of the many free resources available to enhance your TEFL/TESOL resume, such as professional development or affiliations with TESOL organizations. 
  • If you’re planning to teach kids or adults, make sure to highlight any experience with these age groups on your resume.
  • If you don’t have relevant work experience, you can look for ways to gain teaching experience through volunteer work or other avenues, or you can highlight how your non-teaching skills apply to teaching English online.
  • Have a friend or family member proofread your resume for grammar mistakes or typos.

Check out this sample online teaching resume:

Online Teacher Resume infographic

3. Failing to Research the Company to Which You’re Applying  

You might not realize it, but there are hundreds of online English teaching companies! This means that it’s worth taking some time to research different companies and find the ones that are the best fit for you before you apply. For instance, some companies teach toddlers and might be looking for teachers with really high enthusiasm and energy. If you’re a little more reserved, you might find that you’re better suited to work with adults or older children.  Having knowledge of the company will also help you prepare for your interview, should you move to the next stage of the hiring process with an online teaching company.

How to avoid this mistake when applying to online teaching jobs: 


  • Know what criteria you are looking for in a company (such as the age of the students taught, number of students in a class, typical hours, pay rate, company culture, etc.).
  • Make a list of online English companies and as you do your research, track these criteria for each.
  • If you reach the interview stage with a company, go back and do even more research on that company so you’re fully prepared and can ask the right questions during your TEFL job interview.

4. Not Following the Application Instructions 

Each online English company will have slightly different instructions for how they want you to apply. For example, you might be asked to include a short introduction video of yourself or a video of you teaching. Make sure that you read the instructions carefully and follow 100% of what they ask you to do. Showing that you are articulate and can follow instructions will give you a higher chance of moving forward in the application process. Regardless of how qualified you are, if you can’t follow the application instructions, you probably won’t get hired. 

How to avoid this mistake when applying to online teaching jobs: 


  • Read through the online teaching company’s instructions carefully and follow each step of the application process exactly.
  • Watch YouTube videos, read blogs, or connect online with current teachers (such as in the Bridge Teaching English Online Facebook Group) to learn about people’s experiences applying to the company.
  • Realize that it’s common for companies to change their hiring process, so make sure that you’re up to date. 
  • Make a spreadsheet or document to keep track of where you are in the hiring process.

5. Being Unprepared for the Interview or Demo Lesson

Your online interview and/or demo teaching lesson is one of the most important parts of the interview process. The demo lesson is just what it sounds like, an observed demonstration of your online teaching skills in a mock setting (usually using the company’s teaching platform). This is really your chance to impress the interviewer and show them why they should hire you.

If you reach this stage of the application process, the company will give you the lesson to teach and detailed instructions in advance of your interview/demo teaching session, to help you prepare. Some applicants make the mistake of “winging it” and showing up to the interview/demo lesson without being fully prepared. 

How to avoid this mistake when applying to online teaching jobs: 


  • Review the information about the interview and demo lesson that the company has given you and follow the instructions very carefully.
  • Practice the demo lesson many times, until you feel comfortable.
  • Incorporate ESL props into the lesson if you’re working with children.
  • Make sure you have good lighting in your teaching space.
  • Have an engaging and professional teaching background.
  • Create a good first impression by wearing business attire.
  • Show enthusiasm and confidence.
  • Most online English companies (especially those that teach children) are looking for teachers that display lots of excitement. Show enthusiasm! 

Avoiding mistakes when applying to online teaching jobs mostly comes down to preparation! Get fully qualified, do your research, and present yourself as professionally as possible to maximize your chances of getting hired by top companies.    

Are you TEFL/TESOL certified and ready to start applying to online teaching jobs? Browse open positions on the Bridge Job Board.