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

Online English teacher with her laptop

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.

Mistake #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 certification and 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. Second, being qualified means that you’ll have the know-how and confidence to succeed on your first day of teaching.

Read about the typical requirements to teach English online.


Mistake #2: Using a generic or unpolished resume

Another common mistake when applying to online teaching jobs is submitting a generic resume that has typos, needs updating, or is not specifically tailored to the job for 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 on your TEFL/TESOL resume.


Check out this sample online teaching resume:

Mistake #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 currently seeking teachers! 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 get a job teaching adults or older children. Having knowledge of the company will also help you prepare for your TEFL interview, should you move to the next stage of the hiring process with an online teaching company.


  • Know what criteria you are looking for in a company (such as the age of the students, 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.

Mistake #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 perfectly follow 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.

Find out how to tell if online English teaching jobs are legitimate.


  • Read through the online teaching company’s instructions carefully and follow each step of the application process.
  • Watch YouTube videos, read EFL blogs, or connect with current teachers online (such as through 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.
online English teacher in Colombia
Ken, an online English teacher in Colombia, works with his student.

Mistake #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 hiring 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 a lesson to teach and detailed instructions beforehand to help you prepare.


  • 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 applying for a job 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.

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.

Betsy has been working remotely for eight years in content creation, editing, writing, and teaching/mentoring. In early 2014, she earned her TEFL certification and has enjoyed teaching online to adult learners around the world ever since. When she’s not working, Betsy loves exploring the world and has visited 35+ countries. Born and raised in the Midwest, she moved to Florida for grad school and has been there ever since. Her favorite hobbies are reading and slowly improving her Mandarin. You can connect with her on her blog or Instagram.