How can I avoid scams when looking for TESOL jobs?

As the internet is largely anonymous by nature, it is easy for unscrupulous characters who are looking to make easy money to prey on unsuspecting job hunters. While it is true that the quality of schools and the teaching contracts they offer can vary enormously, the vast majority of advertised jobs whether good or bad will be completely genuine. However, to avoid the small number of jobs that might be dubious, there are a few simple rules you can follow.

How can research help me avoid scams when looking for TESOL jobs?

Research is always the best defense against job scams when looking for ESL jobs online. By spending a bit of time researching the typical salary, expected benefits, working hours, and visa requirements in your chosen destination, potential scams should stand out like a sore thumb. The bottom line here is, if it sounds too good to be true then it is best left alone. Once you have identified any job adverts that you might be interested in you can run a couple of simple checks to check their authenticity. By searching the school name online you can quickly identify any scams that are well known via school blacklists, teacher?s blogs, and other ESL related websites. It is a common scam to use the name of a well known school in a job advert so you might want to check the email address they use by searching on the genuine school's website. Often a scammer will use a similar address with a different domain, for example: schoolofenglish@gmail.com, while the genuine school address might be jobs@schoolofenglish.com.

Should I ever send upfront payments when applying for TESOL jobs?

While there are a few well established and trusted programs that require some form of payment upfront, you should always be a little wary about an employer who asks you to send them money. Many of the simplest scams involve fake schools requesting money upfront for things such as plane tickets, visa fees, or security deposits etc. It is not uncommon for an employer to expect you to pay for your own airfare and then reimburse you upon arrival, but no legitimate school will ever ask for flight money upfront. You should also research the cost of visas in the country you are heading to to avoid overcharging.

Should I be wary if an employer doesn't request an interview?

If you are applying for a job in another country a face-to-face interview is often not possible. However, in this day and age of mobile devices it is now common practice to conduct interviews via webcam. If an employer you are in contact with shows no interest in a video interview or even a chat by phone, then you should probably assume they are not genuine.

Should I ask to speak to a current employee?

Asking to speak to a teacher who is currently working at the school can be a very good strategy. If the employer refuses to allow it then you have every right to be concerned about the validity of the job. If they do allow it it will obviously ease your concerns regarding scams and also allow you to find out more about the working conditions at the school. Speaking to a current teacher who was once in the same position as you is a very positive step in any recruitment situation.

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