In my very first round of applying for teaching jobs in Thailand, I noticed immediately the vast majority of teaching jobs in Bangkok and anywhere else in the country required the teacher e-mailing their resume, cover letter and photograph to the school before any job application would be taken any further. In the 10 years I’ve lived in Thailand, this hasn’t changed with 95 percent of job applications still requiring you to e-mail your information.
There are, however, certain things an e-mail for a teaching job should always include and why how to write the perfect e-mail for an English teaching job in Thailand is not always how you might expect. Here are a few oddities about e-mailing in Thailand, as well as what to do and what not to do that should hopefully ensure you are called for an interview.
E-mails in Thailand are formal – While you might get away with dashing off a quick informal e-mail in the United States or Europe and attaching your cover letter and resume as the professional part of the application, everything you do in an e-mail in Thailand should be formal. That’s because Thais haven’t yet figured out what much of the rest of the world has – an e-mail is an informal way of communicating, with the formal mode sent as an attachment.
That’s why, when I send an e-mail in Thailand, I always begin it Dear Khun (Somchai) and end it Yours Faithfully or Yours Sincerely. Overkill? Yes. But many Thais like it and often expect it.
Are you what they are looking for? – In Thailand, it is perfectly legal to write an advertisement for a job stating “Must be female, under 30 years of age, attractive and with white skin”. While these types of ads are fewer than they were 10 years ago when I arrived in Bangkok, you will still see them.
What that means is, if you are male, 60 years of age and dark-skinned, you don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of even being interviewed for the position let alone actually being offered it, so don’t waste yours or the school’s time. Many schools have already decided what they are looking for in a teacher, and if that’s a 22-year old blonde girl from California, that’s what they want. You being outraged about that will not change it.
Personalize your cover letter – Even though it’s tempting to just send a form cover letter along with your resume in every e-mail, don’t. Instead, make sure you personalize your cover letter so the name of the contact person and the name and address of the school are clearly visible, along with something written in the letter that suggests you know which school you’re applying to.
Proofread and spell check – At one of the school’s I taught at, I spent a few days helping one of the Thai administrators go through resumes and cover letters that had been e-mailed to the school by foreign teachers looking for jobs. At least 50 percent of the applications the school received had glaring errors, misspelled words or terrible grammar included in the resume or the cover letter.
Remember, you are applying for a position as an English teacher. If you cannot spell and your grammar is abysmal, it’s highly unlikely you will even be called for an interview, particularly if another western teacher like me is reviewing your resume. Proofread and spell check the e-mail message, your resume and your cover letter before hitting the ‘Send’ button.
Your resume should be relevant to teaching – While it might be tempting to include the job where you packed cheese in a dairy factory (yes, I’ve done that!), or the year-long stint at the local movie theater selling popcorn, it’s not something that should be on a resume for a teaching job in Thailand.
Concentrate on jobs where teaching was included, or where you worked with children. If you don’t have any of these types of experience, make sure you highlight jobs that included English skills, writing, or where public speaking was an integral part of your job. If you are applying for a business English job, any corporate job you’ve held should be prominently displayed on your resume and mentioned in your cover letter.
Include a photograph – You should always include a photograph for any teaching job you apply for via e-mail in Thailand. Wear professional clothing when you have the photograph taken and look relaxed and smiling in it. No photograph = no job interview in the vast majority of cases.
Be ready to interview – Job ads in Thailand for teachers are often published two days before the school needs a teacher to begin teaching – I kid you not. That’s why you should always have suitable clothing ready for an interview as some schools will call you the day you e-mailed them your resume and want you to come in that day, while others will definitely want to see you tomorrow.
Thailand is a country where style is definitely more important than substance, which means you need to be sure everything you send in an e-mail for a teaching job is nice to look at and perfectly prepared. Anything less, and you have already halved your chances of being called for a job interview.