When is the best time to apply for teaching jobs in China?

I received a job aplication from a teacher looking to teach in China a few months ago. Like all new TEFL graduates, she was keen, eager to start speaking to schools and recruiters and find her first teaching job.

I'm sure you remember what it was like? You've worked hard (harder than you probably thought you'd have to, right?) on your TEFL course, completed all of your assignments and learned more grammar structures than you knew existed. Now you've got your teaching certificate in hand and are now looking at the many teaching job adverts online.

So this girl gets in touch about finding a teaching job in China...(that's a great start straight away!), and so we ask her three very simple questions:

1. What ages do you most want to teach? 
2. Do you have an location preferences?
3. When are you looking to start?


By asking these three questions down, we can whittle down from a very large number of teaching vacancies to a very small number of relevant choices for her to consider. So, question 1, teaching kids. Great! Question 2....somewhere in the south of China with cleaner air. No problem. Question 3...a year from now. Fantas...wait, did you just say 12 months from now??

When is the best time to apply for teaching jobs in China?

There are two main types of teaching jobs in China. These are with English training schools, which teach students English in the evenings or weekends, and Monday to Friday jobs such as at primary schools, high schools, universities or internation departments.

Now here is the thing; no school in China will be interested in speaking to you one year in advance. Most won't be interested in speaking to you even six months in advance; it's just far too far ahead of time to be applying.

Why is applying for a teaching job in China six months ahead of time too long?

Schools won't really want to speak to you six months ahead of time ever. The girl who applied to us was super efficient and highly organised. Her idea was to beat the crowd, get interviewed for a job early and to get something concrete lined up. There is nothing wrong with that and it is very commendable. However the fact is that this works for her, but it doesn't work for schools in China. 

The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly the number of teachers who get cold-feet about coming to teach in China is way more than you would imagine. It's a big, bold step moving to another country and things in life come up which make us have to change our plans. In 50% of cases where a school interviewed a teacher six months ahead of time, then they'd either pull out or emails between both parties would dry up. In short, a waste of everyone's time. Schools just an't afford to do this.

The schools have no idea of their recruitment needs so far in advance

The second, and most important, reason why schools in China don't want to look too early for teachers is because they don't yet know their recruitment needs so far ahead of time. English teachers in China sign rolling one-year contracts. Let's say a school has a team of 5 foreign teachers. Maybe two of these teachers signed a contract with the school during spring, one in the summer and the other two in the autumn. The school is a stable school and usually just needs five teachers. How can the school know if they need a replacement 6-12 months ahead of time? Ideally, the teachers they have will want to stay on (this is always the preferred choice for schools - the parents like and trust the teachers, they don't have to train new staff and go through the titanic hassle of applying for visas for new teachers). They will only need to find a replacement once a teacher confirms that they won't be staying and will be looking for a new job or returning home. 

Additionally, student numbers at the school may rise or fall throughout the year, making needing more or less teachers way later in the year a lottery...an expensive lottery. Schools just cannot speak to teachers for jobs a year down the line.

The same thing applies with public schools in China. Contracts are usally for eleven months to cover two academic semesters. Public schools will also not be able to think about hiring new staff until they know that some of their current staff will be 100% crtain of leaving. Then, very begrudgingly, they'll start the arduous process of finding ew teachers. Again, this is the very last thing they'll want to do.

Applying for teaching jobs six months (or even more time than that) is pretty much a waste of your own time as the response you will get back will be negligible. The very optimum time to apply for teaching jobs in China is 12 weeks.

Why is 12 weeks ahead the very best time to be looking for jobs in China?

Appying for teaching jobs in China 12 weeks prior to wanting to start is the very best time to do so because around that time schools will be asking their teachers if they will be staying on or not as they need to plan. The best organised schools will start looking for their new teachers three months ahead of time (never earlier, they simply can't), and so by looking then you'll be lining yourself up with the most-organised schools - never a bad thing at all. 

Additionally, the work visa process can take anything from 5-8 weeks, which gives you 4-6 weeks of being able to speak with schools and interview for teaching jobs in good time, unhurried and well-organised. All of the schools you see have vacanices will all be live vacancies, keen to interview you.

12 weeks is also the best time to speak to public schools in China

Let's say you want a university job in China with semesters starting in September and March each year. 12 weeks ahead of time is asl othe best time to appy for these jobs too. Again, the public schools need to know if their current teachers will be staying or not before looking for replacements. Before each semester begins, there is usually a two month break where the staff are home on holidays and so can't interview and doing all the admin work needed to hire you. 

By applying 12 weeks in advance for public school jobs in China, you are again putting yourself in the shop window at exactly the right time. You'll get more resume views and attract more interest from the university, high school, etc. 

Why is applying through RAY English Recruitment a smart choice?

We are a British-run company based in China. We have a good mix of high ethical standards and professional teacher support mixed with good China know-how. We know the HR departments of the schools and will make sure that your application lands on the right desk and will take priority.

Importantly, we'll make sure that you feel well-looked after at all times and any questions you have will be answered quickly and fully. You are in very good hands with us and you'll be cared for from the moment you apply to when you actually land in China to teach and beyond. 

Head over to our jobs page to see what we have for you.

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