How NOT to get freelance Business English work

How to not get freelance Business English work with a language school

Joining a language school might seem like quite a simple process. From a small provider to national or international school or language agency, there are a few things you can do that will make sure you do NOT get the job.

En-masse applications

Let’s get off to a good start. Send a personalized email. Find out the right name and get in touch with the person with the power to make the decision. Mass-produced emails with all the schools’ emails to which you are applying visible say one thing: You’re not worth the five minutes it takes to write an individual email. You don’t want to make that impression.

Location, location, location

Don’t Start your email with “I’m currently living in X far away country and would like work as a teacher in your school, do you have any openings”. Instead, apply in the country/city or make first contact and follow up when you’re here and ready to work. Find out what we might be looking for (websites are great for this) and hone your first line. Something like “I’m sending you my CV for consideration for  freelance Business English training in Berlin”.

Don’t start with your pitch 

Include a long list of jobs and unrelated qualifications and experience. Make it difficult for the person hiring to find out why you are special. This will ensure you don’t get filed away in a dark corner of my inbox.

Instead, take a look at some more interactive CVs on the net. Spend a couple of hours making it interactive or jazz it up with interesting formatting. Highlight your expertise and detail your relevant experience – this is your one-minute sales pitch. Don’t give a timeline. Select, refine and target your points.

I received a CV the other day in a lesson-plan format with lesson aims (in the form of experience and qualifications) on it. After that, I was keenly interested in speaking to the person. Raise interest. Think about content, layout, presentation. Your CV is your pitch.

Don’t sell your qualifications 

CELTA? OK, pass A, B, or just pass? That makes a difference. Pass A candidates prick up my attention. Don’t sell yourself short by not including it.

Don’t provide accurate information on schools

So you’ve worked with Amazon, Siemens, Vodafone. Impressive. Was this through a school? Still impressive. It’s not underselling yourself to say that you worked with a private language school. Actually, I’m in charge of hiring for one and I want to hear that you’ve got experience of working with our type of company

Quote your rate in the first contact

Rule number 1 of freelance negotiation. Try and get the school to quote first. They have a rate. Being pushy with your rate won’t improve your remuneration – it just comes across as demanding. I want to know if I can work with you – if I can, I’m likely to also be flexible on payment.

Under-prepare for the interview

Bad tip: Don’t read our website. Don’t find out that we provide learner-centred and interactive lessons.

When I ask you about how you’d present and provide practice in a specific grammar of vocabulary point, I’m really looking for how you have understood what we stand for. That means that starting with “I’d put some example sentences on the board and explain it” is a no-go zone.

Don’t bookmark blogs

Sidestep all the information out there online about us. Bad idea.

Check your potential employer out on LinkedIn, Xing, WordPress, Twitter.

A quick search online will show you what I’m into as far as teaching goes, what I’ve written and what I’ve done. I’m not saying suck up, but doing your background work on me will show me you’re motivated and info-savvy. Always do your background work on your learners’ companies, and this is also true of your interviewer.

No business acumen 

Respond at 12 at night to emails, don’t sign off your emails or better still make glaring mistakes in your writing. This will not make a good impression.

That’s not you though, is it? In Germany, freelancers are also our clients too. Do you have a signature on your email? Do you respond on time? Communicate in a professional way? If I’m looking for someone who could teach email writing and other facets of business communication, I want to know that you can do this yourself.

Scrap the follow-up

Leave your application for months and never come back to it. Again, bad advice. Actually, your friendly reminder might just bring that stunning application back to my attention at the right time. Better still, time it for late Aug or early Jan and you might just catch me in the middle of a search – I’ll want to interview you right away and I’ll be really grateful your brought it to my attention.

So there you have it, a few simple tips to avoid getting hired. Now you can get back to being great language training professionals. Maybe I’ll be speaking to you some time soon?

3 thoughts on “How NOT to get freelance Business English work

  1. Emi Slater says:

    Hey Dale,
    It’s been a while ! This is really useful I think and I will be referring many of my CELTA trainees to it.
    Which school do you work for now ?

    • dalecoulter says:

      CELTA trainees? Emi sounds like you’ve got into teacher training… I bet you make a fantastic trainer! How long have you been in that for?

      I work for a private language school specialising in business English…

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