4 Things You Must Know When Applying to Schools in Dubai, the UAE, or Anywhere Abroad!

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Before you start reading this article I'd love to introduce myself to you! My name is Sorcha Coyle and this is my 9th year teaching in the Gulf region (Qatar and Dubai). I run the Empowering Expat Teachers community and my mission is to empower all future and current expat teachers to lead personally, professionally, and financially rewarding lives! Click here to join our private Empowering Expat Teachers Facebook group to meet lots of like-minded supportive members! Follow me on IG too here for daily job-hunting, CV and cover letter tips! Now onto the article! 

1. Schools in the UAE (and the rest of the world) start advertising their jobs A LOT EARLIER than schools in Ireland, the UK, and the USA!

Many of the reputable schools in Asia will have FINISHED their recruitment by October/ November for the next academic year! The Middle East/ Gulf region tends to be a bit later but still earlier than what we are used to... I'd highly recommend having your CV and cover letter updated and ready to apply by November/ December as schools in the UAE tend to start advertising their teaching positions from January onwards for the next academic year.

2. You shouldn't rely on only one way to find a teaching job in Dubai...

To maximise your chances of finding a great teaching job abroad, based on my 9th year living and teaching abroad, you should always apply directly to international schools’ ads. If you wish to use a teaching agency, then definitely do, but do it in addition to your own research when applying directly to vacancies abroad. This is so you give yourself as many choices and jobs as possible.

The 2 teaching jobs I've had in Qatar (2011-2015) and Dubai (2016- 2021) were at schools that have one of the top teaching packages in each of their respective countries. If I’d used a teaching agency, I wouldn’t have found either of them because the schools I’ve worked at do not use teaching agencies to find teachers to fill any job vacancies. This is because both of the schools had great reputations and were well-known so that they could advertise openly and receive thousands of applications from candidates applying directly to them. This is why you shouldn’t rely on only one way to find your perfect job abroad. Click here to download 10 of my best tried-and-tested methods to find a great teaching job in Dubai!

3. Headteachers in the UAE receive THOUSANDS of applications each year...

So yours MUST be outstanding and memorable to even get an interview! This means they must:

  • highlight your positive skills, talents, and experience
  • include all work dates with no gaps in the employment history, as many heads will not consider an application from a CV with unexplained gaps
  • list your education and experiences with the MOST RECENT first
  • name referees who are professional, including your current employer
  • include a photograph at the top of your CV, but make sure it is a professional-looking photograph!
  • I have heard from so many teachers who didn't follow the guidelines above and then never heard from any school they applied to in Dubai and the UAE, so be sure not to make the same mistake! Make those changes above and then ask yourself if you are proud of your CV and cover letter. Do you feel confident that it will sell you as the best candidate to headteachers abroad who receive THOUSANDS of applications each year? If you are unsure and would love more guidance from an expat teacher who has been offered 12 teaching jobs abroad at outstanding schools and saved six figures from my time teaching abroad (aka me!), I run Teach Abroad Academy. It is currently closed but will be open in a few weeks!

4. You must always research the school before accepting the contract!

I cannot stress this enough because there are so many schools in the UAE, all with different ways of treating teachers. If the school has issues, you need to know about them beforehand, so you can make a fully informed decision. You can do this by:

  1. Googling the school name + reviews /employee reviews to see what you might find! Indeed.ae often lists rated and helpful employee reviews of various schools in the Middle East.
  2. Asking current expat teachers general questions on the Empowering Expat Teachers private FB group – join here!
  3. Checking the comprehensive (and free!) Dave’s ESL Cafe International Job Forums to get honest reviews about schools all around the world.

Remember that the teacher review websites like Dave’s ESL Café International Job Forums, the International Schools Review (ISR), and the International School Community (ISC) host teachers’ opinions of the schools and its working conditions. Remember that these are subjective, so do not necessarily take one negative review as being reflective of every teacher’s experience there. Check out a few of the other options above before making a fully informed decision.

Be sure to share this post with all your teacher friends who are thinking of moving abroad to work!

Sorcha x

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