Updated on July 19, 2016
People often ask how I went about finding a teaching job here in Stockholm. It was not an easy process; in fact, JoEllen and I hadn’t ever really considered Sweden an option. I know it is cheesy but I like to say that Stockholm choose us.
Since we knew we wanted to live in Europe I began researching how to make this happen and was soon met with discouragement. I do not speak any languages other than English, so I felt my only options were teaching in an international English speaking school or teach English as a second language. The jobs teaching English as a second language are low-paying and are usually filled by teachers fresh out of college. Since I had been teaching for five years and recently earned a doctoral degree, JoEllen rightfully urged me to aim higher. Eventually I found a great resource to help me do this: JoyJobs.com
My advice to any aspiring international teacher is to sign up for JoyJobs. I would not be in this amazing city if it wasn’t for this resource. This company compiles openings from international schools from all over the world into one list. I would scan this list every few days, keeping an eye out for teaching jobs in Europe (most listings are for Asia, Africa, and the Middle East). When I saw one that piqued my interest, I would research the school via the school’s website (provided by JoyJobs). Next, I would write a cover letter explaining my philosophy of teaching, qualifications, and reference some of the things I learned about the school through reading their webpage. Each of these cover letters were individualized and took up to an hour to write. All in all, my cover letters, CV (resume), teaching license, and letter of reference were sent to around 50 schools all over Europe (including the school I studied abroad at in Vienna, Austria).
I was very discouraged when I received no responses from any of these applications. I put a good deal of work into each cover letter and often got my hopes set on a particular location only to never hear a word from the school. I eventually found out that each job I was applying for had well over 200 applicants. Getting a leg up on the competition with only an email and no face-to-face interaction was not easy. In addition, being American greatly hurt my chances; since there were employment issues in Europe, governments made it very difficult for schools and companies to hire people without EU citizenship. I supposed they wanted to keep the jobs for their own citizens who may need work. To get a work visa in most European countries, I needed a school to first hire me and then help me get approved for residency in their country. Most schools would obviously rather hire someone from within Europe and avoid the trouble.
After four months of sending countless emails and receiving few real prospects, I was getting discouraged and hiring season was coming to an end. JoEllen and I really wanted to move to Europe during the summer of 2015 and I seriously began to question if this would be possible. In March, I decided that I would spend my entire spring break job hunting. On that Monday, March 23, as I was about to quit sending emails for the day, I saw a new job opening pop up on JoyJobs.com; the opening was the first I had seen in a country that I hadn’t even considered an option: Stockholm, Sweden.
This email eventual led me to ask myself the question, “Pants or no Pants”?