Why You Should Teach for Multiple Companies
One of the hot topics in the online English teaching world these days is the idea of teaching for multiple companies.
Some people see it as a betrayal to the company that first hired them and would much rather put their time and energy into one thing. Others view it as a smart choice for maximizing their options and furthering their online English teaching career.
We here at Online English Teaching recommend that you work for multiple companies. Of course, it seems obvious that a website that refers candidates and coaches them through the application process would recommend that. But, we practice what we preach; we actually work for multiple companies.
I Know What You’re Thinking
I think I have a hunch as to what you are thinking right now. “OMG, how can I manage to apply to and work for multiple companies when I barely made it through the first application process alive?!” That’s exactly what I thought when I got hired with my first company, VIPKid.
But the truth is, once you do the first application, the rest are a breeze.
The First One is the Hardest
When you first get into teaching English online, there’s a lot you need to think about.
You have to upload your resume and tailor it for online teaching. You have to schedule interviews, mock classes, and certifications. You have to make sure you have all the necessary technical requirements: a computer, a headset, good lighting, a background, props, a puppet, and a secondary reward system. You have to make sure your timing for the demo slides is just perfect. You have to develop that over-the-top animated teaching style using lots of TPR. You have to get a good profile photo and video to attract potential students. You have to secure that first class to get your momentum going. It can be overwhelming.
But the truth is, once you’ve done all that and you have a few classes under your belt, you’ve done the bulk of the leg work. Your resume is prepped. You have a great profile photo and introduction video. (Be sure not to include any logos or references to particular companies so you can re-use it later.) You have all the equipment and resources you need. You have a nice, distraction-free, educational background. (Also be sure not to include any logos or company color schemes in your background so that you can use it at other companies, too.) You know how to interview well and use TPR. It’s like learning a second language, really. Once you learn one, subsequent ones become easier and easier.
After I had a few classes under my belt at VIPKid, I decided to apply with Gogokid. At the time, they were offering a $300 sign-on bonus and guaranteed pay for unbooked slots. (There will be more about maximizing your pay later.) Because I already had the experience of applying at VIPKid, the application process at Gogokid was a breeze. My resume was done and I reused my profile photo and introduction video. It took very little prep time and I got hired very quickly.
In addition to all of this, having online teaching experience on your resume with one company, makes it so much easier to get hired at the second or third one. They want to show you their platform and curriculum and try to convince you to open all your time slots with them.
No Minimum Hours
For most of the major online English teaching companies, there are no minimum hours required. This is because all companies are now looking at their teachers as independent contractors. Even Gogokid recently changed their policy so that teachers no longer lose credit score points for not opening time slots.
This means you can have active contracts with multiple companies and there are no repercussions. On top of that, most teaching contracts are auto-renewed after they expire.
It is true that if you don’t meet a certain number of classes taught, you may not get a raise, but you will still have that job available to you whenever you need it.
With no downside to having multiple active contracts, why not work for multiple companies?
Juggle Schedules with Ease
A lot of people ask how you can juggle schedules with multiple companies and keep things straight. I never understood how people had a problem with this.
It’s easy: open multiple tabs on your browser and click on each company’s scheduling page. Now you have multiple, clearly-labelled calendars side-by-side so that you can be sure not to double-book.
If this is still a bit worrisome, you can always:
· allocate different days for different companies,
· alternate between companies each week,
· teach with one company during the weekdays and another on the weekends, or
· teach mornings with one company and evenings with another.
If none of these options suit you, you can simply use your second company as a back-up plan (more on that later).
Expand Your Schedule
Working with multiple companies expands the potential number of time slots in which you can teach.
In addition, companies are looking at expanding internationally. VIPKid has already started a beta project in South Korea and is looking to expand to many more countries. Depending on where you are located in the world, teaching students in a country other than China could open up a slew of new time slots for you.
Have a Back-Up Plan
The reality of today’s online English teaching world is that teachers are no longer employees. We are independent contractors. As such, the company has much less loyalty to us. If, for any reason, they feel we aren’t contributing to their bottom line, they can easily not renew our contracts.
If one of your contracts doesn’t get renewed and you don’t have a back-up company, you could potentially go months without income.
There are horror stories of teachers who have dedicated years to one company, slowly building up their student base and hourly wage, and then were unexpectedly not renewed after a ridiculous amount of successful, consecutive contracts.
Presumably, this is because their base pay got too high. The company is more interested in making a new teacher “just good enough” and paying them the lowest base pay, than they are in paying veteran teachers the maximum base pay. It’s all about the numbers.
Become More Well-Rounded
We don’t like to be too negative around here, so let’s talk about something more positive; teaching for multiple companies makes you a more well-rounded teacher.
When I teach at VIPKid, I usually get students between the ages of 9 and 12 years old. At Gogokid, most of my students are between the ages of 3 and 5. Gogokid tends to cater to a younger student population. Both of these companies feature one-on-one classes. At SayABC however, I get to teach up to four students at the same time.
Teaching in all of these different situations has definitely improved my overall teaching ability. Teaching different types of students and classes gives you a stronger foundation upon which to build a successful online teaching career.
To top it all off, this industry is still very young. I believe there will be many more kinds of online teaching platforms to come in the future – companies from countries all over the world, platforms dedicated to specific disciplines, business English platforms, and so on.
If you have experience with multiple age groups, students from multiple countries, both one-on-one and group classes, and different types of curriculum, you will be better positioned to take advantage of any opportunities the future may bring.
Find Your Best Fit
Even if you’re not into juggling schedules for multiple companies, having a few options will help you find your best fit.
Maybe you like to work with a more established company like VIPKid. Maybe you like the exciting prospect of working with an up-and-coming company that uses cutting-edge animated curriculum, like Gogokid. Perhaps teaching group classes with SayABC is much more your style. Maybe you want the ultimate flexibility of teaching solely from your mobile device, like you can with Palfish. Whatever your preference turns out to be, you can’t really know until you’ve tried a few different things.
And once you choose a company to put most of your effort into, you can keep the other ones as back-ups.
Maximize Your Earnings
Here’s another great reason to work for multiple companies: more money. Everybody likes money, right?
Leverage Your Offers
Right off the bat, if you are in the hiring process for multiple companies at the same time, you can use their base pay offers to leverage higher offers at other companies. You’re an independent contractor, so there’s no harm in doing this sort of thing. And companies always try to get you to work with them instead of the competitor.
You could say something like “I really appreciate your offer, but I was offered X amount of dollars at Company 123. I really prefer your curriculum and platform, though. Do you think you could do X+1 dollars in base pay?”
(Please don’t lie and say you have another offer if you really don’t! We recommend being ethical in all your online teaching endeavors.)
Many companies will offer potential candidates bonuses just for getting hired. As I previously mentioned, when Gogokid first launched, it was giving new teachers $300 USD just for being hired. They were also paying teachers for any unbooked , open time slots. While they have stopped this practice for the time being, you can be sure that we here at Online English Teaching will keep you up to date on the best hiring bonuses currently being offered.
In addition, some companies will give teachers some extra money in their first pay check to purchase props and class resources.
Take Advantage of Incentives
By working with multiple companies, you can take advantage of the best incentives. Sometimes a company will offer monetary incentives for opening time slots with their company.
For example, leading up to and during the Christmas holidays, VIPKid was offering lucrative incentives to open a certain number of classes on their platform. When this happens, you can give all your time slots to one company to maximize your earnings.
And in response, a competitor will oftentimes offer an incentive the following week or month to teach with their company. This happened with Gogokid during the Christmas holidays. Teaching with multiple companies gives you the option of giving your time to the company that is offering the best incentive. This significantly increases your hourly rate.
If you are hired by multiple companies, your potential to refer friends, family, and colleagues is way higher.
Some companies, like Gogokid and VIPKid require that teachers have a degree, be a native English speaker, and be from North America. However, other companies, like SayABC, also accept teachers who are in the final year of their degree. They also hire teachers from the UK, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. Companies like Palfish have very few requirements other than the teacher speak English fluently.
If you only work for VIPKid, but have a teaching colleague from the UK, you can’t get them hired at VIPKid and earn that sweet referral money. But if you worked for VIPKid and SayABC, you would be smiling all the way to the bank.
Have a friend you met abroad who is awesome at English but isn’t from a native English speaking country? You could refer them to Palfish!
Work Your Way Up
Most online English teaching companies offer secondary positions in addition to their teacher positions. These positions include ambassador, workshop mentor, interviewer, social media manager, curriculum developer, and more!
The problem is a particular company may not be looking to hire for these secondary positions at a time when you are looking to secure them. If you work for multiple companies, you have more opportunity to take advantage of these openings should they arise.
Imagine you are a warm, helpful person who would be a perfect interviewer for potential teaching candidates. You’d love a position like that, but they currently do not have any openings at your company. You hear that the competitor has openings for this position, but by the time you go through the hiring process you will probably have missed the deadline. Just imagine if you had contracts with both companies.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments?
Even if you like to keep it simple and you aren’t into juggling multiple schedules to maximize your earnings, it is good to have a back-up plan.
What do you think? Is it worth it to apply to and teach with multiple companies? Does it work for you? Are there any advantages that we missed? Or, are there any reasons why you think people shouldn’t? Let us know in the comments.
(Oh by the way, if you’re thinking about working for multiple companies, VIPKid is currently allowing all new applicants to skip the normal interview process and submit a three-minute demo video instead.)