There are many benefits to being hired prior to arriving in the country. First of all, you ought to have a genuine contract of employment, your employer will usually have agreed to pay for the Work Visa and related costs and you may also get certain benefits as part of the contractual package. These benefits include medical or health insurance and the cost of a return airline ticket from your country of origin.
There are also some benefits to being hired locally. You can check out the city first to see if you really want to make it your home for the following twelve months, and you can make a much better assessment of your employer if you meet face-to-face and look round the school personally. It is also possible to speak to English teachers already living and working locally and ask them for their advice about which language centres to avoid and which to approach.
Generally speaking, it is not common to be hired from overseas for positions in Latin America. It does happen sometimes, but the vast majority of new teachers are hired in person ‘on the ground’ in that particular country and city.
In most Asian countries, it is better to find you first teaching job online and make the most of the benefits mentioned above. In some cases, the total time it takes to be hired can be quite long. For example, if you want to teach in South Korea it will take several months to sort out the Work Visa and related documents. The best jobs in Hong Kong and Japan require an early application up to six months ahead of your start date and competition for these lucrative positions is fierce.
There are still countries in Asia in which you can turn up first on a Tourist Visa and find work in the country. These are often, but not always, the lower paying positions. Examples include Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.
Some decent positions can be found in Indonesia although new rules have been introduced to encourage employers to only hire teachers who have an English or Linguistics degree, regardless of their TEFL certificate or experience. Therefore if you don’t have an English or Linguistics degree you are much better off applying for jobs from your home country.
Europe is very much a mixed bag when it comes to being hired in person or prior to your arrival. If you are British or Irish then you will find it easy to get hired in countries in Western Europe in person. Schools in countries such as Russia and Turkey, where demand for English tuition is high, often recruit from overseas.
When it comes to the Middle East, most new teachers are hired from overseas and are given an attractive package including benefits such as housing, free return airfare, dependant visas and tax-free salaries. You normally need at least two years of teaching experience to be considered for the higher-paying roles and an MA TESOL or DELTA certificate is of great benefit in this region. Note that the less developed nations in this region are usually unable to offer anywhere near as attractive packages as these.