Do I need a recruiter?
Are you one?
Do I need a recruiter to teach English in Korea?
Are you a recruiter?
Thanks for reading this post- goodbye!
Hehe, just kidding let's talk about recruiters. I get questions about recruiters A LOT. I have both positive and negative feelings about recruiters and I'll attempt to explain why in this blog post.
You've probably read a couple articles or visited a few recruiter sites and perhaps you want some clarity on the whole situation. So I'll give you the facts along with my personal opinions.
Before we jump into the juice, no I am not a recruiter. Because I offer guidance and support to prospective English teachers of Korea through phone calls and my online course, many people are confused about me.
I don't work for any recruiting companies, on the contrary I am an entrepreneur and online coach.
In the nutshell, I am a former English teacher in Korea who decided to package up all the ups & downs, lessons learned, along with research and information, in a mentorship program.
When I first decided to move to South Korea there weren't many bloggers and YouTubers talking about this career path.
I literally applied for the very first program I came across because I had no idea that other programs/jobs were available to me. It would've been nice to know about ALL the opportunities that existed!
In addition to not knowing what was out there, I felt lonely during the entire application process. Sure, I applied to a government program, but anyone who's applied knows how distant and spaced out responses from HQ and recruiters can be.
Long story short, I wanted to create a program that guided others during their journey. Then, taking it a step further, a program that actually prepares you for the reality of living and working in Korea. With most career paths and big life changes we find it extremely helpful having a mentor help us along the way.
Condensed information, tips, advice, and emotional support allow you to achieve your goals with less stress and with a higher success rate. A mentor provides a real-life personification of your goals, and a helping hand. That's what I do.
So, I am not a recruiter. And as I always say, I could care less what job type you choose, my goal is that you are prepared, supported and happy!
So, WHAT IS A RECRUITER?
A recruiter/recruiting company is the middle-man between you and schools in Korea. They having a working relationship with schools that allows them to receive pay/commission for placing foreign teachers in open job positions. They will present you the job positions that are open, represent you before the school, provide information for obtaining documents and visa, help you understand your contract, and even coordinate travel arrangements upon arrival. I think the best thing about a recruiter is that they can save you a lot of stress and time when it comes to getting your legal documents and application materials in order.
Sounds great! Where's the problem?
Like any business, there are some bad apples in the bunch. While reputable recruiters are great to work with and truly care about helping teachers find jobs that match their desires, there are some shady companies out there that will do anything and everything to push you to fill a position. Lying about location, class sizes, schedules, etc in order to get you to say "yes". Why? Because, again, they receive commission on each teacher they provide.
I have personal experience with being pressured into a position by a recruiter. To summarize the situation, I decided to leave a job in Korea mid-contract due to some ugly changes in the work environment, and so presented the recruiter with my desired work conditions. Knowing that I was in a sticky situation, the recruiter continued to sell a position to me that didn't fit my criteria. Additionally, they presented the job in a deceptive light, basically wording it so that it seemed to be similar to the job I was leaving (which was great before those ugly changes).
I took the job and quickly realized I'd be unable to stay for long. While management and staff were great, it wasn't what I wanted and so I gracefully left the position 6 months into the contract.
Do I think all recruiters are bad? No. In fact, I think having as much support as possible, especially if it is your first time moving to Korea, is a great idea!
A few tips when using a recruiter:
1. Use more than one
Don't go overboard, only use a couple. There are only so many jobs and if your work condition requirements are super specific , it is likely your application will be submitted several times to the same schools. While on the outside this may seem like a "good look" because you really want the job, in reality it will deter schools from choosing you because you are using too many recruiters.
However, using a couple recruiters will help ensure you find a good fit. Again, they are businesses and every business is ran differently. Find a recruiter that you like by contacting a few.
*Note: If you are applying for a government program (public school) you only want to submit your application once! So for programs like EPIK, SMOE, TaLK, you'll only submit your application through ONE of your recruiters (or submit directly on the program website). Submitting it through several recruiters will count as a double-submission and you'll be denied.
2. Check YouTube and blogger reviews!
Nowadays everyone gives their review of EVERYTHING online. See what other English teachers have to say about the recruiter in question.
3. Get the hook-up
If you are applying to private schools (hagwons) make sure that your recruiter can provide you the contact of the current/previous foreign English teacher. They will be KEY in giving you insight on the job, workplace environment, housing, location, etc.
4. Check the facts
Google is your friend. When your recruiter presents a job offer, Google it. See if you can find any information on Facebook groups and/or forums. Also note that jobs do change so take any really old reviews with a grain of salt. From the experience I mentioned earlier, I've seen first-hand a job going from absolutely PERFECT to horrendous because of a change in management. This of course can go vice-versa. One way to check that your recruiter is honest about a job is a quick location check. Is the location of the school matching up on Google? If not, pass on that recruiter, they are trying to sell you on a position.
So now that you know what a recruiter is, pros and cons of using one, and how to do your homework on any recruiter, you may still be wondering...
Should I use one?
Truth is, there's no proven method and this is more of a personal decision.
In my opinion, using a recruiter can be very helpful for newbies to the TEFL abroad world. I usually tell my clients to go ahead and work with a recruiter because while going through my program and having me as a mentor, I can help them weed out any bad recruiters, contracts, conditions, etc.
Which recruiting companies do you recommend?
Honestly, I can't. Like I mentioned, the one time I used a recruiter I scored a bad apple. Therefore I don't have personal experience with any good recruiters.
However, below I will list some popular recruiters used by other bloggers, YouTubers and friends.
Adventure Teaching www.adventureteaching.com
Teach ESL www.teacheslkorea.com
ESL Starter www.eslstarter.com
Reach to Teach www.reachtoteachrecruiting.com
Footprints Recruiting www.footprintsrecruiting.com
If you are considering using a recruiter, sift through some of the websites above, contact a few and go from there!
So what are you feeling? Will you use a recruiter?
Whether that’s a yes or no, one thing you MUST do is stay organized throughout the application process. You ultimately want to have control over your experience, this is YOU uprooting your life! Download my Roadmap to Korea Checklist to help you stay organized and sane through this tedious application process.