So yesterday(ish) I wrote about the boatload of documents you need to get you application for a visa to come to Korea (see here). Today, I move onto the somewhat confusing topic of recruiters. Recruiters are one of the best ways to find a job in Korea, if you are not already in the country as they will know about many upcoming jobs and can often have a large catchment area of schools.
Trust me, at least once in your dealings with Korean recruiters you are going to feel like the man above. It can be frustrating and agonizing!
Firstly, what exactly are recruiters?
Well, I’m glad you’ve asked, because this is a very important question and an even more important answer! In short they are companies that find candidates for schools. Key point here. They are businesses, who work for schools. Recruiters do not work for you, they work with you, but not for you never forget this.
How do I find one?
You get in touch with a recruiter and they send you job listings you are suitable for. This may not be all jobs available in the area, as there are so many recruiters in the Land of the Morning Calm. If you are looking for a particular city or area try to contact a recruiter that works in that area. Better yet, apply to many recruiters in different areas so you might have a number of options to choose from. I am very hesitant to recommend any recruiters as there are good and bad tales for every single one of them! If you are looking, do a quick Google search and find some websites, also check sites with job listings such as Waygook.org or Koreabridge.net and find the recruiter posts there!
There are so many. How do I choose?
Honestly, most recruiters are the same. It’s in their interests to find an applicant for every vacant position they are handed. Keep this in mind when applying to schools, as you will be shown the best side of the school, with many things swept right under the carpet. That said, some can be better than others with their school portfolio, however, they can afford to be choosy in the applicant teachers they accept too.
What will they ask me for?
Now, you’ve chosen your recruiters. They are going to ask for a list of things, almost as long as that supplied by the department of immigration. The major one being a photograph. Do not underestimate the power of this photograph, Korea is renowned for the attention paid to appearances. So make it a good one! Then you may have to fill in a whole lot of forms that will give the exact same information as your CV (or resumé). Stick with it, it will help you find a job! Finally, they will ask when you will have your documents ready, it is best to be honest on this as they may have ASAP jobs that will need you to be on a plane at the earliest possible moment!
How much do they cost?
Recruiters are usually free for you, the applicant, however, they don’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts. Oh no. Schools pay very handsomely for this service, as I already mentioned above, so remember this when dealing with them! You are the product they sell to the clients, to put it another, more vulgar, way. In this way you can end up shunted into a school in the bumpkins so always ask to speak to the previous foreign teacher in order to ask relevant questions. What’s the job like? Are you paid on time? Is the housing good? That kind of thing.
After all of that, how am I expected to behave with a recruiter?
Although they are benefiting a lot from the situation, the recruiter is also taking a risk on you so they will try to weed out bad eggs (or some less mixed metaphor). So be a good egg. Always be respectful and polite. Set boundaries of where you will work, but try not to be too demanding. If coming to Busan for example, don’t expect to be offered all the jobs smack bang in the middle of downtown with housing on the beach. Rather say you would like to live and work close to the subway lines. Check out how extensive it is below, you can go anywhere so long as you are subway adjacent! Above all be professional, don’t burn your bridges until you know the foundation has already washed away.
So that’s about all there is to recruiters here in Korea. I’m sure others would add much and more to the topic of things not to believe from them, but I’m not going to write a book instead of a blog post. Try not to be naive when dealing with anyone is a tip for your whole life not just you planned trip to Korea. 😉
Next time I’ll try to cover the topic of public school vs. private academy (hagwon) in as much detail as I can muster. Best of luck!
PS If you do have questions, ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to help out!