So if you are reading this you are probably looking to teach in Korea or you are in Korea and looking for a teaching position. Notice how I kept mentioning teaching. This is going to be geared toward TEACHING jobs as I have not ventured into non-teaching jobs, yet. I am also skipping the (optional) TEFL Certification, and the gathering of Visa documents as all of that was touched on in the previous post.
If you read my previous post you know that I have found myself BACK on the job market. I do not like interviewing for jobs in the states so I really hate doing it here. I will share with you my tips and the steps that I am utilizing this time around.
LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!
After parting ways with my first hagwon, I had a month to find a new school. The director was kind enough to allow me to stay on contract, and in my apartment, until I found a new teaching position or decided to go home. When I wasn't scooped up immediately, as she had thought I would, she gave me this advice: "Don't be picky just take anything." I did not take this advice. I was stressed out enough with the work conditions that I was leaving and knew that I would go insane if I signed on for something with bad conditions and a poor location. Needless to say, when I was offered a job in a rural part of Jeju Island, I turned it down.
For me, personally, I didn't think that I would have much luck in Seoul Proper due to my Unconventional Beauty and lack of experience. I still applied though. As I went through all of the job boards, which I will talk about later, I kept a Seoul subway map close by. I knew how far away from Seoul I was willing to be. I also wanted to be close to a bus line, preferably a late-running one. And of course, there is the usual checklist when you are looking at moving to a new place. How far is the grocery store, coffee shop, Emart, Daiso, and church? I would also search the city on YouTube to see what other teachers' apartments had looked like. There are drive-thrus and walkthroughs for some cities which I liked because it gave me an idea as to how the city looked and how busy it was. The only downside is that there is no guarantee that it would be in my part of town.
A quick word on being fat, black, and looking for work in South Korea. South Korea is all about aesthetics. There are more Cosmetic Surgeons here than in Los Angeles. I'm not going to lie to you and say that it is all great. I have definitely had a kid rub my hand and check to see if the brown came off; I thought it was adorable. I have also had kids ask me why my skin was dark, or why my hair was curly. I told them, "Because God that I was prettier that way." To which this 3rd-grade girl, who was also darker than the average Korean, said "I think so too! I like your skin!" My first director would watch what I ate, compliment when I ate vegetables and recommended different diets. Since I know that I am overweight and would like to lose weight I was not offended.
When I found myself in the uncomfortable position where I am looking for work again I was worried about the prospect of being Korean age 35, fat, black, little experience, and two schools in less than a year. I interviewed for a school that warned me that because of the area and prestige of the school and the neighborhood "the parents could be very prejudiced" and requested that I send them a full body picture. I automatically assumed, just from that, that I wouldn't get it...BUT I DID! Bottom line is, yes you will stick out, for obvious reasons, but it will not hinder you from getting a job.
2.) Resumes & Interviews
If you, like me, have decided to change your career, or take a break from your career and start teaching you are probably wondering "how on Earth am I going to make it look like I know what I am doing?" Or maybe you are fresh out of college, or just don't have any teaching experience. I would suggest a "Skills Resume". Showcase the skills that you have that will translate into the classroom.
When the time comes to interview, it will more than likely be on SKYPE especially if you are interviewing for Korea, without being in Korea. It is my understanding that some European countries only do in-person interviews, but don't quote me on that one.
Relax and be ready to SELL! If you don't have any teaching experience like I didn't be ready to explain why you are switching things up. Why you want to teach. How your past experiences will help in the classroom.
For me, I have a business and marketing background, which means that I am a whiz when it comes to time management. I have a music and theater background, I'm comfortable talking to large crowds. I also have a writing background. I did portrait photography and worked at Disney, I have experience working with children in various settings. It's all about the spin and the angles.
2.) Job Boards are Everywhere!
I am going to skip over the EPIK and KORVIA options as they are on a very strict time schedule. When I was doing my initial search, I planned on leaving as soon as my lease was up which was in June. Apparently June is not a very busy month for finding teachers for these two. For my search, I primarily used Dave's ESL Cafe and ESLROK. I will check out others, including Craigslist, but these two are where I go.
And as for recruiters, recruiters are something you don't need to get your daily business done. (Yes I do mean for that to sound like it was in Best Little Whore House In Texas) If you look at any job board, but for the sake of examples Dave's ESL Cafe, you will see something that looks like this:
~~GREAT AVAILABLE Positions in all Major and Minor Cities in South Korea, ASAP~BEGINNING OF MAY 2020!! RELIABLE RECRUITERS, ASAP~Beginning of APRIL 2020 Positions For SINGLES/ COUPLES/ E-21 Visas/ F4 Visas….SEOUL, GYEONGGI, BUSAN, DAEGU, INCHEON, ULSAN, CHANGWON, JEJU ISLAND, DAEJEON, JEONJU, SUNCHEON, ETC.~~
These are recruiters. I have mixed feelings about recruiters, honestly. I didn't have the best relationship with my first recruiter, but the others have been alright. After you send your resume to the recruiter, they will schedule an interview with you. You will go over what you are looking for in a position. What age group, what area of Korea, Public or Private school, etc. Some recruiters will take all of this information and match you with schools that are within that "filter range". Some don't. Here's why: COMMISSION!
Yes, recruiters work for a commission. If the school hires you, they get a fee from the school. As someone who has worked on commission before, I'm not upset. But if I tell you that I want to work in Daegu, don't send me information about Busan. If I tell you I want to work with Elementary or Middle School, don't send me information about Kindergarten. And most importantly, don't try to convince me that I should teach in China instead!
Here is my advice when it comes to recruiters. If it is your first job in Korea or whatever country that you are going to and you do not have any experience, use the recruiter. It's better to have someone on the inside. But, use SEVERAL! At the end of the day, they need you more than you need them. There are schools that hire direct. In this phase of Korean life, I don't use recruiters, I go for direct hires. Don't be a pushover. Don't just take anything that they throw at you, stand firm on what you want, but still have some wiggle room. EVERYBODY wants to teach in Seoul you may not get there your first year, but it is still worth a shot.
I hope all of this helps. In the final installment of the Going On An Adventure Series, I'll tell you ALL about the TEFL Contracts here in Korea!
Did I forget anything? Do you have any questions about searching for a job in Korea?