Recruiter In Korea

The Honest Truth About Recruiting in Korea

Archive for November 10th, 2009

Typical profile of a ‘runner’

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I would roughly estimate that the current turnover (instructors who do not complete their one year contract) is about 30%.  That’s from my experience this year.  Believe it or not, that’s a huge improvement from 4 years ago where that number was near 50%.  I think the turnover decrease can be attributed to better working conditions (I know, I know some places still suck), perhaps the overall global economy (hard to find a job elsewhere), but most importantly, my improved intuition on spotting potential runners (hehe…but it’s still not perfected).

All things being equal, here are some attributes of ‘runners’.  This is from my experience and from what I hear on Dave’s and other recruiters.

  • Didn’t do ANY or very little research before coming to Korea.  Korea is not Canada, the U.S. or pretty much like anywhere else in the world.  It’s very…shall we say…unique in a not necessarily good or bad way.  There’s a lot of negativity on Dave’s but I don’t think some of it’s unwarranted.  Make sure you have a good idea of what to expect (not all of it will be bad though).  Keep in mind that small towns are a lot more conservative than big cities like Seoul or Busan.
  • A holier than thou attitude.  If you’re overly cocky and think you have a sense of entitlement, don’t bother coming.  You’ll have a rude awakening both at work and in social situations.  I think Koreans are more tolerant of this (outside of work) but your fellow foreigners will see right through you and you won’t make many friends.  Be good at your job, flexible within reason, and most importantly humble.
  • Lived at home up until moving to Korea and/or never travelled.  I’m not saying all those in this category are prone to run but it’s tough moving out on your own let alone a completely new country.
  • Never worked a day in their life.  Believe it or not, there’s a lot in this category.  Teaching is a job regardless of what you hear about it being like babysitting, easy, etc.  There are responsibilities and expectations that you must adhere to.  Definitely not 9-5 but don’t expect it to be a cake-walk.  If you’re not into your job then your employer will make it easy for you and just let you go.
  • Extremely introverted.  It’s fine if you prefer to stay home and watch TV or read, but get out once in awhile!   You’re in a completely different continent so go out and explore.  I know it sucks sometimes to go out with coworkers but don’t decline all the time.  Doesn’t mean you have to get wasted and go clubbing every night but it’s good to have a circle of friends and at the very least, a small social circle be it at or outside work.
  • Being completely unflexible.  I think ‘flexible’ is my most-used word on this blog:).  Being flexible doesn’t mean that you have to wait 1 or 2 days after payday to get paid (that’s completely unacceptable) or to be forced to work on weekends when it’s not in your contract.  If you go out of your way with little complaint for something that’s not too demanding (like subbing for a co-teacher for example) or attending a yearly workshop unpaid, then it will show your commitment and dedication to your job.
  • Being overly sensitive.  This goes hand in hand with the former.  Some people just need to chill out and realize the world doesn’t revolve around you.  I was reading this thread on Dave’s and was thinking, man, what if something really went wrong with this kid!?!

I know that sometimes people run for a legitimate reason.  But if your employer is reasonable and you have a decent work environment and coworkers, do everything that you can to at least complete the contract or give proper notice if you absolutely must go.  The latter will at least get you a letter of release so you can find another job in the future.  To tell you the truth though, schools rarely blacklist people at immigration if they do run (again from my experience) unless they’ve been screwed out of money from bills or the director has a hard-on to make a re-application impossible.

If you’re not blacklisted, the worst is that you will need to wait for your current contract to expire before you can apply for a new one (that is if you want to get a new job).  And yes, it is possible to terminate a contract on good terms (giving notice) which will help for that all important reference to your new employer.

Written by recruiterinkorea

November 10, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Applying as a couple or friends

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This is a tough one.  It’s great if a school has 2 open positions for a couple or 2 friends and they’re willing to fill those spots in one shot.  It’s definitely a good thing for a school to accept a couple because they can find single housing.  But make sure that they get a studio that can accommodate 2 people, not just stuff both of you in an apartment made for a single.

If you’re a couple, you’re obviously going to have fights once in awhile (well from my experience anyways) so being crammed into a small space definitely won’t help.  2 friends?  I’m guessing 2 friends wouldn’t want to live together normally but if you do, I’d highly advise against it.  You did the roommate thing through college and you won’t regret the privacy you have by having your own place, no matter how close you guys are.

Be weary though.  First, lots of schools don’t have 2 open positions at the same time.  Secondly, schools are very hesitant on hiring a couple or 2 or more friends.  Why?  Because groups that are hired together usually run away together if they don’t like the situation or are homesick.  Also, especially for couples, schools don’t want your squabbles to affect your work and/or your co-workers.  I’ve seen it many times where couples that come together are no longer an item by the end of the contract (same for friends too).

More often than not, schools would prefer not to hire these groups.  That being said, you should inform your recruiter/school that you wish to apply with someone else.  But it’s best to be flexible.  Tell them that you’re willing to work at different schools as long as they’re close to each other.  This may be tougher for couples who usually want to live together though.  The most ideal situation, if you can’t work at the same school, is work at different schools in close proximity to each other, but live in the same housing.  This can get tricky though; either both schools have to be owned by the same director or one of you can get a housing allowance in lieu of supplied housing.  The person provided housing by the school has to convince their director to get bigger housing.  Never try to hide the fact that you have someone else living in your housing.  Schools generally don’t care about this as long you don’t have all night parties or wreck the place.

Written by recruiterinkorea

November 10, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Visa codes taking a long time?

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Waiting for visa codes can be a tremendous nail biter.  Sometimes they can take as short as 1 or 2 days and sometimes up to 3 weeks!  It all depends on the immigration office and the season.  November is relatively busy so if you’re waiting for a code now, it may take longer than usual.

Seoul definitely takes the longest; the average being 2 weeks but I’ve seen 3 weeks or more in some cases.  Smaller cities like Cheongju and Pohang can get the code within a couple of days.  Also, something you guys may not know but schools that have been around for awhile have solid ‘relationships’ with immigration officers and provide them ‘favours’ in some cases, can get the code verrrrry quickly.  I’ve seen a case in Daegu where we sent the docs and literally got the code the same day, a few hours later.  The director even openly admitted to us that he greased the immigration officer.

On the flip side, schools can be pricks and sit on docs before submitting them.  Honestly this is usually due to ignorance and laziness but sometimes for more sinister reasons like they’re waiting for a better applicant before moving forward with a visa application.  In suspicious cases like this, we always ask for the proof of the submission date (if the code takes unusually long with a given immigration office).  What do we do?  Down the list you go!

Written by recruiterinkorea

November 10, 2009 at 12:11 pm

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Thanks for all the nice comments! Suggestions?

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Sorry I haven’t posted anything in awhile as it’s been crazy busy here the past couple of days.  I’ll try to update this blog more often.  I want to thank everyone for the kind comments on the information I provided.  As I mentioned in one of my first posts, the blog was derived out of sheer boredom but I’m glad I can help with my transparent view of the industry I work in.

Also, please let me know if you guys have any questions or suggestions on topics you want to talk about or need more info on.

Always glad to be of help!

Written by recruiterinkorea

November 10, 2009 at 11:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized