Recruiter In Korea

The Honest Truth About Recruiting in Korea

Typical profile of a ‘runner’

with 4 comments

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.

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Written by recruiterinkorea

November 10, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. […] of self-awareness, but in the case that you do exhibit some sense of your distorted personality, stay at home (home being your home country).  You’ll save yourself and lots of others much […]

  2. […] say that more than 50% leave after one year.  Of course it depends on many facts such as location, recruitment process, but most importantly, the person.  As a recruitment agency, we’re more than happy as long […]

  3. […] my estimates are for the schools that I work with.  We have a very stringent recruiting process to avoid bringing over people that are likely not to finish their contract either by their own will or by being terminated.  Also, we do our best to work with schools that […]

  4. […] echoes one of the traits of the typical runner that I had mentioned before: Didn’t do ANY or very little research before coming to Korea.  […]


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