Recruiter In Korea

The Honest Truth About Recruiting in Korea

Archive for January 2010

Overseas Koreans to get new IDs

with 3 comments

Anyone try this yet?  Looks like it’s only for overseas Koreans (F-4?) but hopefully it could work for F-2 holders as well.  They should make it easier for all foreigners but of course this is Korea.

In the past, ethnic Koreans overseas couldn’t buy goods from Korean Internet shopping sites because they didn’t have Korean registration ID numbers – and thus couldn’t create accounts for such Web sites.

To rectify that, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security said it will provide personal identification numbers that will replace registration numbers for overseas Koreans.

The measure will allow overseas Koreans without Korean registration IDs to freely use the Web sites of more than 3,000 public institutions, including the Foreign Ministry, the Military Manpower Administration, and the Small and Medium Business Administration, as well as 400 Internet shopping sites and Internet-based games, the ministry said yesterday.

After verifying their identity at by typing their name and passport number, overseas Koreans will get a personal identification number that can be used instead of a Korean registration ID number.

Many overseas Koreans without registration numbers have complained about the poor accessibility of Korean Web sites. Without a registration number, they have been unable to become members of the sites or post messages.

By Kim Mi-ju []

Written by recruiterinkorea

January 29, 2010 at 11:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

How to be a ‘star teacher’ in Gangnam

with 3 comments

I’m not posting as much as I should since I’ve been pulling in 14-16 hours days lately both at home and at work.  Can’t complain though.

HT to Korea Beat for this interesting article on SAT teachers in Gangnam.  I’ve posted before on these special breed of instructors who teach SATs.  I’ve got a couple of friends and acquaintances who teach SAT and let me tell you, they make a killing.  You definitely need a lot of experience in this field to make it to the top though.  Also, speaking Korean is a huge advantage although I know some E-2 holders who make a pretty penny too teaching SATs.

It’s not easy though.  About 6-8 hours per day, 7 days a week.  If you’re doing privates, expect to consult with demanding parents on a almost daily basis.  Also, these guys take the SATs every quarter or so (or whenever they’re available) to be up to par with current tests.  Of course they just sleep through the math section.

A friend of mine worked at an SAT academy in Daechi plus did a bunch of privates on the side.  He was pulling in around 7-8 million a month; more during summer when returnees come for vacation from the States.  Now he’s working full-time (no more privates) at a different academy and pulling in 10 million on a bad month.  This past summer (July and August) and made 40 million and bought a Lexus SC (bastard!!!).  He does do a good job and has been doing it for more than 5 years.  As mentioned in the article, these guys get a percentage of tuition from their students.

Written by recruiterinkorea

January 27, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Wanted: Normal Employee (teacher)

with one comment

No this is not a Job Ad.  It’s an article from Fistful of Talent that can somehow relate to what some schools are looking for in an instructor.  I’ve mentioned before what candidates should not do before the application, during the application, and after getting a job.

Recruiters in Korea deal with mass recruiting as opposed to finding specific qualities rather than just a degree, spoken English, and a pulse.  Of course, generally speaking.

However, applicants should take a look.  You don’t need to be a supermodel but please try to be as ‘normal’ as possible.  You’ll get more responses from applications and it will improve your overall situation.

Wanted: Normal Employee

I want/need to hire someone. Not a difficult task, right? I’ve been doing this for years and it’s a simple process. I mean let’s be honest – I’m not trying to launch the Space Shuttle into outer space – I just need to hire one “normal” employee. And therein lies my problem: “Normal Employee” wanted.

The problem with hiring normal people, is well, they’re hard to find. No one wants to be normal anymore – everyone has to have something special about them: I’m the IT guy who drives a Harley and raises Pygmy bunnies; I’m the Accounting gal who snowboards and always wears Hello Kitty gear; I’m the Marketing Dude who is a little crazy about slow pitch softball and facial hair. The level of personal branding has gotten to a point where it’s next to impossible to find normal people.

So, now I know what the next question on your mind is – that’s why FOT pays me the big bucks – to anticipate what our readership will ask and have all the answers.  You’re thinking: But Tim, you’re so normal, how did you find you? Am I right, or what!  (or maybe you’re thinking, how did Tim suck me 3 minutes into another blog post going nowhere!)  What’s really needed is just one Job Description that we can all use on every position we have – like Addendum A – Normal Employee JD.

If I had an Addendum A for my JD on what a Normal Employee would be, it would probably look like this:

Position: Normal Employee

Status: Full Time – Exempt (must be normal after hours as well)

Reports to: Self  (wait you can’t report to yourself, that instantly makes you not normal)

Position Requirements: Common sense with a touch of realism, some positivity thrown in for good measure (meaning when someone asks you “if the you’re a cup is half full or half empty person” – you don’t go on for 15 minutes explaining how you can’t be defined so narrowly – that makes you not normal).  Must have been normal for at least 18 months (caution: some will say one year here, but trust me, anyone can act normal for a year – the tipping point is at least 18 months – crazy is bound to come out in 18 months if it’s in there).

Principle Duties: To build and maintain professional relationships with supervisors, peers and co-workers – which means stalking any other employee on Facebook is not normal.

Degree of Accountability: Must follow all policies and procedures, maintain confidentiality, meet and/or exceed department goals set forth for this position. This means if you ever use the phrase “that’s not my job” you’re not normal, also sending an email out to the entire company asking why it is so difficult to keep sticky notes in stock is not normal – I’m just saying.

Job Duties:

  1. Don’t be creepy. If you have to ask what this looks like – you’re not normal – you’re creepy.
  2. Have good hygiene. This means you have to be honest with yourself and find out if you smell – body, mouth, etc. – then do something about it, in a positive way.
  3. Don’t talk about your pets or your kids, more than you talk about work, while at work. Enough said.
  4. It’s alright to have crazy colored hair – but you need to balance it with other very normal behavior. Example: if you have purple hair, don’t wear a skull t-shirt – you just make people nervous; or bring in fresh baked chocolate chip cookies – people don’t expect that from someone with purple hair – and don’t get upset when no one eats your cookies – let’s just say people are still nervous about the hair – but they’ll appreciate the gesture.
  5. Don’t be happy all the time. First, no one buys it. Second, it makes you look simple minded – everyone has a bad day or frustrating time (it’s what makes us normal) and it’s alright to show that. Third, when showing your frustration/bad day, don’t do it by throwing things at work – that’s not normal.
  6. Don’t talk about freaky stuff – ever. Hey, great – you and your wife like to swing on the weekends – don’t ever share that at work – if you do, you’re not normal.
  7. Don’t use baby-talk. That works on your boyfriend and Dad – but not at work.
  8. Do bust on your supervisor to co-workers at lunch. This is normal behavior – people get frustrated with their bosses and need an outlet. It doesn’t mean you hate them and they should be skinned alive (if you think that, you’re not normal), but just need to blow off some steam to a co-worker – everyone has done it – to a point, it’s healthy behavior.
  9. Don’t bust on your supervisor in a department meeting. If your supervisor is good, she’ll laugh it off, but no one likes public humiliation – and why you might get some sick gratification from it – it’s not normal.
  10. Don’t do any behavior that can be deemed crazy.  You never want to be tagged “crazy” – it’s like luggage, you’ll never get rid of it.  Crazy behavior examples: Making lunch in the employee break room that is over the top – soup, salads and sandwiches are great – trying to make Beef Wellington in the Microwave is crazy.  Having pictures and items that show your personality in your cube are nice – having your entire cube decorated in the Winnie The Pooh – Eeyore character is crazy.

What do you look for in Hiring Normal employees?

Editor’s Note: Tim Sackett, SPHR is the Executive Vice President of HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. Tim loves everything talent acquisition and believes every corporate recruitment department in America can and must get better.  He has 15+ years of human resource leadership experience, across multiple industries, on both the corporate and agency side – so he gets it from both sides of the desk.  Want more?  Um, OK… He has a Masters of HR and….well, he was recently voted #5 best assistant little league coach of his son’s five team league.

Posted by Tim Sackett on Monday, January 25, 2010 at 04:35 AM | Permalink

Written by recruiterinkorea

January 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

“Not understanding Korean culture or the ‘Korean way'”

with 10 comments

Per my last post, Reprobate explained why the vice-principle at his school disliked him:

…the reason I am not well received by those in power is because I do not understand Korean tradition and Korean “emotion”. I have to take responsibility for this lack of understanding.

I don’t even know how to accept this notion. I just can’t rationalize this reason as valid. It has absolutely nothing to do with my performance, but everything to do with infantile cerebral complexes.

I think that this is one of the most frustrating aspects of the Korean work culture to foreigners.  I also believe that this is the lame excuse that employer’s use when they try to make you do something that’s outside of your contract or even worse, try to screw you out of money.  Or maybe it’s because you really don’t understand Korean culture (ha!).  Did you refuse to eat with them or asked why there was rampant prostitution everywhere including nearby the school?  Doubt it.

We’re used to doing everything by the book.  Even if something is slightly awry from the contract, we like to (and must) protest.  After all, the law is the law and we should abide what we agreed upon no?  Korean work ethic however, urges the employee to do anything for their employer.  After all, they gave you the great job didn’t they?  Too bad they fail to realize that instructors are contract workers who don’t plan on being employed for life as an instructor for whichever school.

I started to understand this more since I’m a regular full-time employee at a Korean company.  For those that are confused about the terms, I’ll explain.  A regular employee signs a contract with a start date when they are first hired but there is no contract end date.  They receive benefits such as pension, national health care, and yearly severance.  Sounds like the average teaching contract for foreigners right?  Actually it’s not.  While most instructors receive the aforementioned benefits (plus housing), they are still considered independent contractors meaning the contract is valid for a set time (usually one year) and that the employee can be terminated at any time (of course terminations for contractors can still be contested in labour court).

This is why employment as ‘regular’ workers is so highly sought after by Koreans here.  Basically, you have unofficial tenure.  In other words, it’s nearly impossible to get fired unless you do something illegal or seriously fuck up or the company goes under.  Trust me, I’ve seen more than a handful of less-than-capable employees in my time here but I’ve yet to see a termination.  Of course, rather than terminating someone outright, the company will do things to have an unwanted employee quit on their own such as moving them to another department or branch far from their home or just making their daily life miserable.  Now I’ve seen plenty of that.

Okay I got a little sidetracked there.  Basically, I was saying that if an employer tells you that you don’t understand Korean culture or some other nonsense, their pretty much asking you to bend over or be flexible regardless of what it says in the contract.  My advice would be, if the issue is small such as having you come in on a Saturday to make up for a class missed due to swine flu or some other unforeseen reason, just do it.  It’s not worth the fuss for something that will can be done and forgotten about.  On the other hand, if your employer tells you he/she is going to pay you next month because they’re short on cash and if you don’t, you don’t understand Korean culture, go to the labour board.

If Korean ‘culture’ includes not contributing to taxes and pension (but still deducting it from the employees paycheque), putting foreigners in shitty housing, paying late, not paying at all, or outright lying about aspects of the contract, we have a lot to worry about.

Written by recruiterinkorea

January 21, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Bad situation at a job?

with 2 comments

I hope you don’t mind Reprobate but I posted your comment here to give an example of a negative situation at work.  The example given doesn’t necessarily seem too bad, but Reprobate doesn’t disclose as to why the female VP doesn’t like him (or her?).  Maybe that’s for another post.

In a nutshell, the female VP does not like me, so in essence, I’m pretty much screwed. I asked my handler (primary co-teacher) to get me the answers to the following questions; When do I have to vacate the premisis? How do I empty my national pension? The ARC card expires on X, the contract on Y and there’s no exit date on my visa, just a “window” for entering S. Korea. Do I need to extend my ARC card. When will my flight reimbursement and contract completion settlement be deposited into my account?

This was 4-5 days ago. She’s nowhere to be found. So I get a text message yesterday stating my name and telling me “Stay Period Expiration Date : 2010.02.19″.
OK, where did this text message come from? King Sejong? Kim Jong Il? I assumed it was from immigration. But why did they just randomly text me this information without indentifying themselves? I caught the head of the English dept. spying on my winter camp class yesterday like a little girl. “Bagged” her red-handed!! Thoroughly enjoyed that moment!! Why is she sneaking around like a pre-teen school girl? Who knows. I gave up trying to comprehend what’s going on in this country.

There’s something going on around me, that pertains to me. I have no idea waht it is, but I know it’s there. I realize I may sound like a paraniod sociopath by stating this, but I’m not. Atleast I hope i’m not!! I just want to make sure I understand exactly what needs to be done in regard to the issues I have asked you about. I just don’t want anything coming back to haunt me. I see enough ghosts as it is.

Again, thanks for your input Mr. Recruiter. I’d send you a gallon of soju in appreciation, but your a phantom of the highest caliber.

You’re not the only one feeling paranoid and no, you’re not a sociopath.  Sometimes management tries to avoid foreigners as much as possible thus giving them little to no pertinent information.  My best guess is that they don’t want to speak in their shitty or non-existent English in front of their Korean colleagues or perhaps they’re too lazy to try to dig out information for you.  Either way, it’s stupid.

They may also feel that questions about pension are your responsibility.  Actually, if you don’t deal with E-2 residents on a regular basis, you may be pretty unaware of the processes to claim pension so it’s best to ask the pension office or other foreigners about this.

Other things, like severance, your airfare, and ARC issues, they should know and inform you about.

Cases where you feel a sense of dislike from management or coworkers are all too common in Korean workplaces for both Koreans and foreigners alike.  Some of it is perceived but unfortunately, usually it’s true.

The best thing to do is be diplomatic at all times.  A fellow recruiter at one of the big chains informed me that an instructor recently blew up at the director over some issue in front of other instructors and students.  He was promptly terminated.

While being diplomatic, if you’re not getting the answers you’re looking for, just be persistent to the point of annoyance.  If they will not get off their lazy asses to extend your ARC, simply tell them that you cannot legally work without a valid ARC.  Even though you may like your handler/co-teacher, annoy the shit out of her too.  They’ll finally be fed up and give you the answers that you need.  Try to get it in an email too if they try to pull a fast one later.

These are answers that they should be giving to you anyways.  This is a public school correct?  Maybe you should try contacting the recruiter for some answers.  If they are decent, they should help you out.

Remember at all times, be professional and calm.  I know things like this tend to piss most you off but as long as you don’t blow your top, you should get your answers.

Written by recruiterinkorea

January 20, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Funny blog…

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I’m a big fan of ROKetship.  I’m gyopo (gave you guys a piece of the puzzle?) so I don’t encounter things that most foreigners do in Korea but when I’m with my ‘real’ foreigner friends, I can certainly see how they see things.  ROKetship is a great reflection of these experiences.

Jan 19


Written by recruiterinkorea

January 19, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Even honest recruiters make mistakes…

with 11 comments

After all, we’re human too.  I’ve always touted that myself and the agency that I work for do our best to upkeep our reputation as honest, straightforward, trustworthy recruiters with our adamant refusal to work with dishonest employers.  You also know (if you read my other posts) that I absolutely hate recruiters that will sell their own sisters to make a fee.  Those guys don’t last too long.  Me?  I’ve been doing this for more than 4 years now.

However, in trying to maintain our reputation, we sometimes make mistakes too.  Granted, most of these are unintentional (I say ‘most’ because no one is perfect right?) but from the outside looking in (applicants) it could very well look like we’re trying to pull a fast one.  I misplaced a candidate’s documents once.  They actually fell between my desk and my co-workers’.  I spent days looking for it with no luck.  Fortunately, the candidate wanted to delay his arrival.  He was actually not angry about the situation but indeed it was my bad.  I ended up reimbursing him $40 (not too bad for a replacement dipoma) and then found the diploma about a month later.

Another time, I mixed up 2 people with the exact same first and last name who were to arrive around the same time.  Long story short, I ended up giving the wrong guy the contract that was suppose to go to the other guy.  Wasn’t too happy about the situation.

I am a perfectionist but sometimes flubs like these happen.  Thanks to those candidates who understand that we make mistakes too.  For the ones that got super pissed at me, well can’t really blame you (I would too in some situations!).  Luckily, nothing too big where visas got messed up or schools ended up canceling contracts due to recruiter error.

Knock on wood~

Written by recruiterinkorea

January 18, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Things not to do after you get a job

with 7 comments

With the number of applicants that we’re receiving, it’s inevitable that there will be more than a handful of numbnuts who absolutely get under my skin, before, during, and upon being placed at their respective job.  Most of you know by now that I won’t even consider a candidate who doesn’t take the application seriously or read the advertisement properly or sends in a silly photo with their resume.  I would normally drop a candidate if they start acting funny during the application, depending on the situation.  Since there is an abundance of applicants applying for teaching positions in Korea, be on your best behaviour.  If you’re an average or less than desirable candidate, expect to be passed over for someone that will take the application more seriously.

Okay, so that’s just the application process.  What really pisses me off though are the candidates that apply, agree to the terms, sign the contract, send their visa docs, get the code, get the visa, fly in, and then start complaining about the terms and conditions that they agreed upon!!!!!  This not only reeks of unprofessionalism but utter stupidity.  Please do your research before you 100% commit to a position.  In my opinion, the ‘commitment’ starts at the signed contract submitted with visa documents stage.  That pretty much means that you are taking the job (but I’m not saying that you cannot back out if something really goes sour).

Of course things can go south with the school such as terms changing or you getting really shitty housing.  In those cases, you have every right to bitch and complain.  But I’m not talking about that.  What I’m talking about are guys that come over and bitch about their pay, hours, etc., that was already agreed upon via a signed contract!  You’re just creating a bad situation/image of yourself to your school and coworkers.

Even if you find a better gig, the best/honourable thing to do is to finish out your contract if you’re not getting screwed over.  However, bear in mind that you likely won’t be surprised once you arrive in Korea that there are a ton of better positions out here as long as you do thorough research from home.

Written by recruiterinkorea

January 15, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Number of hagwon increases 50-fold

with 5 comments

When I saw the title of this article, I got a little excited.  Finally, a turnaround on the poor economy?  Then I read this:

The number of Korea’s private educational institutes, known as hagwon, has increased nearly 50-fold since 1970.

Nevertheless I feel sorry for Korean kids.  When I was young (which was a very long time ago), I came home from school around 3:30 pm, did some homework if I had any, ate a snack, played video games, watched TV, ate dinner, and was in bed by 11:00 pm.  Man I miss those days.  I did go to a math hagwon for a couple of months but other than that, I had tons of free time to meet friends and do nothing.

Kids need a social life too but it’s way too competitive here.  Can’t complain though; it’s keeping us in business after all.

Written by recruiterinkorea

January 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

‘Advice’ from another recruiter in Korea

with 9 comments

Found this interesting post from another recruiter in Korea on Esl Teacher’s Board.  I’ll give my point of view for each of this recruiter’s in BOLD.

[Note: The writer of this article is a recruiter for Korea called Recruiter 45 who posted in our Discussion forum. Recruiter 45 was answering a reply of someone by the name of Hangul who was replying to an ESL teacher in Korea with some difficulties with his employer. You can find the message at this link in our dicsussion forum:;read=1351]

I want to add that jobs in Korea that look too good to be true e.g. 2.5 million won, one late afternoon shift, 5 days a week, middle of Seoul, single apt, etc…., most of the time are just a bait from low-life English language centers to attract naive teachers.

My 2 cents:

* Beware of schools hiring directly without a recruiter in between. Most schools are too busy (if they are making wons) to spend much time screening and hiring teachers. The reasons some schools do this is 1) because they don’t have $ to pay the recruiter and 2) because recruiters know them as a non-reliable school (if the teacher goes to a bad school and quits, then the recruiter does not make any $. Most schools now ask between 3 to 6 months of money back from recruiters in case the teachers quit or are fired. In other countries like Japan, Taiwan and Thailand, the money back from the recruiter to the school is sometimes a full year).

This could be true for smaller schools but a shady recruiter will just about work with anyone and step over their mother to get the recruiter fee.  However, bigger chain schools such as YBM, Chungdahm, and Poly have central recruiting offices that recruit only for their respective schools.  Just because a school wants to recruit on their own, doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t afford a recruiter’s services or are up to no good.

* Follow the advice of Hangul and talk ON THE PHONE with other ESL teachers at the school before you sign or agree to any contract. Try to talk to more than one ESL teacher. Scumbag directors are scumbags all the time and everywhere, so the other teachers at the school will know this.

Couldn’t agree more.  Sometimes email communication will suffice but beware of shoddy English.  Of course the Director will put you in contact with the instructor that is having the best experience at their particular school.

* Try not to get jobs while you are in Korea where you have to work in more than one different school.

Not only is this illegal, unless it’s explicitly stated on your visa, who wants to work at more than one place especially if it’s further away?

* Be careful when any school tries to fly you in quickly to Korea without the E2 visa procedure, promising a Japan visa run after. Most of the time there is no E2 visa at all during your contract with the school.

Again, this is illegal.  If the school is willing to do this, who knows what else they have up their sleeve. Also, visa runs are impossible unless you were previously issued an E-2 visa.  You have to get it in your home country now.

* If you have the bad luck to be working in a bad school, that threatens you with a breach of contract case if you quit, be diplomatic instead of fighting legally (you will lose anyway). If the school owes you money, then settle for a good letter of realease and reference and FORGET about the money. It would cost you more money being without a job or working illegally because of the breach of contract case. Do not help the school to get a replacement teacher: you don’t want another ESL teacher to go through the same bad esperience you had.

Have to disagree.  If the school’s in the wrong, then by all means, go to the labour board.  However, I’ve seen cases of disgruntled instructors trying to get something that they don’t deserve and their case was promptly dismissed.  Make sure you’re getting screwed before making a case.  I do agree that if the amount is small, just cut your losses, get a letter of release, and move on.

* Try always to make around the same salary than the other ESL teachers at your school. If you make alot more than the others, your chances of problems with the school and the other ESL teachers will increase (source of most of problems and physical fights).

Hell no.  If you get paid more it’s probably because you deserve it.  You shouldn’t talk about salaries with co-workers anyways.

* If you are already in Korea, be aware that you don’t have much of an advantage over other teachers in Canada and elsewhere who never went to Korea. Good schools often ask for teachers abroad; they prefer newcomers to teachers that have already been teaching in Korea.

True.  Schools that recruit a lot would prefer newbies over domestic guys with experience.  Why?  Cheaper for the most part.  Of course there are some schools that specifically want experienced instructors in Korea, namely the ’boutique’ hagwons.  Also, guys with F-series visas.

* Listen to your ESL teachers friends for advice, but follow your own instint and heart choosing the right job. This point is important because the more you wait for a “golden job” to appear, the more money you lose.

Couldn’t agree more

* If you have a MA, lots of experience etc. do no look at other esl teachers as inferior; you are just the same: a temporary worker.

* Open your mind and look at other places than central Seoul close to the other ESL teacher’s gangs and the bars. Try other cities and towns in Korea. Always go to work where YOU ARE WANTED, even if that is any of the towns of the south where there are no ESL teachers.

Absolutely right.  Flexibility with location=more options.

* Looking for an ESL teaching job in Korea is a FULL TIME JOB, so please don’t sit waiting for an email or phone call from a recruiter or school. You have to GET IT, contact as many schools and recruiters you can.

Yes, be proactive!

* Happy teachers in Korea are not always the best paid, but the ones that are in good schools.

My thoughts exactly.

Best to you all.

Written by recruiterinkorea

January 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized