Recruiter In Korea

The Honest Truth About Recruiting in Korea

Archive for May 2010

KT to lower bar for foreign residents’ mobile phone subscriptions

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Any English language instructor on an E-2 visa will tell you how restrictive it is to say an F-4 or F-2.  This is all too evident when it comes to getting a mobile phone.  I believe LG allows regular contract phones (sans huge deposit) whereas most other places make you get a Korean co-signer or put down 250,000 to 300,000 KRW to make sure you don’t run off on the bill when your contract is up:

Among foreign subscribers, 52 percent have pre-paid plans, and some even borrow identification from Koreans to receive mobile service in the country due to the strict guidelines governing purchases of mobile phones by foreigners.

If those options fail, it’s pay-as-you-go which can be quite annoying as you have to constantly fill up on minutes but at least you can control your phone bill costs and still actually receive calls and texts even though you run out of money.

Looks like KT is going to be more flexible with foreigners now in terms of getting a phone on a regular contract plan.  Maybe this plan is finally starting to kick in and companies are starting to realize that money is to be made of foreigners rather than playing off a fear of constant default.

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May 30, 2010 at 2:55 pm

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Economy can handle some turmoil: MOF

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I was really worried today that stocks were going to tank due to the whole Cheonan incident and the European crisis, the latter of which contributed to the massive reaming that U.S. and other markets took last week.  Good thing that Friday was a holiday (not for me though), which gave the markets here a rest and investors time to think and not make major pullouts.

I was pleasantly surprised to see most stocks go up today.  Looks like the Ministry of Finance is doing what it can to squash some of the fears as well:

But Seoul’s financial turbulence has largely moderated since last Friday, since the market rout last Thursday largely stemmed from southern Europe’s debt crisis, said Lim.

While blue chips aren’t doing well overall, it looks like smaller firms are faring much better.  My Asiana is up more than 50%!!

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May 24, 2010 at 2:22 pm

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One of the Negatives of being a Recruiter in Korea

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Well, every job essentially sucks.  That’s why it’s a ‘job’.  I think I’m pretty lucky with my agency and pay but you could bet that a lot of other English language instructor recruiters that probably want to kill themselves.  Either that or they’re too stupid or desperate to take their job seriously.  Next time an idiot recruiter tries to screw around with you, take into consideration their pathetic existence (ha!) and they probably won’t last that long anyways.  After you wipe away that tear, dump him/her and move onto the next one or even better, apply directly to a school (if possible).

Some of you may be interested in moving on from teaching and go onto recruiting.  You have to put in tons of hours (if you take your job seriously of course).  Forget about holidays too; I had to come in last Friday (Buddha day or whatever it was).  When I’m not at home working, I’m on my BlackBerry.  Because we’re based in Korea, there’s a lot of correspondence with our overseas partners and candidates.  So we work all day (of course overtime is expected in Korea), come home when the N.A. business day starts, then wake up to a full inbox.

Okay I don’t hate my job that much; it could be worse of course.  Just that the hours are hurting me these days.  Now that the summer rush is about to begin, looks like it won’t get any easier any time soon.  But as moms says, better to be busy than not busy at all.

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May 24, 2010 at 11:50 am

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The F-2-7 Visa

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Good news for people in Korea who only qualify for the E-2 visa but wish to stay here and expand their horizons.  As we all know, the E-2 visa is a hell of a restrictive visa as opposed to those with an F-series visa; can’t work in more than one location without permission, setting up a regular mobile phone plan, getting a credit card, etc, are very difficult with an E-2 visa.

This new visa is a step in the right direction and while some are complaining that the bar is set too high to qualify for it, I think the government simply wants to protect the domestic workforce from too much competition while at the same time, open the door ever so slightly for new talent.

Totally agree with this guy:

“It’s not a right, you have to earn it. If someone’s coming over here and wants more freedom, they have to earn it.” And he intends to do just that, by investing the time and energy to add to his current point total of 35. Wright has already registered to take the Korean Immigration and Integration Program and will be taking the test to verify his Korean proficiency, among other things. Wright did, however, express some frustrations with the new visa, namely the complicated structure, lack of clear information, and inconsistent implementation.

Check out the point scheme for getting the visa:

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May 18, 2010 at 1:26 pm

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Ask the Recruiter: SAT Hagwons

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Lila Duggan asks:

Hey I’m looking into teaching English in Korea and I heard some people make bank with SAT hakwons. What’s your view on teaching at these SAT hakwons? Do you know what the best paying ones are-and the salary for them? I heard about the guy who got beat up because he was going to move hakwons…are these contracts legal under international law or is it just pieces of paper that barely cover up shady businesses?

I first discussed SAT/boutique hagwons here on my blog and 100% agree that these are the best teaching positions for making the best coin in Korea.  Since the Daechi area of Seoul is arguably the more affluent in all of Korea, I would say that this specific location is probably your best bet in terms of finding one of these gigs.  From my experience, these places rarely advertise, and the SAT instructors that I know of, found their jobs through word of mouth.  Also, these places tend to hire Korean-Americans with F-4s more than E-2 holders but I do know of a handful of the latter with these jobs.

I talked about someone I know here who teaches SATs full time.  It’s not an easy gig, as he works about 8 hours a day including weekends.  With his car, apartment, and bank account, I’m pretty sure that he thinks it’s worth it though.  Let’s just say his salary typically is more than 10 million KRW a month and up to 30 million KRW during peak season (when visa students return to Korea for vacation).

Yes, you’re right in terms of a lot of these places operating illegally in some way whether that be having classes beyond 10:00 pm, overcharging students through supplementary books, CDs, etc., and not reporting all their income.  Hagwon moms don’t really give a shit though as long as their kid has the edge.

The guy you’re referring to getting a beat down is this guy.

So that’s pretty much how it is in a nutshell.  Since these places rarely advertise (except maybe Princeton Review), you’re best bet would be to actually go to these places in person and show them your resume and proof of your perfect or near perfect SAT score.  Bear in mind though, unless you have a super high score AND went to a top ten U.S. school, they probably won’t give you a second look.

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May 17, 2010 at 10:28 am

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10 phrases you should ban from your resume

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I gave tips on writing resumes for Korean employers before here and here.  I found this interesting article on Yahoo regarding resumes that should extend my previous advice.

If a Korean director of an English academy reads a resume, they won’t give a rat’s ass about anything else besides your education and experience.  For a native-speaking recruiter like myself, I could honestly care less about the same.  Don’t add general cliches to your resume just for the sake of doing so or even worse, to make it longer.  As we recruiters are dealing in mass quantity, the last thing  we want to do with out days is read a novel (the same one over and over again).

Everything should be to the point but if there are significant aspects of your life that you feel are worthy for an employer, keep it short and to the point.  Most importantly, PROVE IT!

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May 14, 2010 at 11:05 am

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Korean Web addresses set to go all ‘hangeul’

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I don’t think this is really a good idea as it won’t help the company branch out globally unless they have a web address in English as well.  I do know that some Korean companies use ‘hangeul’ in their web addresses; one example was a local rental car company I used a couple years back.

True it will help non-English speakers but how big is that niche who cannot speak a lick or even know how to read/type a couple of Roman characters?

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May 12, 2010 at 10:45 am

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Racist Recruiters

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I brought this up several times before and I know that anyone that has lived in Korea for more than one day is well aware that racism is alive and kicking here.  I happened upon this thread on ESL Cafe and wasn’t too surprised to read the following:

Another guy I know had him simply tell him Korean schools don’t like to hire black people, and hasn’t tried to get him a job. Holy crap, at least he could pretend to make it sound like he does not agree with the schools and lie about the reasons why the school rejected him, rather than make people feel guilty for trying to work in a “modern country” with a certain skin color. The scary thing is their office is in Vancouver, but I guess whether it is Canada or America it is still the same ugly side of Korea that shows.

Now, I’m not sure if this is true or not but if it is, then again, I’m not too surprised.  Just so uneducated and so unprofessional but hey, at least you’re making me look better.

I can’t say that I’m 100% innocent when it comes to race relations but I definitely wouldn’t outright say something that would make me look like a racist (I’m not).  However, with this industry comes the demands of the clients (hagwons, old-school directors) and we have to give them what they want.  Smart/politically-correct clients would never outright say they don’t hire black people or Chinese-Canadians (born in Canada!); they would just make up some excuse as to why not to hire them.  However, if we do see a negative trend, we simply tell them that we cannot place an instructor on time.

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May 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm

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Non-teaching Foreigners in Korea Making Big Bucks

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We all know that there’s a lot of ‘ballers’ in Korea making an annual salary of 100,000,000 KRW (roughly a hundred grand) or more.

This piece caught my eye though.

An annual salary of more than 300 million won ($266,190), a rental apartment in the posh Gangnam area, and a chauffeur-driven car was what the Korea National Oil Corporation was willing to pay to become the first state-affiliated company to hire foreign executives.

For you instructors hoping to stay here and go into other fields though, it’s obviously tough with all the visa restrictions.  I do know a couple of guys who work as contractors for the U.S. army who make a pretty penny (provided apartment in the luxurious Yongsan complex, monthly stipend that almost equals to my salary-on top of their regular salary, but best of all U.S. work hours and holidays!), but you know you’ve made it when you got a chauffeur!!

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May 11, 2010 at 11:53 am

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Whats the dropout rate for ESL teachers?

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This is an interesting discussion on ESL Cafe regarding the dropout rate of ESL instructors.  I do have data on this somewhere from my years of experience at my current agency but can’t seem to dig it up.  Okay I’m too lazy to look for it but I’m sure the number was somewhere around 10% within one year.  Ttompatz puts it best and I believe his number was fairly accurate:

It has been my personal experience that about 15% leave in less than 1 year, about 50% leave after 1 year and 90% are gone within 5 years.

GEPIK has seen retention rates along the same lines with small variations EXCEPT in the last 2 years where recruitment and retention rates are MUCH higher than usual.

I would imagine that the rates for early departures would escalate as you move farther south or east and isolation and culture shock become more extreme.

Hakwons on the other hand have historically had bad recruitment and retention rates especially among some of the more notorious chain schools.

By and large their reputations are well deserved.

In my experience though, I would say that more than 50% leave after one year.  Of course it depends on many factors such as location, recruitment process, but most importantly, the person.  As a recruitment agency, we’re more than happy as long as the instructor completes the first year (hell, we would actually love to see them leave so that we could bring in a new body); it’s the ones that quit after a month (or even a day), that we have to worry about.

I’ve managed to develop a keen eye for the possible dropouts so I could avoid moving forward with them if possible.

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May 10, 2010 at 2:38 pm

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