Recruiter In Korea

The Honest Truth About Recruiting in Korea

Archive for July 2010

The Future of the Korean ESL Market

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Jason wrote:

What is your predictions about the future of the Korean ESL market? Flooded market or teacher’s market? I would love to you know your insight on the current state of affairs.

I’ve been recruiting for around 4 years and I’ve never seen the teacher market as flooded as I did last year.  Sure, it’s flooded now but definitely not as much as last year when the U.S. economy was in the shits (wait, is that over yet?).  Last year, I definitely saw a shift from relatively less positions with significantly more applicants.  However, from my experience in 2010, it has become more normalized.  Maybe it’s because the growth of the number of available teaching positions outpaced the increase of applicants (the market which is still significantly flooded).

The month of May is always the worst month for recruiting.  In May 2009, this wasn’t an issue for the first time as a recruiter.  This year though, it was definitely a little more tougher (a little more, not a lot), than it was the previous year around the same time.  I believe that it will be a long way before it ever becomes a ‘teacher’s market’.  Even before the economy tanked, it was always a revolving door where instructors were easily replaced by newbies.

As long as the unemployment rate increases in the U.S. (currently at 9.5%), jobs in Korea will definitely become more competitive.  Teaching jobs will always be plentiful in Korea, regardless of the economy.  I would love to say that competitiveness between instructors for teaching jobs will improve the quality of the ESL market in Korea, but we all know that’s not true.  I think that we can just expect an increase of pretty people.

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July 26, 2010 at 10:56 am

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More on Candidate’s Appearances

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From my previous post, Joy asked:

I would like to know the stratification of this topic. Do public schools base their choices more on appearance, background or experience? Since public schools aren’t keeping a business alive they don’t ideally need to worry about who is at the front of the class. But I have been in Korea long enough to know that my initial logical thinking is probably wrong. *PS I work at public schools & I am white, female…average weight.

I forgot to mention in the last post that it’s mostly after-school academies that are picky about appearances.  Public schools, as far as I know, are very liberal when accepting candidates.  Of course discrimination is illegal in Korea but we all know that means jack squat.  There may even be discriminatory practices at public schools although because they’re ‘government’ they won’t be as blatant as hagwons.  You’re right; public schools are not businesses like hagwons so they don’t have to worry about students dropping out because they don’t like the instructors appearance, etc.

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July 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm

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Candidates’ Appearances

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This thread on ESL Cafe gave me the idea for this post.  Any foreigner who has been in Korea for more than a day will understand that Koreans in general are very ‘keen’ (sorry can’t think of a better word right now) of appearances.  Of course, some are just downright racist and sexist but today let’s just talk about physical appearance.

Recruiters essentially work for the schools (clients) so they have every right to reject a candidate.  However, I did state that our particular agency will not work with schools that request a specific physical ‘look’ as long as the candidate qualifies for the E-2 visa.  But of course they can still reject.  If we deem the rejection to be unreasonable, they go down on the priority list.

One of our best clients actually doesn’t care about appearance at all.  They currently have several gyopo, African-American/Canadian, Asian (non-gyopo) and basically a whole array of instructors of all shapes, sizes, and colours.  Guess what?  They’re one of our most successful and biggest clients.  Of course they look at the photo of all candidates that we recommend to them but the things they look at the most closely are their qualifications and the way their personality shows in their video (which we now provide to all clients).

That’s only one school.  There are others who are doing just as well who care more about qualifications than appearance but I would say the vast majority do care about the latter.  It’s just an unfortunate fact about Korea.  If you are overweight (especially), you will definitely have a more difficult time finding a position than someone who is not.  It won’t be impossible, just more difficult.  Also bear in mind that Koreans have a tendency to be pretty blunt.  They will tell you you’re fat or you have bad skin or that you’re short.  If you don’t have thick skin, you probably won’t last a year.

Also, I know some schools do some voodoo facial reading shit (I never understood this) which they use to rule out candidates.  Of course this is BS but whatever they’re reading on the face of a picture, they feel that they could read off some attribute without ever meeting/talking to the person.

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July 15, 2010 at 11:13 am

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New drug test plan angers native English teachers

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From the Korea Times.

I know that some of the big chain schools already test for drugs but it will be in full effect starting from this Thursday.  Don’t really get how this has anything to do with marijuana though:

Facing a number of crimes by native English teachers, the Korea Immigration Service (KIS) has required foreigners hoping to teach English here to submit to HIV-AIDS and drug-tests from 2008.

So people who smoke dope and have AIDS are more likely to commit crimes?  Or maybe they think that pedophile from Daegu was a dopehead too.

This isn’t something new though.  After the Christopher Neil incident in 2007, they made everyone get the criminal background check and drug test but:

At that time, KIS planned to include both TBPE and cannabinoids, but it gave up the latter because of a lack of hospitals equipped with the test devices, and smoking marijuana is not illegal in some countries.

So here we go again.  Normally, I would say if you got nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t worry about anything.  But I strongly believe that discrimination plays a role and foreign language instructors do have a right to be peeved:

Greg Dolezal, president of the Association for Teachers of English in Korea (ATEK), said, “We also believe strongly that any legislation aimed at protecting children from abuse should be applied equally to all teachers, and should not discriminate based on nationality, race, or any other demographic.

Of course the Korean government will come back and say something like ‘marijuana is not available in Korea so testing of Korean nationals is not necessary’ or some kind of BS like that.  At least they’re not just singling out E-2 holders though:

The bill seeks to obligate all native English teachers, whether they are ethnic Koreans or not, to present criminal and drug test results that were issued less than one month prior to them landing a teaching position.

As expected and noted from my post from yesterday, there will be tougher restrictions:

In addition, the agency will require English-teacher hopefuls to prove the authenticity of their college degrees, as well as criminal background documents from their governments.

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July 13, 2010 at 5:37 pm

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Korean Entertainer Salaries

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Some food for thought.   I already knew this but a lot of entertainers barely scrape by.

The NTS statistics reveal that the average annual income of an entertainer in 2008 was W28.5 million — W38 million for actors, W26 million for singers and W11 million for models.

Of course this is just an average and based on their ‘declared’ income.

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July 12, 2010 at 10:39 am

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Daegu Pedophile

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It seems that I haven’t posted in awhile.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that this time of year is the busiest recruiting season so consequently I’ve been absolutely swamped.

Probably the biggest news in the ESL industry in Korea these days is the creepy 55 year old teacher who molested little boys in Daegu and then fled the country.  This just adds fuel to the fire of all the incidents regarding sex assaults against minors but this particular incident will again put another black eye on the reputation of foreigners (especially English instructors) in Korea.  Nothing irks me more than sex offenders, especially the ones that prey on little kids.  There’s only one solution for these guys.

The word that we’ve been hearing from immigration is that all potential E-2 candidates must now get a national criminal check (FBI) instead of the state background check that currently suffices.  The guy accused actually had a F-2 (yes, he ditched his wife in Korea) so I’m assuming that they will be checked too.  It won’t kick in until next year.  There suppose to post a notice this week so I’ll update once I hear more about it.

Once again, one loser makes it harder for everyone else.  I’d be willing to place a bet that this guy doesn’t even have a criminal record back home.  Remember when they made everyone get a criminal background check for the E-2?  The guy who taught in Korea and then fiddled with little boys in Thailand didn’t have a record as well.

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July 12, 2010 at 10:09 am

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Seoul 14th in cost of living for expats

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These cost of living rankings always amuse me.  They always use the standards of ‘expatriate’ or how one would live in their home country which is obviously very misleading:

“That’s due to the won’s gain against the dollar at that time. Meanwhile, the demand for good expatriate housing increased amid signs of an economic recovery,” Nathalie Constantin-Metral, a senior researcher at Mercer responsible for compiling the rankings, said in a statement.

They should take into consideration that many expatriates do not purchase their own housing or car and live by relatively modest means.  The transportation system for example is very efficient and far more cheaper than back home.  Actually I don’t use public transportation but the last time I did, it was about 1,000 KRW for a single trip compared to $2.50 CAN for a trip in Toronto (last time I checked).  Also, taxis are much more affordable here than in North America.

If you eat at TGIFs, Bennigans, and other western restaurants, of course you’ll spend a lot on food.  But if you still with Korean food and just cook at home, food is much more cheaper here.  One of the biggest pluses of living in Korea, is that you are not expected to tip (taxis, restaurants, delivery), other than fancy hotels and restaurants.

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July 1, 2010 at 10:52 am

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