Recruiters in Korea
So your looking to come and make some big money as an English teacher here is Korea? Recruiters in Korea can be a mixed bag. For one, Don’t sign a contract without being 100% satisfied that your requirements are being met. Typical contracts can be found on the efl-law website. You can and should negotiate details as you see fit. Try not to be taken for a ride. For example, a typical work week is 30 hours, but you should be aware of how those hours are likely to be allocated. Do the hours include weekends, split shifts, or working at more than one location? Sick days: How many are you allowed and are they paid? Do you prefer to work with kindergartners or with adults?
Directors can be of two kinds. Either they can speak English very well and maybe have previous experience as a teacher. Therefore being more concerned about the students and the quality of English education. If you want to teach in a hakwan, these two factors are very important to surmise before signing a contract. You don’t want to work for a hakwan director who knows no English and who only has Won signs in his or her eyes. You will see them from a mile away.
You should also ask to speak to or email the out-going native English teacher. Usually, these teachers will be honest with you about their experience. If they haven’t done a midnight run, or negotiated out of the contract early, it’s a good sign. Also ask to speak with the director on the phone so that you can make a personal decision about working for him or her.
A few words about recruiters: There are almost as many recruiters as there are hakwans. You should never pay a recruiter to find you a job; they should get paid by the hakwon. Tell the recruiter what you want and let them present you with potential employers; ask to see the contracts and negotiate them if you are interested. For example, I told my recruiter that I didn’t want to be in Seoul (too big a city), I wanted to be near the ocean, and I didn’t want to teach kindergarteners. Based upon my requirements, he found me exactly what I wanted. What I didn’t do, but should have, is to negotiate the details of the contract such as sick time. Such negotiations are the teacher’s responsibility, not the recruiter’s.
Recruiters are helpful, but remember that they are in it to make money, and they make money by placing teachers. You have to make sure you are satisfied with the contract, the location, the school, etc. Once you get to the hakwan, and you find that things are not as they were presented, you can go back to the recruiter—who might help re-negotiate with the director. However, it is not their job to do so. Many recruiters consider their work done as soon as you arrive at the hakwan. So do your homework and be as ready as you can be.