People Recruiting can not pretend that it is not in the ESL recruiting business simply to make money.
So why use a recruiting company at all? Apart from of course, making money for us, we believe there are two or three very good reasons why going through a recruiter is much better and safer than arranging things with a Korean employer directly:
After reading the (ESL in Korea) section, you should have some idea how HUGE the ESL market is in Korea. According to the Learning English section of the British expat newspaper The Guardian Weekly (29/10/93), Koreans spend a whopping 2.73% of their GDP on private tutoring at institutes, the highest in the world, but Koreans somehow still have really bad English language skills, coming 110th in average scores on TOEFL tests. This is because many Koreans think that they can cash in by setting up a language institute, but they may have absolutely no experience of teaching or of running a business and not much more money. While the vast majority of our clients are those that have used our services in the past and that teachers have had no problems with, because language institutes in Korea probably number in the tens of thousands we cannot guarantee that, through no fault of our own, a new client of ours may turn out to be a cowboy operator. In the rare event that that happens however, we will still be there to make sure that your contract is abided by (see Problems with employer below).
In contrast, if you organize your contract with a potential employer yourself, you have no way of knowing how good or bad he or she is beyond looking through blacklists of employers on the internet, although that is something we still recommend you do for peace of mind.
2)Knowledge of Korean ESL market and contract conditions
Our knowledge of the ESL job market in Korea is probably better than yours, and so we will ensure that the contract you sign will be in line with your experience and qualifications. Working 40 hours a week for 1.4 million won a month with free accommodation may sound just great after 3 years of surviving day to day by eating leftovers in the cafeteria when you were a university student, but in fact that would be one of the worst ESL jobs in Korea.
3)Knowledge of Korean employment and immigration law
4)Our Korean is really good!
Our Korean is probably much better than yours. Institute owners usually can¡¯t speak any English themselves and even Korean teachers at the institute are often scared to (that¡¯s why Koreans want native speakers ? to improve their conversational skills). You could try to negotiate your contract and organize all your travel arrangements and visa paperwork yourself, via email or over the phone, but might find that the institute owner just said ¡°yes¡± to everything without understanding and/or simply to get you to come, and knows that you once you are here you probably won¡¯t have the money to change jobs (which would require leaving Korea and coming again) when he or she reneges on the agreement you made. On top of all that, Korean immigration officials are notorious for not letting you work, paying huge fines for, or even deporting you for things that your Korean employer should have rightfully told you or are even completely his or her fault ? we speak from bitter experience.
5)We will take care of virtually everything
In contrast, we will let you know exactly what documentation you need and arrange for it to get to you, will take care of your travel arrangements, and will make sure that the contract provided for you to sign meets all the standard criteria (see Contracts). From experience completely rearranging your life to come live in Korea is a big deal to say the least and very nerve-wracking and stressful (and exciting!), so the last thing you want to worry about are things like that. There will be a few minor things like filling out the official documentation that you will need to do yourself (see What will happen after you apply?), but RELAX, we will take care of everything important (although by all means make sure that we are for your peace of mind!).
In the meantime, no matter how trivial, if you have any questions whatsoever about things like the sizes of your classes, books that will be used, the weather in the city you will be working, or the ages of your students, please don¡¯t hesitate to ask. Our native English speaker will email or call you as soon as we have the answers ? you will never have to deal with someone who doesn¡'t understand what you are asking or whose answers you won¡'t understand! Of course, absolutely all recruiting companies say this. The only way you can find out if we are as good as our word is to go ahead and contact us.
6)Problems with employers ? it¡'s a cliche, but we¡'ll be there to help!
Most of our teachers are graduates straight out of University who have little or no experience of working full-time or of living overseas ? no offense intended! But this means that it is certainly possible that before even meeting you your Korean employer will assume that you are naive and inexperienced, and upon your arrival in Korea will take one look at you, all spaced-out and reeling from the culture shock, and try to exploit any insecurities you may have by reneging on your contract. For one of us, the combination on his 2nd day in Korea of a really bad flu, his recruiter disappearing of the face of the earth, only surviving until his first payday through a NZ$2000 loan from Dad, and being threatened with dismissal and deportation by his new boss unless he agreed to a schedule that gave him only 6 hours sleep a night, proved too scary a combination to be able to refuse him. It was 7 months before another, more confident teacher arrived, and quite happily made a big show of starting to pack her belongings at the first sign of any trouble¡¦
The lesson learned was that almost all threats made by Korean bosses are just hot air, and in fact despite what they say you are far far too valuable to your employer for you to quit on them. Adult students and parents pay to have a native speaker in the classroom, and will quickly demand their money back if one isn¡¯t provided, and while if you quit your job you could find another in Korea in a matter of days, for your boss to find a replacement for you would be long and difficult and students would go to other institutes in the meantime. So as soon as your boss does something like demanding that you spend your Sunday helping to move furniture into a new building for your institute, because he or she is too cheap to hire movers, you can feel very confident in refusing.
But quitting is a drastic step, and very vindictive bosses can make life difficult for you to continue to work in Korea, so where we come in is never letting your job get so bad that you would want to. We can/will do this in four ways:
a)Under Korean employment law, if we fail to provide an ¡°adequate¡± teacher for a position, or if you unexpectedly quit in the first 3 months, then we are legally required to either return our fee or find a replacement teacher for the employer free of charge. This means that we are at great pains to only deal with good institutes.
b)You could take this to mean that Korean employers can quite happily fire teachers for any reason they like, claim it was the teacher¡¯s fault, and then claim a refund from our company, but actually it means the exact opposite. Not only does it lose them money because they don¡¯t have a teacher, but if the employer has broken the contract then we don¡¯t have to return anything. So, at the first sign of trouble please contact us, as we have a financial motivation and moral obligation to help you, and even though Korean law is admittedly heavily biased towards employers and against non-Koreans, the prospect of dealing with a posse of fluent Koreans and Westerners with bitter ESL experiences and comprehensive knowledge of Korean employment law and the legal obligations between you, them, and the employer, and most of all determined to give a bad employer exactly what he or she deserves, is a much more daunting prospect than dealing with one culture-shocked teacher.
You may well wonder why, if this is the case, do recruiters have such a bad reputation for dumping people into bad jobs and then disappearing as soon as they¡¯ve received their recruiter¡¯s fee? Well, most teachers have no idea about this 3-month law, and so feel that if they¡¯ve been unlucky enough to use a recruiter like that then they¡¯re completely on their own ? the employer certainly isn¡¯t going to let them know ? and the recruiters rely on the fact that more than 9 out of 10 teachers either don¡¯t have the resources to quit or will put up with the job as it is.
We should be clear that despite helping you with problems at work we can never act for you in any legal capacity, nor are we even legally allowed to help you find jobs if you still have a valid contract with your original employer. But things have never ever reached this dramatic stage, and almost all disputes teachers have had with their employers have been resolved in a 5-minute phone call from us. Being Korean, in Korea and speaking Korean certainly helps us with this.
c)It is true, from the above, that after 3 months we have no financial motivations for helping you. We¡¯re afraid that no recruiter can offer you more than just their word that they would still help you, but that is still a lot more than most! Besides which, all of the problems our teachers have sought our assistance with have cropped up within the first couple of weeks or so.
d)We will try to ensure that you have realistic expectations about your job, your city, your accommodation, and Korea well before you go anywhere near a plane. Discovering for instance, that your ¡°studio apartment¡± is in fact one room, with a bathroom and kitchen smaller than cupboards back home, can certainly be disappointing but isn¡¯t a breach of your contract. Korean standards of living are probably very different (and worse) than what you are used to, and we want to make absolutely sure that you will be comfortable in your new life in Korea before you go, and not want to quit your job when everything is nothing like you expected (and lose us our recruiting fee!). Please see the Contracts and Teaching Conditions sections for more information about what things are like.