English teacher recruiters find teachers for jobs in private and public schools. They are one of the major players in the ESL world. They usually work independently from the school and act as a middle man offering communication between the teacher and employer.

Some large franchises or corporations like, Hess in Taiwan, AEON in Japan, YBM in Korea and Disney English in China recruit teachers in-house.

Recruiters are similar to real estate agents. They are in fact selling you a job and they do have personal interests involved as they make money from the school or directly from you.

In Japan dispatch companies like Interac, Owls, KBS are private companies that are basically recruiters that provide ALT teachers for the public school yet also pay the teacher.

Recruiting ESL teachers is their business

Most recruiters these days get paid from the school after they have found a teacher. This is the common way of doing it in Korea - which is pretty much dominated by recruiters. Sometimes recruiters can request a fee from you the teacher after they have found you a job. That fee may be taken out of your first months pay.

Some recruiters do this in Taiwan and in China. I do think that this way is becoming less common though and I would not pay a recruiter. Here's a snippet about a recruiter in China doing this.

Even Dewey in Taiwan (possibly the largest recruiter there) gets paid by the school. Recruiters can make pretty good money. In Korea they make around $1000 per teacher recruited. If you are looking for a job in Korea I'd recommend watching this video.

My rambling Youtube video needs editing, but has some good info in there... if your patient


Recruiters are middle men that often just create more distance from what you want - a job. Many times they don't know any more about the job than the basic information that you can see on the website. This is also what this teacher in Korea says.

I never liked interacting with them from the beginning and I did have one bad experience with one. So my advice would be to not use one and I am not just saying that because of that one experience. I just didn't really like them then I gave one guy a chance because I really needed a job then and that just confirmed what I already knew.

It's like...

"Why do I have to deal with you? You are not the school. I don't need you. I need a job."

But they're like...

"No, you do need me because I have the job (smiling with dollar signs in their eyes)."

It just seems like they're someone who is not a necessity. It's like they are just trying to cash in.

They are either selling themselves to the schools or to you. If they are selling themselves to the schools then the schools are paying them and if they are selling their selves to you then you are going to pay them.

I am trying to be diplomatic here^^, but I just don't like them.

It's like they're salesmen. They don't really offer much of a service except for talking on the phone. But they will say, "No, it is work, we're helping blah, blah, blah."

Aside from that one time I talked and interviewed with recruiters before, but never took a job from one.

How English teacher recruiters in Korea advertise

I saw a popular recruiter saying they offer more "reputable jobs" and that's why you should use them. Some TEFL course providers say the same thing. I doubt it.

In Korea they use sites like ESLcafe.com to post their jobs.

They use names like:

  • HiKoreaEdu
  • Premier ESL Recruiting
  • Korea Global Connections
  • Engkorea Agency
  • Korvia Consulting

CLICK HERE (for click bait) 

They usually post multiple jobs at a time and their headlines can use words like:

  • URGENT! or ASAP! I would be careful. I am skeptical of positions like this. Chances are they are going to rush you into a job. It depends, but it's not usually a good sign. I think most good schools wouldn't wait until last minute to hire a teacher. It's also possible a teacher quit too. Personally I don't like to be rushed so it's your call, but don't say I told you so.
  • REMARKABLE teaching postiions

Maybe, maybe, but a lot of that terminology is just marketing hype.

Who's the best recruiter?

If you have to use one then I'd recommend doing your research and watching the video for some helpful tips on dealing with them. Also you can use them to get just general information out about teaching, the school and some country info. But they want to get paid so I wouldn't be to obvious about the fact that you want to just use them^^.

  1. Spread yourself out. Don't commit to any one recruiter for finding a job.
  2. If you have to use one then use one that's getting paid by the school unless of course you want to give them money.
  3. Beware. They are selling you a job. They could make a job sound better than it is. Bait and switch is not uncommon. For example, they could tell you about a job that sounds borderline perfect and then suddenly say that job is no longer available and offer you another one instead.
  4. Don't use one. Instead of looking up reviews on recruiters focus on getting a job directly through a school. That's what I would do. For example, go look at Dave's ESL Cafe for jobs in Korea and I'd estimate that 90% of the jobs there are through recruiters. However, the remaining 10% are usually the better jobs. I go into more detail about that in the following video.

If you do use one...

Questions to ask recruiters

  1. Have you been to the school? In many cases they don't know anymore about the job than you do, which is the salary, work hours, benefits, student level, etc. You can see that on their website. After you have seen a few they all start to look alike. Have you seen the housing (if they are offering it)?
  2. How do you get paid? Some charge teachers. If they do they could take some money (a percentage) from your check for the first month or maybe even a monthly amount.
  3. Can I talk to the school and teachers working there? This is a trick to finding a good job.
  4. Are you registered with the Korean, Japanese, (insert country) labor board? I imagine many small ones are not. Then ask what's their license number. The first two questions are more important, but this is another one that you could ask.

Apparently there are some decent ones out there as some people have no problems with them.

All of my jobs, except for one I found without a recruiter. 

And that was a pretty rocky experience and you can hear more about it in the video "Horror Stories". I'd also say that many of the best jobs do not use recruiters.

"Oh, and last thing, don't be loyal to a single recruiter. Send 100 emails (seriously my benchmark number) to recruiters and be specific." - Reddit user

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