While public school teaching jobs are often organized through some kind of government enterprise with a centralized application, teachers searching for private school positions in certain countries will often encounter a choice between two application methods: apply directly to the school, or go through a recruiter. TEFL recruiters help schools to identify candidates for teaching positions. Some work with multiple schools, while others work solely for one institution, sometimes internationally and sometimes strictly in one country or region. Recruiters can be a great resource for job seekers if you find the right one, but there are a few pros and cons to keep in mind.
PRO: Recruiters have connections to jobs that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to
There are A TON of schools that do their hiring through recruiters. That means there are countless jobs you can’t find on your own. If you have a specific age group, location, or schedule that you want to teach, they can also help narrow down your options. That means that you save time pouring through job listings, and hopefully wind up in a position that matches your criteria.
It can also be much easier to get your foot in the door for an interview. Once you’ve gone through the recruiter’s screening process, they can usually set you up for an interview with a quick phone call.
CON: They can help you find the perfect job… but it might not be their first priority
Working with a recruiter can be a little like working with a real estate agency: they’d probably like you to find the perfect home, but at the end of the day, there are houses that need to be sold, and they might not flat out tell you how to find the perfect house for the best price. There are some recruiting agencies that will direct you to jobs other than the one you applied for, try to lower your salary expectations, or even pressure you to say yes to a job you don’t really want. I’ve personally had more than one instance of a recruiter calling me to talk me into taking a job even after I had politely turned it down.
That being said, good recruiters will work hard to put you in a job that you’re happy with, but it helps to be straightforward about what you want. If you have a certain type of job, salary expectations, or work conditions that you’re looking for, it helps to say so. Do your research on the job market beforehand and go into the first conversation with the recruiter with a clear idea of what you want.
PRO: Guidance with visa applications, travel, and relocation can be a huge help
Because recruiters are used to working with foreign applicants, they may have insight into the relocation process that small, independent schools usually don’t. Getting a visa in certain countries can be an incredibly confusing process, and it helps to have someone who’s done it a hundred times. I once worked with a recruiter who probably saved me a lot of time just by letting me know that I would need additional documentation from my university to explain why my middle name wasn’t on my diploma. This may seem like a minor detail, but I’ve seen people spend hours in line at immigration offices because they didn’t know what documents to bring.
Recruiters can also help coordinate travel arrangements, communicate between you and the school (which may be helpful if there’s a language barrier), and learn more about your destination.
CON: Some are a lot better than others
If you’re going to let a recruiter help you find a job, find a good one. There are plenty of less-than-reputable recruiters on job boards like Craigslist, and horror stories abound of applicants being treated unfairly and unprofessionally. To be fair, there are some great recruiters on Craigslist and social media, but proceed with caution. Look for positive reviews from other teachers, and go through an established agency if you’re not sure how to navigate the process.
At the end of the day, recruiters can offer a lot of useful services, but it’s important to know what you’re looking for going into the application process, do your research, and go with an agency you’re comfortable with.
Click here to learn about popular recruitment agencies in South Korea.