Thursday, May 15, 2008

Recruiters (My experience)

This blog is going to highlight my experience with recruiters and how I managed to get a contract through one of them.

First of all a WARNING: I cannot say whether or not going with a recruiter or getting the Teaching job by yourself is better than the other. I went the recruiter route because it fit my desire to have less anxiety when finding a teaching job. So please use this blog as just a reference and not the absolute truth.

When I first started my search for a job in Korea I googled and also went to a few websites I knew about like the EPIK program. What I ended up with was a list of several programs and recruiters that I contacted for a job. The list is as followed:
When you visit their websites they all outline how to apply, get an interview and so-on. I tried to make sure there was a fluidity between all of these sites and companies. So I started to email and apply online to these places. I made some mistakes of my own along the way. Here is a review of these recruiters.

They were very nice and welcoming. However, I made the mistake that when I emailed them early on I mentioned my concern for health care and that I have Crohn's Disease which is a genetic disease that can be debilitating but when taken care of properly doesn't disrupt daily life. Anyways eventually I heard back from them and they told me they would have to not accept me due to risk I could get sick on the job. I understand that they had a liability issue on their hands, but it was really devastating to hear my disease was like a disability preventing me from my dreams.

However I picked myself up and continued my quest.

Park English:
They were all right. I got an interview by them but I applied really early and was told to wait about a month or so before I wish to leave. My goal was to find something 2 - 3 months early. Anyways, as I emailed other recruiters and got more activity from them, I noticed Park English didn't keep up with the game.

At this point I didn't tell any recruiters about my disease. So Park English kind of just didn't pan out for me.

Footprints Recruiting:
These guys were really professional and also very sincere in trying to get me placed where I wanted. Again though I ran into the problem that they wanted me to apply closer to a month before I left, but I couldn't handle such anxiety.

I did get a few interviews out of them and it was at some schools on the outer edges of Seoul. I really wanted placement in I was holding out. In the end if I didn't go with YBM I would have gone with Footprints.

Korea Connections:
These guys didn't have a problem with my applying early on. However the interviews I got were really sketchy and sometimes strange. One interview I had a with a women whose English was so-so and I tried hard to speak clearly and slowly. Yet it turned out I failed the interview. What I didn't like about Korea Connections is that I received a lot of pressure from the recruiter to make a swift decision and mail him my paperwork. I am somewhat relieved that I didn't go with them because I could have taken the risk that they would have held my paperwork as ransom till I took a certain job. Phew!

I think on the positive side these guys are really persistent and will work for you. But be cautious with their pushy attitude.

Let me just say now that this is the one that I signed a contract with. I know that if you go around Dave's ESL that you will find a lot of negativity about YBM. But I ignored all that and did what I wanted. (By the way does Dave even know that his cafe is kind of useless??)

I contacted YBM a year before I actually even took looking for a job in Korea seriously. So I had already a relationship with them. They kept on asking me to gather my paperwork and then they will consider a position for me. So after I had gathered my paperwork I let them know and they gave me several options in Seoul. Interviews came and I started to feel like I was being treated professionally and seriously.

The YBM recruiter was very point-blank about his company and told me honestly what to expect. He said that some recruiters take your paperwork and hold on to it till you take a position they like.

Needless to say I felt like YBM was the right choice. They said they guarantee you a job even if your school goes bankrupt..that sounds nice...right?

So which one is the best?
Again this is really subjective and should be based upon your own logical understanding of the process. I for one am the kind of person who bases a lot of their decisions on feelings. I think YBM was really professional along with Footprints.

I would recommend staying away from Dave's ESL cafe because it is like a swamp of negativity that can suck you into it.

All in all remember that you have the upper hand and advantage. You are the one they want to so you should make sure to be strong and bold in your choices.

Good luck!


  1. We had a recruiter on this week (ESL-Planet) on the SeoulPodcast ( It should be released sometime this weekend.

    It was very informative, and he gave us good info on the new E-2 visa rules.

  2. You're right about Dave's... there's a difference between being critical, and being ceaselessly negative. The job board is okay, though, and frankly I think it's a good idea to heed when too many people criticize a company. (Like, for example, Wonderland.)

    By the way, I don't know if you and Bo Kwan are married, but if you are, I think some of the hassles of applying for an E2 are unnecessary. Also, you're free to quit a job at will, given enough notice -- 2 or 3 months before desired date of termination? Or within the first month of the job, for a new job, basically like any Korean can do. If you're on an E2, though, you can't do that.

    Crohn's, as far as I know, is a digestive-system thing, right? It's good you'll be in Seoul, as it's easier to get, well, food that isn't all red and spicy, or fatty and meaty. (Both of which my mom, who has some condition which was for a while mistaken for Crohn's, cannot eat.) If you need help getting foreign foodstuffs for cooking, email me or google around. There are some places in the city where you can get the stuff Emart doesn't carry.

    Also, you might try find a Crohn's specialist early on. Yonsei's Severance hospital charges more for foreign patients, but you can talk to a GP in English. You might find the best Crohn's doc would be somewhere else, though. It's worth asking your current doctor to hook you up with someone, there might be a well-known expert here. (Because trying to find someone at the last minute when you really need it can be hard.)

  3. Hi,
    Thanks for those tips on the hospital choices. I know I will like to make sure I find the right one when I am there and not pay too much than I should. My condition isn't severe so I can eat most things. I will try to not eat spicy stuff most of the time just to keep a balance.

    Yea Dave's ESL can be negative but also provide some resources that are useful. I guess it is all how you approach it.

    Right now I am just going to take it all one step at a time and when I am there try to figure out the Doctor thing better. Maybe going to a University hospital would work better. Ah we will see!


  4. No problem!

    I'll add that not all university hospitals are equal. I know someone who went to the Uni hospital affiliated with our workplace, and got such inept treatment that she ended up taking a LOT longer to recover from a condition that was in fact quite serious. A lot of this has to do with serious organizational problems in hospital administration (and the ubiquitous hierarchization of all work; my fiancée is a doctor here, and she can go on for hours about that).

    There are a few hospitals where treatment is much superior to the standard or average that most Koreans are generally willing to tolerate.

    If it's reassuring, she agrees Yonsei's the best place to try. And not to scare you, but she said, "But... why is she moving to Korea? She must know stress is bad for Crohn's!"

    (ie. Her impression is living in Seoul is very stressful in itself, more than living in North America. *shrug* Your mileage may vary, but I think it's a widespread experience... and the reason so many rant at Dave's is partly that itself. Personally, I almost never go there. Hell, even the comment threads at Marmot's aggravate me!)

  5. Hi,
    That is great to hear that Yonsei's is a recommended hospital. Let me first tell you that when I became very ill with my disease last year I did not have health insurance and so had to go through San Francisco's General Hospital. Which is a disaster in organization and hospitality. But the Doctors are good. I still have not had insurance and been using the kind of welfare insurace the county supplies. So I actually think moving to Korea and getting National Health Insurance is a better deal than what I got here.

    It is true moving and entering a new environment can be stressful and hard to endure. But the thing is that I am in good health now with my disease and see that this time would be the right time to make this move. I can't say whether I will stress out or not, I know it is inevitble. But I am confident that I will remind myself to take it easy and get the rest I need. Thank you for both of your concern. The way I feel about it is that I am going to stress out in life, it is normal...right? So for me I would rather go through life's normal infrequencies but in a more interesting place like Korea.

    I haven't really blogged about having my disease and how it will impact my future in Korea..but now that I think about would make a great topic! :)

    Bo Kwan and I aren't married. But I am looking forward to his help when I am in Korea with visiting the hospital and such.


  6. Heh... Maybe I shouldn't mention that the current President is kind of seeking to Americanize the health care insurance system, huh? Supposed to happen next year. Disaster awaits. :/

    Some people take to Korea, others don't. There's no knowing till you're here, but your positive attitude may be a help, and Bo Kwan may also be a big help.

    I'd be interested in hearing about major moves with a condition like Crohn's. My personal impression is that the alternatives to Korean food (which is often salty, and either spicy, or meaty, or both) are more available in Seoul, and healthy alternatives are much more so... in the countryside, you've much less in the way of options.

    As for stress... well, I'll be honest. I was having a bad go of things around the time I moved here and some friends suggested I wasn't really in any condition to move abroad. Others said, "Go for it, you need a change." The latter group was right, but over the years, I've come to find Korea very stressful. Learning the language somewhat helped to a point, and then it started to be a negative, as I could understand some of the dumber, or more bigoted, stuff people were saying to or about me. My neighborhood is not a big help. Being treated rudely regularly, and shouted at (or even almost assaulted) on a semi-regular basis is not good for one's nerves... or one's opinion of a place. But many people never experience that. I hadn't till I moved to my current neighborhood.

  7. Hi,
    Hmmm well I will need to keep a close eye on the health insurance situation then. Maybe eventually I can buy my own health insurance. Anyways I guess we both will have to wait and see what my life will be like there in Seoul. As for food plan is to take it as it comes along. I have noticed the best way to test what is good for me is to eat something and if it disagrees with me I don't eat it again.

    THere are people in Korea with my disease because I have spoken to Doctors in Seoul who say they study the disease. By the way mine is very mild and borderling with ulcerative colitis.

    I am not as stressed too because I have coming with me a large batch of pills to last me till August. So till then I can find the right doctor and figure out comfortable the prescription process.

    Anyways thanks for all your comments. I feel like writing a blog about this issue in my adventure but I am going to be driving back to San Francisco soon (3 hrs) so will have to wait.



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