Before you even attempt to pound the online job classifieds for teaching English in Korea, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
Can I adjust to a different culture, people, and customs?
Do I enjoy working with children? Am I a flexible person?
Are you interested in Korean culture? What do you know about Korea?
These are some key questions you need to sort out before you even look for a job. Many people arrive in Korea and follow the stages of "culture shock" and eventually start being negative towards Korea. The key here, the big secret is that you need to learn to accept Korea for what it is, and not make comparisons to your country back home. Sure, there are times when you need to vent, but if you can maintain a positive attitude that is open and flexible, you will enjoy your trip to Korea that much more.
Okay, with that being said, I'm going to list the steps I would take if I was to look for a job right now! I told you this would be brief, so if anyone has some more pointers and tips they would like to add, feel free to leave a comment!
1. Research the job market - visit the Korea job listings on Dave's ESL Cafe. Examine the job postings and make yourself a spreadsheet detailing the location, salary, and hours of jobs you are interested in. Do some research on Korea's geography. Where do you want to live? In the heart of the country (Seoul!) or down south near the ocean (Busan!)? I would try to find 10 job offers, then try to slowly eliminate the ones you don't want as you find out more about each school or location. Typically, jobs farther away from Seoul pay more. However, it's up to you to decide about where you want to live and teach.
2. Once you've limited your choices down to 5 schools or so, apply to all of them. You should have a polished resume and cover letter, along with a nice digital photo of yourself. Don't ask me why, but most companies want to see pictures of their teachers before hiring them. Ensure that your photo doesn't have any visible food showing in your teeth.
3. Dave's ESL Cafe: Korea Job Forums - This is where you will do more research on finding out about your school and the area you would possible live in. First things first, register for the forums (this will take a couple days) so you can message other members. I shall give you a warning about the Korea forums on Dave's ESL Cafe...this is an arena where many people voice their frustrations with living and teaching in Korea.
There can be an air of negativity that can ruin your image of Korea--IGNORE it and move along. I can't stress this enough...don't get jaded by the few complainers out there. Take everything you read with a grain of salt. There are rotten apples in every bunch, so the big whiners out there should just hop on a plane and fly home! Nobody is forcing them to teach or live in Korea!
Here you should be using the SEARCH function to find out more about the area and even about the name of your particular school.
4. Hopefully you will get a job offer, and when you do, hit up the forums on Dave's to find out more. Use the SEARCH function once again and if you find nothing, start a new thread asking for more information about your school (this is where the registration comes in handy). Better yet, take advantage of Google and start digging for more info about the area and school. Find Korea blogs with teachers living in the area and politely email them to find out more.
5. Negotiate with your employer - your salary can be negotiable depending on your education and teaching experience. Talk about salary, accommodation, and anything else on your mind. I mentioned we were able to get a queen size bed instead of a double and we also got flights out of Victoria instead of Vancouver. Will they pick you up at the airport? Will you work overtime (don't do it, unless you want more money!)? There's no harm in asking!
Also, ask for teacher references of teachers currently at the school. Ask for an email address and email the teachers to find out more info. This is a vital step and can come in handy.
6. Research, research, research - continue to find out more information about the area and school. Use Google Earth to try and locate where you will be living. Some of my readers have done this to ensure that the location they will be is relatively close to a Costco (you know who you are). So doing your homework will pay off.
Here are some good resources on teaching in Korea...read through them to learn more:
- My own teaching English in Korea FAQ
- A few of my readers have mentioned that this ESL Job Finder has come in handy for finding other jobs overseas, other than Korea
- Teaching English in Korea - Foreign Affairs Canada: this is a great read for everyone, even if you're not Canadian. Lots of information here.
- Outside in Korea has a couple good articles on 44 tips on getting a job and the skinny on teaching in Korea.
What? This sounds like too much work? Well, if that's the case maybe teaching in Korea might not be for you. However, there are FREE recruiters out there that will do the work for you! One such company is Flying Cows Consulting based in the UK. Check them out for finding your perfect job in Korea.
I will probably post a follow up to this (if I remember) about preparing yourself for Korea--if you've recently landed a job, check out my post about things to pack for Korea if you haven't already!
Update, Jan.5/2008: New E-2 Visa Rules