Archive for November, 2012

Lantau-China. Buddha.


This blog will be about positivity. That is the promise I’ve made to myself. I realize I ranted and spewed venom in my last post. I have had to take a step back in my judgement of recruiters. In the four to five months that I’ve been dealing with recruiters, I have experienced the entire spectrum as far as quality services. But before I get into my experiences since my last posting, let me give a quick update as far as my status. I am still waiting on my FBI background check. Hopefully, I will have an idea of where it stands after the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s it. Once I get it back and apostilled, I will be qualified to teach English as a Secondary language at most schools worldwide. Now that the housekeeping has been done, I must talk about one really good experience with a recruiter. I would say the best experience I’ve had with a recruiter so far. I liken it to meeting a future multi-year girlfriend. You know you’re going to get caught up, but you like it for however long it lasts. STC Consortium Limited, a U.K./British recruiting agency, has been the most thorough and accommodating recruiting agency, I’ve dealt with to this point. How so? First, like most recruiters, there is a website/job board where I uploaded my CV/resume. I was contacted within a few days by email, asking for the usual picture, passport, letters of reference, etc. After sending the requisite documents, I was immediately contacted to set up a Skype interview. Actually, I just finished the interview and this blog post may be prematurely lauding services yet to be rendered. However, I have a feeling about this one. I spent about an hour speaking with, not the recruiter, but the CEO of STC Consortium.

Maybe it was her warm British accent or her motherly affectations to my questions. I don’t know what it was exactly, but it felt right. I did my usual interview spiel, why I want to teach in China, the history, culture, the food, teaching any age, blah blah blah. But it wasn’t really blah blah blah afterwards. I was told STC Consortium was given the task of recruiting up to one hundred teachers, ten were already there in country and exactly what STC’s role would be in the process of my placement as a teacher with them. I was also assured that even if I didn’t decide on a placement in China, STC would be in contact with me, as they look to expand into other countries, specifically Malaysia. I think of myself as a good judge of character and I felt good when speaking with Susan of STC. She’s a former educator. And more importantly, taught ESL in a classroom. When we ended the interview, I felt good and thought she genuinely, in my words, “gave a shit”. Every recruiter I’ve dealt with up to this point has treated me like a number. You email them and they get back to you a week later. You interview with them and have to email them to prompt further actions. These are symptoms of a recruiter with more than one client that demand their time. Hey, it is what it is. However, I’ve worked in customer service related positions and I always treated each customer like they were the only person I had spoken with during the workday. It can be done. STC Consortium, so far, has done just that. It was almost familial. She told me a STC representative based in China would contact me next week about opportunities. I feel good about this one. After breaking out my voodoo doll and needles for the last Teaching in Asia entry, I am lighting the incense and rubbing the little fat dude’s stomach on this one. It’s almost karmic. A true Happy Thanksgiving.





Question: What makes a good recruiter? The answer will vary greatly from person to person more than likely. In the next few paragraphs, I will attempt to break down my experience with a recruiting agency that has really dropped the ball in serving my interests. First, my idea of a good recruiter is a person or organization that makes the client feel like they are a priority. A little special attention to someone, who may not expect it, goes a long way. I think another good quality for recruiters is the ability to adapt and structure the working relationship to establish the client’s strengths and improve or PR spin the hell out of any perceived weaknesses. That said, in my last blog post, I mentioned I had been in contact with several recruiters and realized there was no real advantage in using one for ME. I stand by that assessment due to recent developments. I have been diligent in the “gathering” process of recruitment to teach in Asia. I decided on Korea and have been in contact with recruiters of varying levels of professionalism. Greenheart Travel, in my opinion and experience, should be avoided like the plague. As I wrote in my last blog without naming them specifically, I conducted a Skype interview with a representative of Greenheart Travel, that had never been to Korea. She asked me scripted questions and did not give me any new information. She merely regurgitated EPIK guidelines that can be easily found on the EPIK website. Then I told her my status in acquiring the necessary documents to work in Korea. I didn’t hear from Greenheart Travel for a week. No follow up. No next steps. No contact. A week later, I get an email alerting me that I would speak with an EPIK representative the preceding week. The email included possible interview questions, a link to a time conversion website and a few other useful bits of information. I responded by emailing that I would be prepared and it was great that the process was finally happening. No response from Greenheart Travel, still. However, I had a great interview with an EPIK recruiter. She discussed minor changes I needed to make with my application. Namely, she wanted me to indent the paragraphs on my essay (EPIK requires applicants to write 500-800 word essays detailing why they want to teach in Korea.) and lengthen one of my letters of recommendation. The EPIK representative asked me why did I want to be an ESL teacher and why I chose Korea instead of other countries. I as anyone with common sense would told her that I was interested in learning Korean culture, language, food and history. I ran on and on and on. She smiled and had to cut me off. She also asked me how I would handle disciplinary problems in a class of thirty. That’s just a few of the questions I was asked, as the interview was about 45 minutes long. I was also given the opportunity to ask my own questions. We concluded the interview with an overview of what changes I needed to make on the application and she lauded me for having a great tone, accent neutral speech pattern and that she personally had no trouble understanding my English. We said our goodbyes, smiled (she was beautiful by the way.) and waited for the Skype burp and black screen. Two days later, Greenheart Travel sends me an email that said:

Thank you for taking the time to apply for the Spring 2013 Teach in Korea EPIK program. Although we found you to be a very qualified and enthusiastic applicant, I regret to inform you that the Korean Ministry of Education has not selected you to move past the interview stage of the process. We have received many qualified applicants for the program, and the Korean Ministry ultimately has the final say in the selection process. It seems like the process is especially competitive this round. It is EPIK’s policy not to disclose why an applicant does not move forward, so unfortunately I was not given any further details about why your application was not accepted. If you would like to continue to pursue your interest in teaching abroad, I encourage you to take a look at our Teach Abroad programs in other countries. We also have programs in China, The Republic of Georgia, and Thailand. Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope that you choose to pursue other means of cultural exchange, traveling and working abroad! I wish you the best of luck!


So my obvious email response was: Are you serious? The ENTIRE country of Korea (the other side of the line of demarcation at least) has no available slots for a “very qualified and enthusiastic applicant”? I find that hard to believe. Especially considering I had such a great interview with the EPIK representative. I’ve interviewed for numerous jobs in my lifetime and I am pretty accurate when determining if I blew it or not. This I refuse to believe. Recent college graduates with no TESOL certification or English related degree are currently EPIK teachers. I won’t accept this. I said all of this in my response to my “rejection” email. Needless to say, I haven’t heard back from GREENHEART TRAVEL. The other way GREENHEART TRAVEL screwed me is by sending my application to EPIK as I was trying to gather better letters of recommendation. Before my Greenheart interview, I was told that one of my letters (the one the EPIK recruiter dinged me for.) needed to be longer. I was told by my recruiter (I will keep it anonymous because I’m a professional above all else, anger aside.) that she could send it, but she knew they would want something a little longer. She also told me to make my lesson plan longer. I promptly fluffed out my lesson plan which my Greenheart recruiter reviewed, assured me it was okay and told me via email to get my letter to her to ready for EPIK. Well, she decided to send it early and never contacted me. Some might say, I should have contacted her. You’re right. But who’s the recruiter? Why would you shoot a client in the foot by sending an application packet that doesn’t live up to your company’s standards? You have set me up to fail in this. This is unacceptable. I don’t know how this should play. The EPIK representative told me to make corrections and submit those corrections to my recruiter. Then I get the damning email above. So that’s it? The end of my journey? NO WAY! I’m not scratching off an entire nation after a 45 minute interview (that went well) and a recruiter who could care less about me as client. I’m not done yet. I’ve been in contact with other recruiters in the past few days. Hopefully, I can resubmit my application and get a placement in EPIK, GEPIK or a hagwon. This last experience has really opened my eyes to what can happen if you, by luck of the draw, choose the wrong recruiting agency. DO NOT USE GREENHEART TRAVEL! I can only hope no one experiences the lack of respect and professionalism shown by this agency. Hopefully, my experience is an isolated random luck of the draw incident. I hope so as I would like to do something life changing, like teaching English abroad. I hope this is not typical recruiter behavior. Prospective teachers please keep your eyes open and be careful in this process. I have been officially set back by my recruiter’s negligence and my naivety.