Recruiter scams

This week I came across another story about a South African getting a bit screwed over by SA-based recruiters. Unfortunately, this is far from being an isolated incident. I have heard about this far too often, and almost fell for it myself.

It usually goes something like this: A South African, keen to explore the world, decides to head to Korea. He (or she, though I’ll stick to “he” here for convenience) starts doing some research and hears all the horror stories about Korean-based recruiters, or is totally unsure about how to get started on what is quite a complicated process for the uninitiated. So he hears about some South African-based recruiters and decides that using someone from home is much better than trying a company from the other side of the planet.

It all starts well. Documents are organised and sent, and everything seems to be going just fine. Though our hero soon hears that there is an admin fee for this service. Depending on the company he works through, this could be anything from R4,000 to R8,000. Well, this seems reasonable, considering the amount of money our hero will be making, and he doesn’t have to pay this up front. So he agrees, and everything is fantastic, until he gets to Korea and starts chatting to other foreigners about how they got here. Then realisation hits.

“So, how much did you pay your recruiter?” asks our hero, after a couple of beers.

“What? Pay a recruiter? Why would I do that?” says his fellow native speaker.

“Phngfg?” replies our hero, while trying not choke on his beer. “You mean you didn’t have to pay a recruiter to get you a job?”

His fellow native speaker slowly puts down his beer. He looks our hero with sympathetic eyes, and in soft voice says, “No. I’m afraid not. I think you might have been screwed over, mate.”

*This dialogue has been dramatised. Names have been changed to protect the individuals involved. No beer was injured in the making of this dramatisation.

The fact is that you do NOT have to pay a recruiter to get you a job in Korea. The SA-based recruiters that do charge a fee justify this by saying that they represent the teacher, and not the schools, and thus do not take any money from the schools. I don’t believe this for a minute. All the other recruiters get a hefty fee from the schools for finding teachers, and this is way easier than trying to convince teachers to pay for this service. My feeling is that the SA-based recruiters are double dipping. And they certainly don’t make their fees clear in their initial dealings with teachers. My experience with one of these companies was very frustrating in trying to find out how much the fee was, and why they were charging it. This was until I found a much more efficient Korean recruiter, who DID NOT CHARGE ME A CENT.

So the moral of the story is simple. Don’t pay any recruiters to find you a job in Korea. No matter what they tell you, you don’t need to! You can get as good, and often better, service and advice from other recruiters who don’t charge anything. Or better yet, you can get jobs at public schools DIRECTLY through the government education departments.

If you want to read more, take a look at my Recruiters page.


3 responses to “Recruiter scams

  1. You make some very good points TB. I would go strongly endorse your last suggestion. People thinking about coming to Korea should avoid ANY recruiter at all cost, whether South African, Canadian or Korean( I am speaking here about public school positions, which yo my mine are the only ones you should consider) . There are two reasons for this. Firstly, if you work directly with a government department the risk of being screwed is drastically reduced. The channels of communication are shortened as you are speaking directly to the big kahunas. The second reason is that recruiters, even if they are honest and professional, are only assigned a portion of the potential jobs available. So you might be working with a great recruiter, but they might not have the best jobs to offer you. The fact is that there is a massive shortage of native speaking teachers in Korea, you can thus afford to be fussy. Get in touch with a government department, see the recruiters section of this site, and hold out for the ideal job. That would be my advice.

  2. Yes, you definitely cut out the middle man when you go directly through the government education departments. I considered this myself before I came here, but I had some very specific requirements about where I wanted to go, and I wanted to make sure my wife and I weren’t placed too far apart. Also, I really wasn’t sure about the process, and I thought that I’d rather deal with a recruiter, who is more likely to answer my questions and help me on a personal level than some government employee bombarded with hundreds of applications. In the end I was happy to use my Korean recruiter, and she is always around if I need some help. Though I’m sure I would have been fine working directly through GEPIK, I liked having the extra help, especially since I didn’t have to pay for it!

  3. I just found out that another friend of mine has been having trouble in China. She paid a recruitment agency in SA to send her to Beijing, and apparently it has been a bit of a disaster, with dodgy accommodation and unethical business practices. I’m starting to wonder if South Africans are being targeted by dodgy recruiters…

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