Should I use a Recruiter? Aren’t some recruiters crooks? Satan even?
Not such a tough issue. I used one for my first job. And this was back when some recruiters charged as much as US$500 for placement. (pre-Internet they could get away with that!) Even though I had been in the Peace Corps, I was not an EFL teacher in the PC, I still had no idea where to start. So, I used one and it worked out.
Was my first placement problem free? Hell no! I lived in eight places in the first eight-nine months (from literally a closet to a shared apartment, to finally a nice new apartment). My first school got out of the TEFL business and left me essentially unemployed in a strange land. But, my recruiter handled it all and actually got me upgraded to a college job. All of a sudden I went from one week of vacation per year to four months paid vacation! Wow!
Was I Lucky?
Yes and no. I was patient and dealt with my recruiter in a reasonable way. I asked for their assistance. I didn’t demand it, swear at them, call them crooks and criminals, or demand an investigation! Many others did react in such ways when confronted with similar problems. Because I was reasonable and behaved in a culturally appropriate way, my recruiter tried hard to solve my problems and in the end did a great job of upgrading my situation to be even better than I could have hoped for!
Western Assertiveness – (this IS important!)
Western assertiveness can be your greatest downfall.
Other cultures deal with problems in different ways. Try to learn the most appropriate way to get things done – to get the things done that you want done. I always knew what I wanted, what I needed, but I used their cultural behavior to get it done. Overassertive behavior would not have worked. I got what I wanted, many others didn’t. I don’t care who is right or who is wrong. I just want done what I need to have done. Period. Follow the cultural rules. They work.
What did I say for getting things done even when it wasn’t my fault and I knew someone was jacking me around? “I’m sorry I am such a problem – can you help me with this?” Another one that works well is, “What would you do if you had this problem?” Swallow your pride. Life overseas is more like a fun cultural game. Learn how to play it so YOU win. It is fun and challenging to figure out.
The “What would you do if you had this problem?” question got me a driver’s license in Taiwan, only seconds after the same clerk told me it was impossible as my USA license had expired a few days before.
I asked her the question – she stamped the forms – and gave me my license! Getting angry and assertive would not have worked. She was right, she was following the law and had every right to refuse my request. But because I politely and respectfully asked for her help and advice, she gave me a license. Pretty good deal, no?
Recruiter or Not?
Up to you. BUT, check out the employer just as you would if you found the job yourself. Because a recruiter finds you a job, does not mean you have to take it! Check out every angle. KNOW that YOU are the person responsible for your success or failure in your life overseas (or anywhere for that matter) – don’t cede that responsibility to anyone else. Check and double check everything. A recruiter is just one more resource to help you get what you want.
Would I use a recruiter again?
Sure, if I thought it would help me find what I wanted. Do most people overseas agree with me? Probably not. But why not take every advantage you can to improve your situation? While some recruiters may only want to place you to get their fee from the school, if they find a job you would not have otherwise found and if it is what you want – why not?
Do be careful, don’t send your originals of ANYTHING to ANYONE – except an embassy or immigration.
The #1 Problem with Recruiters?
The biggest problem is that people forget to check things that they would ordinarily have checked when finding a job on their own. DON’T DEFAULT responsibility to your recruiter.
Ultimately EVERYTHING that happens to you abroad – Success OR Failure – is up to YOU.
Yes, that’s YOU.
Now get with it and ASK all the questions you need to ask.
The better recruiters WILL be there to help you if you have problems and that is one big advantage to using one in a country that you are not familiar with.