How to spot shady recruiters: Teach in China

The ESL industry in China is huge and it’s growing every day. Schools are always on the  look out for  new teachers.Most schools don’t have the time or resources to look for teachers. They turn to recruiters to help them with their hiring needs. Some of these recruiters are helpful and have your best interests at heart  but most just see you as a cash cow. And they will use any trick in the book to convince you to come to China.

Below are some of the red flags to look out for when working with recruiters. These are my observations, you don't have to agree


Bait Job Ads

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Some recruiters tend to post job adverts that claim to pay very high salaries. Most of these are nothing but a bait. These salaries never materialize. If you go to popular ESL sites like Dave's Esl Cafe you will come across many of these.  However when you follow up, the story changes. So be wary of job posts that claim to offer higher than average salaries. Or "no degree, no problem".

The tourist visa debacle

After promising a salary you can’t refuse, the recruiter pressurizes you to come to China as soon as possible. They spin you a story about the school needing a teacher as soon as possible. Therefore the Z visa process will take a while. You hurry and take the next flight to China. However, when you get to China things change: the agreed salary is no longer feasible. Other scenarios are that you can’t get the promised Z visa sponsorship, making you illegal. Some people have managed to do a visa run and got the Z visa. In my opinion this is not advisable, a lot of things could go wrong. If a school wants you, they will be patient and wait for you to apply for your visa. After all it’s not your problem they didn’t find a teacher in time.


Signing with an agency

As a former victim I would advise you to never sign directly with a recruitment agency or education group. When you sign directly with an agency, they take a huge chunk of your salary every month. Some education groups will provide all the necessary paperwork and place you at a great school but they will pay lower salaries because they take a huge cut.My first time in China, I signed with an agency. I take some responsibility, I should have done thorough research. I arrived at my assigned school in Hefei. It was a great school and I enjoyed my time there. Guess what? The school was shocked to see the contract I and other teachers signed with the agency. The agency was taking half of our salaries every month. Yes, you heard right. We were earning peanuts while this company was making money off our backs. So as a recruiter, I would advise you to never sign with the agency but with the school you will be working for.

Don’t take my word for it

I can’t stress this enough. Never take a recruiter’s word as the gospel truth. Do your research. Go out there and find information about the school. If it’s a chain of schools, bear in mind that each branch is different. And has its own management. Also there’s no need to be put off by one or two bad reviews. If the reviews are consistent and there’s a pattern, then be worried. Research about your city, location is also very important. China is huge and each city is different. Ask as many questions as possible. You are uprooting your life here and moving half way around the world. Arm yourself with information!

Try to use these points to filter the bad apples and you’ll come right. Lastly, there are still recruiters out there who care and are passionate about their jobs. You know, like me. Yes, I’m blowing my own horn. My aim is to make the process as less turbulent as possible.

Good luck with the job hunting!