ESL Recruiting Agencies

Recruiting Agencies, also referred to as Teacher Placement Agencies or Employment Agencies, are commonly used in the ESL teaching industry where employers and job seekers may be remotely located. Unable to meet job candidates in person, schools rely on recruiters to screen potential teachers through face-to-face interviews. Likewise, teachers rely on recruiters to help secure legitimate contracts and fair compensation from employers whose nationality and culture are often foreign. Recruiters also help to fill the language gap between teachers and school administrators.

Agencies recruit various levels of candidates, ranging from recent graduates with little or no experience, to those who have taught abroad for six or more years. While experienced teachers may find employment success without recruiters, many enjoy the benefits recruiters provide and continue to utilize them throughout their career. Similar to literary, talent, or real estate agents, recruiting agents specialize in the legal aspects of the industry. However, unlike these other types of agents, a recruiter does not hold back a portion of a teacher's salary. A professional recruiting agency charges the school a fee, not the teacher.

TEFL.net has gathered some answers to the most common questions teachers ask about recruiting agencies:

Why do some schools outsource recruiting?

The main reason why schools hire recruiters is because they want to maintain a low rate of teacher turnover. Recruiters do their best to keep their clients happy. They develop systematic methods for matching candidates to job postings, and make every effort to weed out applicants whose primary goal is to travel rather than teach.

Recruiters that support teachers throughout their posting can often guarantee lower turnover rates. It is very expensive for schools to hire new teachers. Expenses related to training, travel, documentation, and accommodations add up quickly, especially for schools that require a large faculty year round. Recruiters not only save schools time and money, they also reduce the need for bilingual HR workers.

What can I expect at a screening interview?

In the initial screening stages, a recruiting agency works for its established clientele. The agency's goal is to ensure that all job candidates are qualified, capable, and enthusiastic about teaching abroad. In many cases, recruiters look for teachers who demonstrate an ability to transfer skills from one teaching environment to another. They also look at education and work experience to determine whether or not applicants possess the skills and abilities to take on the challenges ahead.

Making a good match between the employer and employee is integral to the reputation and continued success of the recruiting agency. Recruiters need to be able to pair up the skills and experience of candidates with the specific needs of the schools. Successful matchmaking takes into account several factors including:

  • educational requirements
  • teaching experience
  • teacher personality
  • teacher interests
  • desired teaching location
  • level and demographic of students
TEFL.net Tip
While a recruiting agency may conduct the screening interview, a staff member of the school often conducts a second interview over the phone.

What services does a recruiting agency provide for teachers?

A good recruiter provides long-term support for teachers from the initial stages of a job search to the end of a work contract. These agencies are especially useful for teachers who are starting out and have no experience teaching overseas. They do a lot of the work for teachers, such as grouping contracts into part-time, full-time, temporary and long-term work, and separating placements that offer incentives such as free airfare and housing from those that do not. While it is important for teachers to play an active role in their job search, venturing into the unknown is a stressful experience. Recruiters help ease this time, preventing teachers from giving up their goals and dreams out of mere frustration. Here are a few of the services that many recruiters provide for teachers free of charge:

  • share knowledge and resources related to life and work in a variety of foreign countries (i.e. info on medical insurance, vaccinations, tax laws)
  • offer guidance and support in obtaining appropriate documentation for working and living in a foreign country (i.e. visa assistance)
  • screen employers to make sure they are legitimate
  • gather all application requirements
  • submit CV's to schools on teacher's behalf
  • provide regular updates of job openings (often sending these to teachers through e-mail)
  • offer airport pick up upon arrival
  • provide housing assistance (including temporary housing until accommodations are secured)
  • provide transportation assistance
  • academic support (i.e. lesson plans)
  • provide social support and networking during the contract

What makes a recruiting agency legitimate?

A legitimate recruiting or employment agency is a licensed company that deals directly with the schools, and does not require third parties to do their business. Recruiters that commonly work with regional school districts and large school chains, such as GEOS or Inlingua, are generally more trustworthy than those that have only a few small clients. Look for a company with a professional looking website and experienced English-speaking staff that have experience of teaching in the countries you are considering. Be wary of any hidden charges, such as a company that offers their services for a small portion of your salary.

A legitimate agency should be able to answer these questions about a job posting or contract:

  • exact location
  • job category (i.e. full time, part-time, mat leave)
  • teacher qualifications required (e.g. experience, certification)
  • student demographic
  • information about the school (public, private, how long it has been operating, size)
  • start date
  • salary
  • total weekly hours
  • teaching hours
  • work days
  • type of housing (if provided)
  • whether airfare is provided
  • whether there is a bonus
  • whether full or partial insurance is provided
  • vacation time
  • terms in case of an emergency or illness
TEFL.net Tip
Legitimate employment agencies have a good reputation with other teachers and schools. Do your research by visiting message boards and seeking out teacher testimonials.

How can I detect an ESL job scam?

Internet scams are common in the ESL industry. In many cases, individuals pose as schools or recruiters in order to steal your identity and/or your money.

You should never feel pressured to send your personal information (for example a copy of passport, birth certificate, driver's license). Schools and recruiters need to see your resume, but should not ask for copies of your personal data, especially through the internet. Any recruiter or school that requests money from you should not be trusted.

Legitimate recruiters charge schools, not teachers, and do not have any hidden charges. Never sign a contract with a recruiter that offers to take a small percentage of your salary. Scam artists sometimes succeed in both avenues, by convincing teachers that they need to send money and personal documents to pay for a work visa or permit.

If a job posting or offer seems too perfect, it could be a scam. Compare the salary, bonus, and accommodations offered by other schools in surrounding areas. If one stands out from the others, ask for a second opinion from a reputable recruiter.

TEFL.net Tip
If you suspect a scam, enter the name of the school or recruiter into an online search engine. Look for any negative feedback from other teachers. Double-check by adding the terms "scam" or "fake" to your search term.