This article is just a suggestion for foreigners who are coming to teach english in China as an ESL teacher. I have worked in the recruitment industry for more than three years, and we’ve been summarizing some regularities and experience during each case. I summed up the following points which might have guiding significance for you and perhaps can help you in a better way.
First, as a foreign job seeker, there are very limited ways of looking for a teaching english job. If one is not in China, the only way is distant communication via network or cellphone, which is not so convenient. Therefore, online connection is the main way to make contact with schools or recruiting agents. You could imagine how important it is to remain a smooth network. However, some foreigners are not really ready to respond to interviews in time. Some start searching something while they are travelling or having financial problem. They often lose contact when schools or agents try to schedule interviews with them or follow up about the offer or contract sent. This is not a good signal or not a right attitude. If you are not ready, you had better not start contacting Chinese schools or agents. No schools or agents like teachers who are not active to respond or who are often late for interviews. This will affect how they think of you, no matter how overqualified you are.
If you want to find a ESL job more smoothly and successfully, prompt reply is very necessary and important during the whole process. That will leave a good impression on a school or an agent, so they will be very happy to refer more jobs to you. I have to admit that foreigners have many offers once they post their resumes on a website, however, the offers sometimes are not effective. Most schools or agents can not offer you a real job before knowing about you or checking your documents. If you are attracted by some unreal offers, and stop replying to some real offers, that is a stupid decision. You will never know who could help you get the most suitable job at last. You will never know whether the school that promised to get you a work visa can get it after your arrival. I don’t suggest you to put all efforts on one school or one agent. Giving other agents a chance is giving yourself a chance.
Foreign teachers are expected to give their feedback about an offer within a week. You could decline an offer with a reason, but you should not keep silent. Since you have spent a lot of time scheduling the interview and discussing contract details with the school or the agent, you should pay more attention and tell them your concern and try to make things work. This is one important attitude for searching ESL jobs in China.
Another thing is cooperating with agents, so they could provide more options. Now almost all schools request a presentation video if they are from non-native English speaking countries. They usually decide after they think they are okay with the accent, this avoids unnecessary troubles. Schools don’t want to refuse a teacher with the reason of one’s bad accent, this is embarrassing. When agents ask for the video, it’s because schools want it. Therefore, providing enough documents is also very important, this can create more possibilities.
Besides, plenty of foreigners are not clear about Chinese visa policy. Agents are usually happy to explain those things if they know. However, not all foreigners believe what they say. Some just trust what their friends have experienced or heard. Your friends’ cases are just some examples, it might be true for them, but their cases probably don’t fit with yours. Because visa policy could change often, and it changes depending on a specific city and other factors. Agents recommend foreign teachers to all cities in China, so they know better about the overall situation and also about a specific city. They have the experience with helping foreign teachers from different countries get visas. Agents don’t have any reason to lie to you. If they can not satisfy you when you arrive in China, they will not be paid. What they hope is getting you a job you like and they get commission. Better to trust agents about visa things, because they deal with schools every day and know visa things more clearly. Foreigners always know the policy from the agents and maybe schools.
What’s more, schools and agents have group chat to reveal unreliable foreigners. Suppose they don’t have a right attitude or even cheat schools, I believe they will be exposed to all schools and agents in that group. Therefore, you will be put in a difficult situation. Sometimes a foreigner that has a very unreasonable salary request or other bad comments from some agents will also be refused by most schools. Agents often exchange ideas about those job seekers so as to avoid some unnecessary troubles and introduce real well-qualified foreign teachers to schools. Dishonest schools will be exposed as well.
In conclusion, and in my opinion, the right attitude towards looking for an ESL job is being proactive, punctual, and patient! You will find this will bring a lot of benefits!