Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Uni Jobs in Korea: It's a game of chicken

Uni Jobs in Korea: it's a game of Chicken

A few days ago, I wrote about possible reasons why you might not be able to get a university job in South Korea in response to a negative review over on Amazon for the book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams, asking the reviewer to respond with specific details about his situation so I could possibly help him. His reason had nothing to do with anything that I talked about! Ha!

He did respond with a long email, which I won't post here but the gist of it is that he had already signed a housing deposit, was supporting a wife and needed to take a job offer quickly, so he ended up working in a public school.

My response: think of getting a uni job in Korea as a game of chicken. As I mention in the book, almost everything in Korea happens last minute- the "bali-bali" syndrome. This means that schools will be interviewing and making hiring decisions alarmingly close to the start of the semester. If you're the type who likes to have things locked down early (or in your case-you signed a housing deposit so were tied to a certain physical location), then you'll probably hate it and end up taking an inferior job such as at a public school or hagwon. It's the "safe" option but doesn't really help you get that sweet uni job.

In both my rounds applying for uni jobs, I got interviews and job offers astoundingly late, more than I would have ever thought possible and even for some of the top jobs in the country. As I mention in the book, the top candidates turn down job offers and then it's on to the next tier of candidates and on and on it goes.

Where, if you play the game of chicken well, and wait, and wait, and wait until the last possible minute for some good job offers, you'll likely get something if you meet the basic qualifications (a masters + a couple years teaching experience in Korea). However, you might end up with nothing and totally regret not taking those inferior job offers that you had. It's kind of a crap-shoot, however you can improve your chances at winning by following some of my advice:

1. Try to avoid something like signing a housing deposit until you have a job locked down. This means you are free to move easily if you get a great offer in another city.

2. Emergency fund. Get one. If you lose at the game of chicken, then you'll have a bit of a buffer.

3. Always have a back-up plan. It's great to have plenty of options so apply for any and all jobs in case your first few choices fall through.

4. It's all about being in the right place at the right time and who you know. So, make networking with uni teachers a huge priority in your life and you'll hear about those last-minute job opportunities (there is basically one at my own uni every single semester!).

5. Join this Facebook group: Foreign Teachers in Korean Universities. Just this semester, there were a couple posts with last-minute offers.

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