TEFL recruiters: should you use one?

Once you’ve secured your TEFL certification, it’s sometimes hard to know what the next step is.

Yes, there’s a literal world of opportunity out there. However, it’s a lot to manage on your own. There’s an awful lot to think about: where to go and teach, flights, accommodation, job interviews, knowing whether the school or company is the right one, and more.

With that in mind, the idea of a TEFL recruiter is an appealing one. Someone who can manage the stress of such a multi-faceted life change would surely help, right? Someone who can help you find the right opportunities, put you with the right people, help you out with interviews, flights, somewhere to live and all the rest?

On paper, that sounds absolutely ideal. However, it really is all about finding the right recruiter. One that is reputable and has a proven track record.

Let’s delve into the pros and cons of TEFL recruitment.

The positives of TEFL recruiters 

Let’s be clear; there’s absolutely zero shame in being overwhelmed by the amount of admin you’ll have to do in searching, applying, interviewing and moving for a TEFL job.

It’s a lot of work. What’s more, you’ve probably not long passed your TEFL course, which is no small task in itself. You want to get moving quickly, sure, but doing it all on your own would be commendable. Except, there’s nobody handing out medals!

A recruiter expedites that process. If you find a good TEFL recruiter, they’ll get your name out to great schools and employers. All you need to tell them is where you’d like to go.

In terms of feasibility, visa issues are often, well – an issue. Again, a good TEFL recruiter (emphasis again on “good”) will help you with that process. Believe us when we tell you what a relief that can be.

Reducing TEFL stress

Fundamentally, landing your first TEFL job can be a stressful experience. Ideally, a recruiter will help to relieve some of that administrative anxiety and make it straightforward for you to land that first job.

Often, even with tools like our TEFL Jobs Centre, it can be hard to know where to look. Which country is right for you? Salary expectations, the kind of climate you prefer, the type of school, class size – these are all things to consider. Having someone talk you through it and explore your options with you is a benefit.

A woman smiling

Reputation is everything

A recruiter with a good reputation can be a real benefit. If you’re able to find a TEFL recruiter that is established in the industry, has some excellent links to high-performing schools and institutions and a genuinely favourable reputation, being associated with them can really help.

Employers, in theory, can look kindly upon applicants who are recommended by top recruitment agencies. It’ll show a prospective employer that, for one thing, you care about the reputation of who you link yourself to. Also, if the recruiter is known for showcasing high-quality applicants, and that includes you, then all the better.

Thinking ahead in your TEFL career

Building a good CV really is paramount. It might be that you have an excellent career record prior to your TEFL certification, and you’ve done volunteering or online work to improve your curriculum vitae. However, specific employers want particular things, and nobody will know that better than a recruiter. 

Long-term, establishing a link with a recruiter, and getting that CV advice, can help to establish a long and exciting career in TEFL. If you want the challenge of working across continents during your career, being in with a top recruiter who can provide opportunities worldwide is a major bonus. Getting references from employers, as well as the TEFL recruiter, will help you land the jobs you want.

TEFL Recruiters: The draw-backs

As with everything, there are a few things to consider.

If you have the confidence and are able to sniff out a genuine opportunity from a more suspect one, then you might not need a recruiter. Similarly, if you have experience in CV building or career management, or have people around you with those skills, a recruiter might not be of huge benefit.

Researching a TEFL recruiter

Similarly, as is the case with jobs, due diligence is required for recruiters. Finding the most reputable can be an undertaking; do you have time for all that? Unfortunately, there are recruiters out there who aren’t all that interested in finding you the right opportunity and only care about getting their commission. 

Unless you’re able to verify the experience and skills of a TEFL recruiter, it can be a bit of a risk. 

Just as finding a good recruiter can help build a reputation, the opposite can be true. Aligning yourself with a shady TEFL recruiter could see your opportunities dwindle. Employers don’t have a great deal of time to sift through applications; if they’re being recommended someone from a recruiter they have no time for, they just won’t read your application.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that not all employers will deal with recruiters and will only accept direct applications.

A man interviewing another man

TEFL Recruiter scams

Be wary of hidden costs and potential scams. Reputable TEFL recruiters will not charge teachers directly as they get their commission from the employer.

Scam recruiters are, unfortunately, a real thing. Given the legwork required to make your CV pristine and showcase your TEFL certification, falling in with a false recruiter can really set you back, either monetarily or in terms of time wasted.

It’s all about you

Finally, it’s an experience that’s meant to be tailored to you. Working with a recruiter might mean you’re encouraged to go for an opportunity even if it doesn’t feel like a great fit. Recruiters will get a commission from schools or institutions that they find applicants for, but is it right for what you want and expect from your TEFL career?

TEFL Recruiters: A Personal Choice

Ultimately, there are major pros and cons either way. There are some excellent recruiters who help out in countries where demand for teachers is particularly high.

Again, though, it’s a personal choice to make. It might be that you have particular ideas about where you want to teach, you’re familiar with the nation and the job market, and you have the TEFL certificate and application ready to go. You might not need help along the way.

For newbies, though, it can be daunting landing that first job and the support of a recruiter can be of great help

Think of your own experience, and whether or not recruitment agencies have helped you out in the past. Consider also the list of tasks needed to set yourself up overseas, not just with a job, but with everything else.

It’s okay to need a bit of help, but it’s just as good to forge your own path. The choice is yours.

Interested in teaching abroad opportunities with a lot of support? Check out our teaching placements in South Korea and Vietnam!

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