Interview with Shane Bennett, Travel and Teach Recruiting

Recruitment agencies play an important role in the teacher hiring process in certain TEFL regions such as South Korea. In this article we ask some questions about the recruitment process to Shane Bennett who is Founder and Director of one of the more experienced recruitment agencies placing teachers in South Korea, Travel and Teach Recruiting.

How and why did you start Travel and Teach Recruiting?

Travel & Teach Recruiting Inc. was established in 2001 after I had begun teaching in Korea. The original purpose for Travel & Teach was to find teaching positions in Korea for my friends from back home who were looking for the same experience that I was going through at the time. Before I knew it, I had placed more than 20 friends – and friends of friends – in teaching positions across the country.

Things snowballed from that point which is when Travel & Teach started running as a proper recruiting agency. We have placed thousands of English teachers in teaching positions since that time.

Why do you think Korea is such a popular choice for English teachers?

Prior to the breakout of the ‘Korean Wave’, where Korean dramas, movies and especially music (K-pop) gained international popularity, teaching in Korea was – and still is – the country where one with no teaching experience can make the most money teaching English. The only requirements are a Bachelor’s degree, a clean bill of health and a clean criminal background.

Korea was – and still is – the country where one with no teaching experience can make the most money teaching English

What sets you apart from other recruitment agencies?

Since 2001 our service has been free for our teachers, and that has not changed. Many agencies charge over $1000 for what we do for free.

Being English teachers ourselves in Korea, we know that it is a big step and we are there to support and help any way we can to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Even though we deal with thousands of teachers a year, we pride ourselves on giving each and every teacher the proper amount of attention and care instead of treating them as numbers. This is how we  have always set ourselves apart from other agencies.

What have been the biggest changes in the industry over the last ten years?

The biggest change has been in the screening of teachers who are entering Korea on a teaching visa. 10 years ago, all that was needed was a copy of one’s degree and transcripts. These days, a criminal background check is required; anything that shows up on this check, including a driving infraction, will prevent you from getting a visa. The same is true, should you have any history of anxiety or depression.

Another notable change is the ways the private schools are run now in comparison to 10 years ago.  Teachers were not treated as well at that time as there were essentially no repercussions; these days there are, which has weeded out most of the poorly managed schools

As a recruiter, how do you help teachers with their teaching journey? What’s the toughest part about your role?

From the time a teacher applies until they complete their contract in Korea, we are there to help with visa documents, support and to answer any questions that come up along the way. We help from start to finish and, unlike other companies, we do not charge any fees for our service as we receive a commission from our schools in Korea.

The toughest part of our job is to convince people to trust us enough that they will take our advice, namely on the city in which they find placement. There is too much information on the internet these days, which makes people wary of who to trust. While that is understandable, we tend to believe we know what is best because we have both the teaching experience in Korea and many years of dealing with schools there.

You can listen to Teacher testimonies about their experience with Travel & Teach on their website

What does a standard contract for a new teacher look like in 2019 (salary, work hours, vacation etc)?

For the standard teaching contract, teachers are looking at 2.1 million won/per month with around 30 teaching hours a week. This comes with a free apartment, plane tickets, a one month bonus at the end of the contract and national pension contributions.

We have many schools who pay a lot higher for certified teachers or those with teaching experience.

What attributes are schools and academies looking for in a teacher? Any interview tips for teachers?

Personality and enthusiasm are always at the top of the list. Be engaging, bubbly and enthusiastic. Talk about relevant teaching experience or experience with children and be sure to ask a lot of questions – but not about pay!

Be engaging, bubbly and enthusiastic

Finally, how do you see the TEFL industry in Korea changing in the next 5 years?

I think that the EPIK program will continue to get worse as the program is now run almost primarily by government employees. Graduates looking to teach in Korea will become more and more aware of these issues and opt for private schools instead. You can read more about this in this blog post here:

Need help finding the right teaching job in Korea? Contact Travel & Teach Recruiting today for free help!

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