Job searches suck for the same reason that some people hate being single. It’s a lot of effort with no guaranteed results and a better-than-average chance of destroying your self-esteem. You gotta spiff up your resumé — always uplifting — read through hundreds of listings, write original cover letters, hope you actually get called back and — depending on the job and how badly you need a paycheck — feign enthusiasm during your interview.
Of course, you’re lucky if you even get called back. After a couple weeks with nothing to show for your efforts, this routine can decrease one’s sense of self worth — or increase one’s sense of self loathing.
When you finally get an offer, you’re so desperate to end this cycle of rejection that you quickly settle for yet another job that will probably fail to fulfill your personal needs and ambitions but successfully reinforces what you took away from your college readings of Marx and Gramsci.
For me, though, the job-search blues are a thing of the past. I am an ESL teacher in Korea and I’ve never felt more important.
Not to have a big head about it, but I am a pretty desirable candidate for most hagwon jobs. In Korea, white privilege benefits even more than it has in the US. But besides being white and green-eyed, I possess a Master’s degree and have a year of experience living and working in a hagwon. This makes me:
a) Marketable to parents who want their children taught by Americans who value education
b) Less of a gamble for the hagwon owners
The first one is marketing but the second one is smart spending. Foreign teachers are the highest paid employees with the best benefits, but we’re also high-risk employees. Why take a chance on some foreigner who’s never been to Korea and has a legit chance of quitting mid-contract because he/she doesn’t like the food or know how to get along in Korean culture? It’s much safer to roll with someone who’s already completed a yearlong contract.
The result for me has been same-day responses from recruiting companies and hagwons. I’ve gotten so many replies that I lost track of who I’d been in touch with and the details of each job. I’ve even gotten calls and emails from recruiters who I’ve never contacted. Now I know what it’s like to be a large-breasted female on MySpace.
The downside is that job interviews have monopolized most of my free time. The upside is that I’ve been offered a position on upwards of 90 percent of them, usually the same day of the interview.
With most of them I’m glad I didn’t accept. Online communities like theyeogiyo.com and Dave’s ESL Cafe were helpful places to get information about the companies and branch offices I applied to. After learning about their reputations or specific instances of employee abuse, I declined interviews with several potential employers. Other jobs were previously held by friends and acquaintances I’ve met here in Bundang. Two jobs that seemed really promising during the interview looked a lot different after getting an insider’s perspective.
As of this posting, I seem to have a good gig lined up, teaching at a kindergarten in Jukjeon. Now I’m just waiting to hear back about getting a furnished apartment. Between that and my salary demands, they may decide I’m too expensive. Stay tuned.