Let’s be real here. University jobs in Korea teaching English are some of the best in the world, which means competition is fierce. That’s why you’ll want to check out these 103 tips to get your leg up on the competition. Keep on reading!
University Jobs in South Korea: Want One?
How does 5 months of paid vacation sound to you? Pretty good, right? It’s kind of why everyone and their BFF wants a university job in South Korea. But this makes it not so easy to get this oh so sweet of jobs. However, Jackie is here to help you with 103 things you can do if you want to get that university job in South Korea. Take some action NOW. Go out there and get the job you want!
As they say in Korea, fighting!
103 Things to Do to Get a University Job in South Korea
So, you want to compete for university jobs in Korea? Then you’re going to need to pay careful attention to these things to do to get a leg up on the competition.
1. Meet the Basic Requirements for University Jobs Korea
You’ll need to get a visa to teach English from Korean immigration. This means things like having a passport from certain countries (the big 6), a minimum amount of education, etc.
If you’re not eligible for a visa, it’s doesn’t matter how well-qualified you are. You’ll find it almost impossible to get a job.
2. Get Obsessed with Finding a University Job in Korea
Those who put ridiculous amounts of time, energy and money into their job search often get rewarded. Seriously. Treat it like it’s your second full-time job (assuming you’re teaching at a hagwon or public school) and put in that amount of work. It’s most certainly worth it!
3. Learn Everything You Can about University Jobs in Korea Teaching English
The more information, the better! After all, information is power, right? Here’s a great place to start your information gathering: All about University Jobs Korea on YouTube.
4. Look Beautiful
In Korea, appearance is everything. Never forget this. What does this mean exactly? Dress for success. Get a flashy haircut and some nice makeup.
5. Look Professional
Ditch the backpack, flip-flops and instead do as the Koreans do. This means wearing your best business formal attire. That’s what the people who interview you will be wearing and you should certainly follow “suit.”
6. Hire a Professional Photographer
Don’t just throw up any old picture on your resume, but get one done by a professional. You should of course be wearing your best clothes for this and spend some time grooming yourself.
Hate the fact that you have to put a photo on the resume? Get over it. This is Korea, and when in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?
7. Ditch the Facial Hair for a University Job Korea
Clean shaven is the look you need to go for. Take a look around at the Koreans you see working at universities. How many of them have facial hair? Maybe 1 or 2 of the hundred you see? That says a lot.
8. Ditch those Piercings
Conservative is what’s required in Korea and anything besides a couple of piercings in your ear (for a woman) are not going to get you the results you want.
9. Get a Master’s Degree for Korea University Jobs
If anything, this is the basic requirement for education level. Sure, you can get a visa from the Korean government with just a BA, but it won’t get you very far in your job search for uni jobs. It mostly has to do with government funding for your position. And, also if the university gets audited, how is it going to look with a bunch of instructors who only have a BA? Not great, right?
How to get a university job in South Korea? Well, this is kind of step 1!
10. Get a Master’s Degree in TESOL, English or Education
Having one of these English related degrees will make you stand out from the pack and is basically necessary to compete for the top jobs in the big cities.
11. Don’t Give Up if you have just a BA
Only have a BA but still want a uni job? Here’s some advice for you: Uni Jobs in Korea with only a BA.
Of course, start work on your master’s degree immediately if you plan to stay in Korea for the long-term. You’ll need it to keep, and get the best jobs.
12. Get a CELTA
Universities want teachers who know how to teach. While not all recognize the value of this certificate, some do. Will the CELTA help you get a university job in South Korea?
For my second teaching job in Busan, the foreign head teacher did the initial resume screening and interviews. He was impressed that I had just completed the CELTA and I think it gave me a huge leg up on the competition.
If you want to go for a cheap and fast one just to beef up the resume and have something to talk about in interviews, consider: International TEFL and TESOL Training.It’s better than nothing, especially if your degrees are not related to TESOL or English.
13. Be in Korea for Interviews
Not many places are willing to hire from overseas via Skype interviews. In-person reigns supreme.
But, how to get there? That’s the tricky thing. I generally recommend that most people work for a year at a hagwon (teaching adults is best), or public school (aim for high school) to get their boots on the ground.
14. Get the Timing Right when Getting a Job in Korea
The semesters start in September and March and hiring happens from 1-12 weeks before that. There is most definitely last minute jobs available, so don’t give up (see below).
15. Play Chicken Well
An astounding number of universities hire very last minute, so if you can hold out until a couple of weeks before the semester starts, you may slip in there even if you are not the most qualified candidate. Welcome to Korea, land of the last minute.
I think it mostly happens because teachers have a few offers on the go. They take one and turn down the other two or three, sometimes without much notice. Where does that leave the university? Trying to hire someone (maybe you?) at the very last minutes.
16. Have the Right Passport
Canada and USA reign supreme. Everything else is a distant second, and you may not even be able to get a visa for teaching English in South Korea depending on where you’re from.
17. Look on ESL Cafe Korean Job Board
36% of teachers get their university job in Korea this way. Sure, there is a whole bunch of junk to wade through, but just use the search function and look for “uni” or “university.”
18. Use Profs Abroad
It’s a paid site, but it’ll save you a ton of time. The way it works is that they curate uni jobs for you from all the other sites. Plus, they find the rare ones that are only listed on university websites for example under some obscure menu item! If you can apply for some of those jobs, you’ll have far, far less competition.
A few people I know got jobs through this site. It’s a bit obscure, but again, there is certainly less competition for these English jobs in South Korea than ones on ESL Cafe for example.
20. Check Koreabridge
It’s how I got my university job in Busan and there are always a few local unis that place job ads on here.
Get all your questions answered and see the last minute job openings which often get posted. It’s usually a teacher at the uni trying to help their boss find someone in a hurry, so check back often for these postings.
22. Treat your Job Search Like a Full-Time Job
Looking for a university job is your new job. Get ready to be busy and be prepared to spend a ridiculous amount of time on it. Cut down on social activities and spend your lunch hour working on your job search.
23. Don’t Waste your Time Learning Korean
It’s really not necessary to speak Korean if you want to get a job teaching English in South Korea. After all, your job is speaking English, right?
However, a little bit goes a long way with both your students and Korean co-workers so know the basics. I also had the situations a few times where there were Chinese students in my classes who spoke almost no English. We had to use Korean to communicate which led to some comedic situations!
24 How to Get a Job in South Korea: Get your Paperwork in Order
Organization is key to this whole endeavour so make sure you have all the required docs and that they’re scanned and ready to go. Print off some physical copies of everything before going to an interview.
25. Make a Spreadsheet of Korean University Jobs You’ve Applied For
Again, organization is key to getting a university job in Korea. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of which places you applied to and when as well as any follow-ups.
I also like to include things like teaching hours and salary here too, just so I can keep track of which jobs are my top-tier ones and then which ones I may consider if nothing else pans out.
26. Ooze Professionalism
Don’t be that obnoxious guy out on the town because nobody will want to be your coworker and they might even go out of their way to give you a negative recommendation when they hear that you applied to their university.
27. Don’t Treat People Like a Uni Job Vending Machines
If you meet a university teacher, don’t go in for the kill too early. Treat them like a human being, you know? I’ve had this experience numerous times before and it resulted in me NOT wanting to help that person!
28. Join KOTESOL
You’ll meet teachers from just about every single university in Korea this way. Go to the local chapter meetings and conferences. If you work at a hagwon or public school, it’s one of the best ways to meet the university teachers in your city.
29. Get Involved with KOTESOL
By involved, I mean actively. There are a ton of things you can do. It’s by far the best form of networking you can do in Korea.
30. Do a KOTESOL Presentation
Teacher training looks impressive on the resume to say the least. They’ll give you a certificate at the end of it too so you can put that into your teaching portfolio. Cha-ching! Can you say impressive?!
31. Go Where University Teachers Can be Found
Board Game Clubs and book clubs will likely be far better for this than Adventure Korea trips and other similar sorts of things. Generally, university teachers in Korea have been around for years.
32. Be the Right Age for University Jobs In Korea
30 to 50 is prime time! Older or younger, it’s possible but it’s not easy. If you’re too young, Koreans think that the students won’t respect you.
And, if you’re too old, you’re getting into health problems and mandatory retirement age issues.
33. Invest Some Money Into your Job Search
Get nice photos done as well as have your documents printed on high-quality paper. It’s worth every single penny. And sure, you can often submit documents online, but it can set you apart from the competition if you mail in a nice looking package.
34. Tripel Chek your Resume and Cover Letter
Grammar/spelling mistakes = application tossed in trash. Yes, Koreans will notice even if they don’t speak English as their first language.
35. Get some Friends to Check your Resume/Cover Letter
Even better is if you get some other humans to have a quick look over your things.
36. Get University Teachers to Check Your Resume
The best possible plan is to get someone who works at a university job in South Korea to have a quick look. They’ll know what’s important, or not.
37. Read Directions 0n Job Ads (and Follow them to the T)
Follow the job ad directions precisely. They want email? Email them. They want XYZ in the subject line? Write XYZ. They want it by mail? Mail them.
If you don’t follow the directions precisely, your application will often get thrown into the trash. And, it’s also a good indication to an employer whether or not you’ll be on top of things like grades and a class portfolio.
38. Prepare Reference Letters
If you can get reference letters in Korean, it’s even better. If it’s in Korean, get a neutral middle party to translate the gist of it for you to make sure it’s actually positive.
39. Get Published
Even informally is fine. More formal stuff is even better. It looks great for the university if you can publish while you’re working there. They’ll get some prestige, and you can may even bit of cash from the university too.
40. Get Proof of Employment from Previous Jobs
There is an official document in Korea that employers are required to give you by law. Make sure you get this because universities will probably ask for it. They basically just want to see that you actually worked where you said you worked for the specified amount of time.
41. NEVER Burn Bridges
Hate you hagwon and can’t wait to get out there? Can’t stand your co-teacher? Do all you can to leave on a positive note because any potential employer will likely phone them to get a reference. There are not actually that many teaching positions for foreign teachers in Korea and it seems like everyone knows everyone.
42. Make a Detailed Lesson Plan
Not all jobs will ask for one, but some do. If they don’t, you could bring it to your interview for some extra brownie points.
43. Gifts and Favours are Important
Never forget it. University jobs in Korea often depend on favours, etc. This has happened to me more than once. I’ve been at an interview and the interviewer asks me if I can help out at their summer camp, tutor their daughter, or do some proofreading. Strange, I know.
And even though it seems really weird, just say yes to whatever it is as a means to get your foot in the door.
44. Engage in Professional Development
Whatever you want to do, do it but always be trying to get better at your craft. It can never hurt your chance at a position by actually being a good person, and it can certainly help it!
45. Prepare for a Demo Lesson
And you better make it killer. If you’re not sure how to do this, there are a ton of resources online (and in my book: How to Get a University Job in Korea on Amazon)
46. Put only Relevant Stuff on the Resume
When you’re writing a teaching resume, put only your education and teaching related experience. Nobody cares that you were a groundskeeper at the golf course, or babysat children in high school. Trust me on this one. Learn more here:
47. Buy this Book
It’s equivalent in awesomeness to this post, but has like 10x more detail. It’s the best $2.99 you’re going to spend all year.
48. Make a Plan
And make it detailed. Finding a uni job in Korea is difficult and takes lots of work. Oh yeah, and don’t forget about taking any sort of uni job you can get when you’re just starting out. Even part-time can lead to a ton of hours in the future. As long as they give you a visa (or you’re married to a Korean), you’re gold.
49. Join this Facebook Group
If you’re looking for a bit of support during your quest to get a uni job in Korea, you’ll need to join this FB group:
50. Shorten up that Resume
One page is enough! Who wants to read more than that? Nobody, especially someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language.
Unless you have a ton of related publications or something like that, then a 2-pager is most definitely not necessary.
51. Include Personal Information
You’ll want to put the following at the top of your resume when applying for a job teaching English in Korea: Nationality, age, visa status in Korea. University jobs in South Korea demand it.
I know, it may seem kind of illegal and/or weird in your home country. Get over it. It’s just how things are done in Korea!
52. Avoid a too Complicated Resume
Remember that the person screening your resume likely doesn’t speak English as their first language. Make your education and experience with teaching adults crystal clear.
I will often state this very clearly again in my cover letter, as well as text in the body of my email.
53. Use Internet Explorer
Yes, IE is pure evil and crashes like every 2 minutes but you’ll need to use it if you have to download a university application form. Use the computer at work which probably already has this loaded on there.
54. Have a Solid Cover Letter
Your resume is important, but so is a solid cover letter. And again double and triple check for any spelling or grammatical errors.
55. Learn How to Actually Teach English
Real teachers can smell another real teacher from a mile away. They walk the walk and talk the talk. If you’re a bit weak on actual, teaching ability, it’s time to bone up. There are no co-teachers to use as a crutch in university, or endless games of hangman here. You’re on your own and employers want to hire people who will swim, not sink.
56. Talk to People
Drop the word to anyone and everyone that you’re on the prowl for a uni job in Korea. Not in a weird way, but just mention that you’re looking for a job. You never know who will know a friend of a friend, etc.
57. Start your University Job Search Early
It can take months to network as well as get things like criminal record checks or sealed transcripts. Preparation is key is you’re serious about getting a university job in South Korea.
58. Consider this Job Search Method
Do you want to find out what it is? Check out the article below:
59. Gather a Housing Deposit
Many universities offer housing allowance instead of providing housing. You’ll often need a deposit of 5-10 million Won if you don’t want to live in the ghetto.
Either way, don’t let this be the factor that stops you from taking a job.
60. Do Mock Interviews
Get your English teaching friends to help you. Better yet, find another teacher also looking for uni jobs and grill each other.
61. Get a Sex Change Operation
Korean universities like to hire the ladies more than the men. Sure it’s sexist but it’s also reality. As a bonus, you can get a nice trip to Thailand out of it. Joking, kind of. But, hey, if you’re serious about getting a university job in South Korea, you might want to consider it?
62. Use Correct Language
If you say anything in Korean, be sure you’re addressing the people correctly. Don’t even know what I’m talking about? Just speak in English to avoid making this serious mistake.
63. Consider immigrating to Canada
It’s just for the passport, eh? It’s kind of too cold to actually live there. Koreans seem to love Canadians more than just about any other country when it comes to English teachers.
64. Understand Korean Culture
You will likely get a Korean culture question or two during your interview. Be observant and bone up on your knowledge:
65. Update Your References
Make sure all their contact information is up-to-date as well as that they’re still “friendly.” A quick text or check-in is usually sufficient.
66. Avoid Negotiating Salary
You’ll get what you get and there’s usually no room for negotiation. This will just be a big turn-off for those on the hiring committee and they may just move your application to the bottom of the list if you even try it.
67. Avoid Negotiating Interview Times
The people interviewing you are likely far busier than you are. And it’s also a bad sign that you won’t be willing to bend over backwards to make your boss happy.
You may get a few choices for when you can go. Just pick from there and make it happen, no matter what!
68. Call in “Sick” if Necessary
Your hagwon won’t give you time off to go to a university interview? No problem. Just use a sick day and don’t have a second thought about. Read your contract, but most of them don’t require you to bring a doctor’s note in if you’re only gone for one day.
69. Don’t Give Up!
Stay motivated by whatever means necessary because it can take quite a while to find one of these most coveted jobs. Some people even work for a year or two at something like a hagwon before they get a university job in Korea.
70. Get Plastic Surgery
It really is the land of the beautiful. For all things rearranging face, head straight to Gangnam. Give up all rights that you think you have against discrimination against this kind of thing. In Korea, there is no such thing.
71. Speak Clearly
Your interviewers want to know that the students will be able to understand you easily. I explain it all, clearly, in this YouTube video.
72. Be on Time for the Interview
Go early if you are unsure about location. University campuses are notorious for being difficult to navigate, especially if you’re not stellar at Korean. Then, just find a coffee shop, or a nice bench in the park to chill out if you’re early.
I try to arrive about 5-10 minutes early for the interview. Too early and the secretary may not know what to do with you!
73. Don’t Ask too Many Questions
Show that you’re just chilled out and can go with the flow. Nobody wants to work with someone who is all needy and annoying. Of course, ask any genuine questions that you may have, but just not too many of them.
74. Think About Why You Can’t Get the Job
If you’ve been searching for a uni job for a long time, but aren’t having much luck, there are a few common reasons why. Maybe it’s one of these reasons. Why You Can’t Get a University Job in Korea.
75. Bring 2 Copies of Documents to Interviews
You never know and they could definitely come in handy. If someone asks you ABC, it’s certainly impressive to just pull it out of your bag, right?
76. Like “How to Get a University Job in South Korea” on Facebook.
There is a ton of information about this important topic.
77. Get an Interview without Experience
It really is possible, perhaps. Read this article. How to Get a University Job with No Experience. However, university jobs in South Korea seem to be scarce these days, so the more experience, the better.
78. Join this Facebook Group
You can make a ton of connections right here:
79. Be Humble
For your first university job in Korea, you’ll need to take what you can get. Don’t be picky. Sure, it may be in the countryside, or the salary may be slightly lower than you were hoping for. But, that’s the way it goes. Just take the job and try not to worry too much about it.
80. Build a teaching portfolio
Online is easiest, but in a binder would work too. It’s a nice tool to have in case someone wants to take a look at it.
Koreans love friendly teachers.
82. Be Outgoing
If you’re really shy, you probably won’t make a great teacher. Think about it: if you look unfriendly and shy during an interview, your interviewers could reasonably assume that you’ll be the same way with the students.
83. Lose Some Weight
The thinner the better! Unless you’re a guy of course, in which case you’ll want to hit the gym and build a few muscles.
84. Answer the personal questions
Yes, they’re considered rude in a Western country but in Korea, it’s totally normal. Expect at least 1-2 questions such as, “Are you married?’ at your interview.
85. Follow Instructions Carefully
I said it before, but I’ll say it again because it’s so important. Some video inspiration. Seriously. University jobs in South Korea all have different application requirements and you really need to pay careful attention to this.
86. Don’t Waste Your Time with In-Person Visits
In person visits might not get you the results you want. They’re often kind of a waste of time because it’s so difficult to find the person who does the hiring. In-Person Visits: Only for the Desperate?
87. Bone Up on Teaching Methodology
Yes, some universities actually ask about this kind of thing in interviews. Consider a TEFL Training Course to help you with this.
88. Network Some More!
Other uni teachers are your best source of up-to-date job postings. Become friendly with some of them, okay?
89. Cold Call if Desperate
It’s time-consuming, but some people do find jobs this way. Make the rounds to the universities in your area. However, see #86 for why it’s not the best use of your time.
90. Make a Back-Up Plan
University jobs in Korea are difficult to come by these days. Make a plan in case things don’t work out. The best case scenario would be teaching adults. The next best would be high school students. Do that for a year and then hit the applications hard the following year.
91. Get Experience with Adults
Teaching adults at a hagwon, or even high-school kids is the best way to get experience that universities will consider relevant. Consider doing this for a year if necessary before applying for university jobs.
92. Go to the Countryside
Everyone wants the jobs in Seoul or Busan. Consider other options if you really want to get a university job in South Korea. You’ll have far less competition, and hey, I lived in the countryside for 5 years and really enjoyed it!
93. Take the Terrible Uni Job
The one with low pay or not much vacation. Get the experience and then work your way up in the world. I recommend staying for 2 years because most jobs want an MA and 2 years of uni experience before they’ll consider you. Keep your eye on the prize and just power through it.
94. Consider the Contract Carefully
Not all university jobs are created equal and there are certainly some better contracts than others. Here are 12 points to consider.
95. Pay Attention to What you Do Online
Yes, universities do “Google” you to see what you’re up to. A terrible online reputation can certainly hurt you and make sure you’re never caught talking about your students in even a vaguely inappropriate way. This is also the fastest way to lose a job once you have it.
96. Marry a Korean
Get that coveted “F” visa and you’ll have plenty more options. Plus, you may get other extra benefits such as a nicer apartment, or more housing allowance. These days, you can also get an F visa on your own by having enough education, speaking Korean, etc. if you plan to stay in Korea for the long term, it’s certainly worth considering.
97. Prepare Handouts for Demo Lessons and Interviews
Koreans like to see some tangible results from your “hard work.” Don’t be shy about spreading about your goodness.
98. Follow me on Twitter
Lots of tips and tricks right here:
99. Follow this board on Pinterest
University Job Korea. You’ll find lots of useful stuff about getting a university job in South Korea.
100. Apply for All Jobs
Even if you’re not really qualified for them. While it may be kind of annoying, you may slip in at the last minute if a school gets desperate.
101. Follow up on Applications
Give it two or three weeks and then send a quick email. People are busy so don’t bug them too soon, but checking in never hurts.
102. Follow up on Interviews
After an interview, send a quick email saying that you appreciate the opportunity, nice to meet you, etc. It never hurt anyone, you know? And if they’re trying to decide between two candidates, it may give you a slight edge.
103. Join my Email List
If you like this awesomeness, well the emails are ever better. It’s the most useful email you’ll get all week, guaranteed, or your money back.
Have your Say about a University Job Korea
Do you have any tips or tricks for someone who wants to get a job in Korea? Leave a comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2019-11-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API