Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Job Hunt

Up until pretty recently my job hunt has not been stellar. I've had a couple disappoints already, due to the bad economy. The first of these occurred last fall.

I graduated in June of 09 from Portland State University in Oregon, and the year leading up to my graduation I started my hunt for a teaching English position in Japan. I was mostly only considering the large eikaiwa at the time. Eikaiwa (英会話) are private English schools. Some of the largest are Aeon, its sister company Amity, Geos and until recently Nova. (Nova went bankrupt in 2007- you can read about ithere. I was also primarily looking for jobs on a website called Gaijin Pot. While a great site in some aspects, the job listings tend be divided into two categories: jobs with big Eikaiwa, and jobs for smaller schools with no visa sponsorship available (which means you have to already live in Japan and have a valid working visa).

Last fall I went to Vancouver, B.C. for an interview with Aeon. The interview process is somewhat intense. The first day consists of an information meeting and five minute lesson demonstrations which serve as a group interview. My particular interview only had about ten people altogether. Some have as many as fifty or more. I was offered a position with Aeon, but no official contract was available until after I finished my degree. However, by the time I received my degree in June, the economy had worsened. Many of Aeon's teachers were renewing their contracts rather than return to America and face the prospect of unemployment. And so after stringing me along for several months that summer, they finally told me to consider other companies.

My next attempt was with Amity, Aeon's sister school which focuses on children. I have two friends working for Amity in Japan, and they have both enjoyed their experience so far. I attended an interview in Seattle, however I wasn't offered a job with them. There wasn't a reason given.

I've been continuing my search for jobs but between the bad economy and few listings in the fall, I wasn't finding much. Then just recently someone mentioned the job listings at Dave's ESL Cafe. I've been amazed at how many opportunities there have been. Granted, now is the best time to look- most schools hire now because the Japanese school year begins in April and the visa process can take up to 2 months.

While I've had a lot of success with Dave's listings, I should mention that many of the Japanese employers posting there are only looking for experienced teachers or candidates that have a TESL/TESOL Certificate. But for serious teachers who fit those descriptions, it's a great resource. It's also a great place to look if you want a job somewhere other than Japan, such as Korea. Korea has a huge demand for English teachers and many schools are competing with each other to offer the most attractive benefits. Some will even pay for airfare and health insurance which most Japanese schools don't offer.

So that's the history of my job search so far. I've already received two interviews from positions I found on Dave's job board and I will be posting more about that soon.

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