Finding a Trustworthy Teach Abroad Recruiter

If you’re considering moving abroad to teach, whether you want to teach ESL or another subject, you’ll likely find that the easiest – and safest – way to find a position is through a teach abroad recruitment agency. If you choose to work with a recruiter, you’ll need to be sure that you’re working with a company that is trustworthy (we’ve all seen the horror stories online).

When vetting recruiters, a few important questions that you should research are:

  • Do they have good reviews from real people online?
  • Do they charge me for their services? Are there hidden fees somewhere along the process?
  • Do they place teachers overseas legally? Do the teachers they place overseas end up getting a proper working visa?
  • Do they work with reputable schools?

Many people begin their research online by compiling a list of teach abroad recruiters and learning more about each one. Check out their website and look for reviews on other reputable websites (GoOverseas and GoAbroad are both great resources to search through). Next, you should get in contact with someone at the agencies that you’re interested in working with. Most recruiters will set up some kind of interview with you where you should both be getting to know each other.


Things to consider when choosing a teach abroad recruiter:


Seems legitimate: 

There are a lot of reviews across different online platforms (mostly positive reviews, that is). The reviews are well-thought-out, specific, and are more than one or two sentences long.

Doesn’t seem legitimate:

The only reviews you can find are located on the recruiter’s website, or the reviews that you find are all very short and general. At best, these types of reviews are legitimate but don’t help the decision-making process along very well. At worst, they’re fake.



Seems legitimate: 

If the recruiter does not charge a fee at all or if they tell you what the fee is and what it’s for up front, then you’re probably in the clear. Both types of recruiters exist, and many people choose to go with the recruiters that don’t charge at all. Remember – fees in this industry do not have anything to do with the quality of service that you’ll receive.

Many recruiters get paid by the schools that they work with, so there is no reason for them to charge you any money for placement services. If they do charge, read the fine print before agreeing to anything!

Doesn’t seem legitimate:

Avoid recruiters that don’t give you an upfront answer about whether or not they charge teachers for their services. If the company does not make it clear that they will not try to charge you for anything, then it might be best to stay away. Transparency is going to be both you and your recruiter’s best friend during the overseas job search process.


Work visas and other documents

This information might be a little harder to find during your research, but you’ll want to find out some information about what happens after the recruitment company places you in a position overseas. You might have to set up an interview and directly ask your recruiter about this to get the information that you need.

Seems legitimate: 

If the recruiter has visa or document authentication information on their website, then you can cross check that with other sources to see if it’s correct and legitimate. The problem with this is that there’s a lot of contradicting information on the internet, so you might not always be looking at credible resources.

If you ask a recruiter face to face or over the phone about how the visa process works and they provide you with detailed information, then you’re probably in the clear. A verbal explanation is always good, but you can also request additional resources like infographics or links to webpages.

Doesn’t seem legitimate:

If the recruiter doesn’t seem to know what they’re talking about or if they give you very little information about the visa process, then beware. If a company is recruiting for other countries, they should be aware of what the visa process entails before sending people over there to figure it out all on their own.

If you find any reviews that allude to the fact that the company does not ensure that the teacher received a proper work visa, you should be careful. Many teach abroad recruiters do things by the book and follow proper regulations, but some companies are not so transparent about the potential legal repercussions of their actions (i.e., working with schools that do not provide a proper work visa).


Does the recruiter work with reputable schools?

This is difficult information to find out sometimes, as many recruiters don’t typically advertise the names of all of the schools that they work with.

Seems legitimate: 

If you’ve found a lot of good reviews from past teachers, you can probably assume that you’re in the clear. Many recruiters prefer to wait to give out the names of the schools until you’ve applied through them, as they don’t get paid by the schools if you apply on your own– this is normal. 

Beware: researching schools in other countries may not be the best way to find the information you’re looking for.

1. People that had a bad experience for whatever reason are much more likely to leave a bad review, compared to people that had a good experience and didn’t think about the fact that they could leave a review. This is true for any industry. 

2. Consider what kind of country you’re going to, and set your expectations appropriately. If you have extremely high expectations for your new life in a less developed country, then you’re going to have a bad time. Some people that leave bad reviews for a school fall into this category.

Read the reviews carefully too. What do people clearly love about the school? What do they not love? How important are each of these things to you? You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons before making your decision.

You can also ask your recruiter if you can speak to someone else that worked at or is currently working at a specific school to ease your mind.

Doesn’t seem legitimate:

If the recruiter completely refuses to tell you what schools they work with at any point in the process, then you’re in for a rough ride, especially if you’ve been made an offer and still don’t know the name of the school or education group.

Another bad sign: overwhelmingly poor reviews of the schools.

Am I being rushed through the placement process?

Seems legitimate: 

Your recruiter takes their time to explain things to you and answer your questions. They make sure that you’re comfortable with the pace you’re going, and they have certain requirements that you must meet. A legitimate recruiter should ask for multiple documents from you (i.e., your resume, proof of education, a photo, proof of a TEFL/teaching license, etc.) before sending your application to schools.

If the recruiter seems to be doing their due diligence, then you’re probably in the clear. The process should be moving at a rate that you’re comfortable with, and the recruiter should be taking the time to make sure that the best matches are being made.

Doesn’t seem legitimate:

If the recruiter barely interviews you or doesn’t ask important questions about your experience, salary/age group/housing/location preferences, family members coming with you, pets coming with you, etc., then they are not doing their due diligence. Recruiters like this are rushing through the process, and they will not find good matches for you this way.


Other things to research before your interview with a recruiter:

  • Countries you’re considering
  • Salary ranges in each country
  • Cost of living in each country
  • Types of schools in each country
  • Visa requirements

These are important things to understand, because if you go into an interview without knowing these types of things, then you’re more likely to get scammed.

A very important thing to look into would be the visa requirements for potential teach abroad destinations. If you don’t meet these, then you won’t be working legally in your desired location. We cannot express enough the importance of ensuring you know about the visa requirements of those countries you wish to work in before moving abroad to start your new position, and your recruiter should know too!

Check out another great article that Verge Magazine wrote about this topic.


The takeaway

The recruiter you choose to work with should care about your needs and preferences. You should be excited to talk to them, and they should be excited to talk to you. If they are clearly trying to build a relationship with you and make sure that your needs are met, then you’re on the right track to getting your next great teach abroad position!


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