Updated: Mar 15, 2020
How to Avoid Common ESL Teaching Job Scams
If teaching abroad is something you’ve done any amount of research on, or even expressed a vague passing interest in, you will no doubt have come across plenty of ‘agencies’ or ‘partners’ that leave you with the impression that something just isn’t quite right. Let’s go through the tell-tale signs that reveal these ‘job offers’ to be bigger scams than astrology experts…
Asking for Money
Right off the bat, the most obvious give-away that an ESL Teaching Vacancy or Recruiter is fake, is that they’ll ask you for money. At no point in time will an authentic ESL opportunity require you to hand over cash to pursue; the only expenses you will pay are document authentication to your local government/notary, your flight ticket (to be reimbursed upon beginning of work) and your Visa application fees (unless your particular school offers to cover the cost). No insurance fees or any other fee will be asked for – especially before you even come to the country.
Shifty Visa Promises
Another sign of a scam is when the person contacting you says it's okay to come to China on anything other than a Z Work Visa. To do any kind of paid work in China, you MUST have a Z Work Visa – so be suspicious of anyone who says it is okay to travel on an L Tourist Visa to begin with and then apply for the Z Visa when you arrive. More often than not, the contact will just look to get you into the country so they can get their commission and then ‘forget’ or constantly tell you ‘we are working on’ applying for the Work Visa.
You cannot apply for a Work Visa from within China, you will have to either do so from your home country or from Hong Kong.
If you get unsolicited emails/offers about ESL job opportunities, that is one more thing to be wary of. Reputable companies, schools and agencies will be post their vacancies on paid job websites; scammers most likely won’t pay for an advert or job posting. That’s not to say real companies don’t post on free websites or send unsolicited emails, but just be sure to clarify where they got your contact information from – for example, an agency who saw your CV on a paid service is more likely to be real than an agency who anonymously messages you on Facebook.
Talk to them via video call
Again, it seems obvious, but when you discuss things with a recruiter, be sure to do so over a Skype or Wechat or Whatsapp video call, so you can verify that it’s a real professional person that you’re talking to. You’ll also have their face to show to spread awareness of any potential scammer. Likewise, if their email address is a generic hotmail or gmail account rather than registered to a company domain, then it is likely to not be an authentic recruiter you’re talking to.