An Open Letter to Job Applicants (from a Recruiter)

An Open Letter to Job Applicants (from a Recruiter)
Sinobear Oct 20, 2013 21:06

Thank you for taking your time to apply for the position that I advertised on this site and others.


As a person (and yes, a native English speaker to boot!) responsible for hiring (which also means responsible for a huge chunk of my company’s expenses) I have a great responsibility for receiving applications, following up, arranging and conducting interviews, and ultimately making the hiring decisions.


Now, I’m not naïve enough to assume that I would have hundreds of fully qualified applicants inundating my email an hour after posting, but I am a little dismayed at what I do (and do not) receive after two weeks.


First of all: read the advertisement. If I merely state, “Job open: email me,” I could understand the plethora of emails stating, “I good. Take job!” As my job postings make the requirements absolutely clear, please don’t waste your time applying if you do not in any way, shape or form meet the stated requirements. Believe me, I’m only stating the minimum requirements and not at all fishing for just a warm body.


Second: I may be a little advanced in age, but I believe that proper grammar is still the rule. I ain’t gonna hire u if u write lahk dis and cannot even capitalize ‘I’. Furthermore, I do check names through various means after you apply. There are a lot of forums where people post, assuring other forum members that, “I don’t write/speak like this in the classroom.” I call BS.


Third: learn to write at least a decent C.V. I’ve seen “resumes” that run only seven words to just half a paragraph (with or without a cover letter). Especially those with huge gaps in time missing or if you’ve jumped around a lot…12 years’ experience is great….unless it happened to be 12 (or more) jobs in the same timeframe.


Fourth: be polite and professional in all exchanges. Being asked for documents you’ve already submitted previously is unnerving (and should give you an indication of the kind of company you’re dealing with) but terse emails and a snippy response to a valid question during a Skype interview will not win you any points.


Fifth: if you’re going to post your resume online, don’t be surprised if I email you showing interest. I routinely scan sites with active resumes online and send emails to candidates that I feel would be acceptable. You may apply to hundreds of openings without receiving a response…I send hundreds of emails to job-seekers with the same null response.


Sixth: be realistic (part one). You should be able to Google a school, a location and find out the average salary for that position in that city. Yes, salaries can be negotiated but not from 6000 RMB/mo. Up to 20K. If you want low hours, you get low pay (universities). If you want a higher salary, higher hours are part of the equation (training centers). Mid-range salaries come with mid-range hours. Conversely, if you are broke and desperate, do not expect me to solve all of your problems, I need assets not liabilities.


Seventh: be realistic (part two). I see a trend for people advertising themselves as ‘Managers/Directors, curriculum designers and teacher trainers.’ Having only six month’s experience as a teacher in a training center fresh out of university with your B.A in Basket-Weaving and Advanced Finger Painting does not make one anywhere near qualified to manage a department. I advertise for teachers, so telling me that you want to be the manager of the operation kind of defeats the purpose of applying in the first place.


Eighth: don’t be afraid to ask questions. I cannot possibly list all of the duties, responsibilities, benefits regarding the position or details about lifestyles, cost of living, etc., in my city. I would be more suspicious of someone who asks no questions as opposed to someone who asks dozens of questions. I am serious about hiring the right person, I hope that you are just as serious about finding the right employer and location.


To non-native English speakers or those from countries other than the big five (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the U.S, or the U.K): I know it seems unfair that almost all of the positions for English teachers are for native English speakers only. I cannot help this. Many provinces stipulate that they will only grant a legal Foreign Experts Certificate for those from the big five. As many of my students want to go abroad to study in the big five, they want someone from that country who can impart cultural information about said country.


To those 60 and over, many cities will no longer process work permits for you.


Finally, remember when you are applying for a position that you are, in fact, applying for a job. You will be expected to perform the duties for which you are hired diligently and you will receive remuneration for the execution of said duties. You will have your time to play, travel, practice Chinese and live a life of debauchery (should you choose) on your own time. Don’t expect a paid vacation on my dime.


About me: I’ve lived and worked in China continuously for 15 years. I’ve hired, fired, trained, explained, moved up and moved on.

Tags:Teaching & Learning Business & Jobs Expat Rants & Advice Lifestyle


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I agree with you on all points. I'm a Singaporean living in Guangzhou for 2 years now. I've just sold off my business to my local partner and decided to take up teaching. The aim is to pay forward what I have taken from China in terms of their hospitality, their support and most importantly, their acceptance of me into their society. It is easier for me to be accepted because I am Chinese. I know that many teachers here do not have the basic qualifications to teach. They should at least have some form of training while on the job. However, they cannot be blamed in totality because there are so many agents recruiting teachers just because they are Caucasian. Just take a look at this website. "No degree needed, No TEFL needed, No experience needed, High pay, Just need to sing and dance". I wouldn't be surprised if agents are pulling 18 year old Caucasian kids off the streets to be teachers! Also to be blamed are parents of these students. Their logic is "Of course! Only laowais have the best English, so who else can be better!" Being Chinese, I hear these comments on public buses everyday when they brag about their children's' school work. I have said repeatedly that I have nothing against native speakers. We, non natives are more technical when we teach English and to native speakers, some of the things we learnt are subconscious to them because they were born into such an environment. As such, it doesn't need to be taught. It is very difficult to get an ESL job for a non native here in China. I have sent out a few hundred applications in the past month and got about 2 dozen replies. However, most refuse when they discovered that I am Asian and Chinese . I also found out that the hiring requirements are not clear. Some say that English teachers must be from the Big 5 while many others haven't even heard of this. Some of the bigger schools allow part timers to be non natives while some don't. For non native speakers, I have the to say: 1. Be humble, even if your English is perfect. Don't try to tell the recruiters that you are more fluent than native speakers. They will never believe you. 2. Make sure that you are armed with the at least a B.A. degree. 3. Get your TEFL certificate, if possible with good grades. 4. Talk to schools directly. Recruiters wouldn't even look at you if you sent your photo to them, much less offer you a job. 5. When you get a job, make sure they get you a working visa. Do not, at any instance, consider working on a tourist visa because it's illegal and will get you fined, jailed and deported. Finally, don't give up your search. Extend your search to smaller cities. These cities tend to lose out when hiring natives because they are too far flung and remote. Don't be picky. Start out small and grow from there. It's natural to be frustrated but you need to persevere if you are dead set on becoming a teacher here. If you are trying your luck, I can only say you are wasting a lot of your time and other people's time.

Jan 19, 2014 16:20 Report Abuse



first of all can you please explain native?...because i have been shot down by 99.99% of the jobs even after studying from cambridge that i did not hold a good coloured passport. Im sorry to say sir but China has been one of the most racist countries regarding this subject where jobs are available based on skin colour. Where a Russian and a German can teach english how ever an african or middle eastern cannot. Can you please shed some light on this topic? ( i believe my grammar was fine in the statement).

Dec 23, 2013 23:25 Report Abuse



Surprising how much of the obvious isn't that obvious to applicants. As a recruiter, what's your take on the chinese learn-by-rote teaching style, and the way foreign teachers in private institutions have more of an entertainment task than a teaching one? I'm sure I'm not the only teacher who came here with hopes of improving (young) adults' communication, but ended up being a climbing rack for 3-9 year old spoiled rich kids, teaching only the simplest of English vocabulary.

Nov 22, 2013 16:27 Report Abuse



probably 65% of ESL teachers are very marginal people that almost by definition don't have what it takes to make it in the real world. That's why they work as ESL teachers in China. It's a joke industry and suitable for jokers who don't have their shit together. These are people who cannot get a job doing anything else. I dated an ESL teacher for a while and I know just what you mean about having COMPLETELY unrealistic expectations that they are qualified to be managers/curriculum developers. Try finding any school curriculum developer under 40 in the US, it's a tough job requiring a very specific skill set. It would be like me saying i'm reading to be CFO because i've been an FA for a few years.

Oct 25, 2013 10:35 Report Abuse