What Is an ESL Recruiter and when Should You Use One?


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It doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran teacher or just starting the search for an ESL job – you’ve likely come into contact with an ESL recruiter.  They may be posting jobs on behalf of a school, running their own website with a job board, or even impersonating the school itself, but they play a big role in helping thousands of teachers land jobs every year.

What is an ESL recruiter?

ESL recruiters are widely used in every country popular with ESL teaching and serve as the middleman between schools and teachers.  While they are a business, they often provide invaluable services for teachers searching for jobs in every type of school.

Recruiters either work for themselves or are part of an established company and are paid a commission by the school for finding a teacher (warning – never pay a recruiter for their services if you are a teacher!).  They typically have an established group of schools for which they recruit, though if they are established they can target other schools if the teacher is interested.

What do recruiters actually do?

Recruiters typically serve as agents for bridging the divide between and teachers.  They are often the first point of contact for teachers on the job hunt and help filter qualified applicants to different schools.  They can also help assess the applicants and administer tests, check references, and oversee demo classes to determine fit.

Generally, ESL recruiters can perform any or all of the undermentioned functions for both schools and teachers:


  • Recruitment of ESL teachers based on received specifications
  • Conducting interviews on behalf of schools to screen out unqualified or unsuitable applicants
  • Managing and performing HR functions with employed personnel while aiding employers to reduce significant cost of setting up HR/Recruitment teams


  • Examining and confirming legitimacy of employers
  • Helping teachers evaluate contracts
  • Matching specific skills possessed by each teacher to their best-suited institutions
  • Easing the transitioning and settling into jobs in foreign countries
  • Managing and protecting the interest of ESL teachers in foreign countries
  • Assessment of jobs offers received by ESL teachers and explanation of contract details to the best understanding of the teachers
  • Manage documents and resources during job hiring process and visa acquisition
  • Offering pre-departure guidelines, advice and tips concerning new working conditions, tax laws, and medical insurance
  • Advertising professional services of teachers to prospective employees
  • Organize and coordinate arrival of teachers in foreign countries with the employing schools
  • May organize social events and conferences that promote networking in the ESL line of work among potential employers and teachers
  • Academic support for creating and delivering educational materials like lesson plans and training

When should you use an ESL recruiter?

Recruiters are often a divisive topic – people either love them or hate them.  I tend to fall into the former camp and have used a recruiter for both China and Korea – they were a huge help and as long as you know what to expect and how they operate they can be an asset.

In my opinion, every new teacher should at least talk to a recruiter as they can not only explain the schools for which they are qualified, but also open them up to jobs they might not know about.  If you are a veteran teacher you probably don’t need an ESL recruiter as much – you likely have the contacts and experience to find and evaluate jobs on your own and that’s perfectly fine.

The caveat is this – if you choose to rely on a recruiter you need to make sure to do your due diligence – check their reviews, speak to other teachers whom they have helped, and evaluate each school/job they bring you.  There are plenty of scammy recruiters out there and a bit of legwork on your part could save you a lot of stress in the end.

Finally, if you are interested in working for an established school, training center, or university and they have their own website and recruitment process then using an independent agent is not necessary.  Companies like EF and other well-known universities usually do their recruitment in-house like any other company and using a recruiter is an unneeded step.


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