I’m thinking of moving to Taiwan, but I’ve heard there are not as many teaching jobs as there used to be. Are there still many jobs? How can I improve my chances of finding one?
When I first arrived in Tainan six years ago I would be approached on the street and in restaurants by people who needed teachers. When I went to an interview, I would be interviewing the school, rather than the school interviewing me. Teachers were in very high demand. Schools would accept anybody.
Now, due to changes in the English teaching industry and an increase of the number of Westerners looking for teaching jobs (many driven here by the recent global recession), the job market is more competitive. You may have to interview with several schools before finding a job. If you come at the wrong time of year, you may have a lot of trouble finding one at all.
That being said, any person who plans properly and is willing to pound the pavement for a few weeks should be able to land a good job. To ensure that you find a job, it is important to plan your move to Taiwan properly. There are several things you can do to improve your chances of finding a job.
1) Find a Friend
Do you know anyone in Taiwan. If so, ask them if they know about any jobs. Most teaching jobs tend to be found by word of mouth.
2) Come at the Right Time
Teachers tend to sign contracts at the beginning of the semester, as this is when schools prefer that they start. Most contracts are one year long, and end the same time they started. This is when most teachers leave their jobs to travel or move home. So, the best time to look for a job is the end of the semester so that you can replace a teacher who will be leaving. The overall best time to look for work is the end of August, before the fall semester. Just before Chinese New Year (usually around the end of January) and the end of June are also good times.
3) Go Where the Jobs Are
The other thing you can do to improve your chances is move to the South. Taipei and Taichung have traditionally had larger foreign communities, and attract more teachers, making the teaching market more competitive there. Kaohsiung still seems to have a lot of teaching positions, and is a large and comfortable city. The market in Tainan is also fairly good. Personally, I prefer to live in the South anyways. There are usually fewer earthquakes and typhoons, and the weather is much better.
Schools in smaller towns are also usually good places to look for jobs. Few teachers are eager to move to them, as most prefer to live in a larger center with a larger expat community.
4) Know Where to Look
Many schools look for teachers on these websites:
5) Know What Not to Do
If you respond to teaching job ads online, chances are you will be contacted by an agent or recruiter. Although some agent/recruiters are good, they have a reputation for being overwhelmingly greedy and dishonest. They are referred to locally as ‘snakeheads’. Unless somebody has personally recommended an agent to you, then I would strongly suggest that you avoid dealing with them. Many people have lost their VISAs, lost pay, and been screwed over in every manner imaginable by agents.
If you would like to read the tale of one infamous agent, go to the Kaohsiung Living bulletin board listed above, and search for the name ‘Selwyn’. You will find numerous posts warning people about this agent who operates in Kaohsiung. There are some unbelievable stories about him!