Questions from teachers and job-seekers
“Are you sure that the advertiser isn’t a teacher placement agency?”
“Are you sure that the job ad is stating the correct salary because it seems a little high?”
“Is that a legitimate job ad because something doesn’t quite feel right?”
Fair questions. But unfortunately verifying the details of a TEFL job ad in Thailand is nigh on impossible.
Getting to first base is hard enough
The first step of any verification process would be to actually call the school and ask to speak to the person responsible for posting the job ad in question. For this task, you need a Thai person or someone almost native Thai fluent. There’s every chance the person answering the phone will have little more than a basic command of English and the task becomes even more of a hurdle when you’re communicating on a telephone.
I touched on this in a previous article, but many employers and schools don’t consider teacher recruitment a top priority. It can be something of a ‘necessary evil’. It’s a responsibility invariably given to a person who doesn’t really want it. The job of person in charge of recruitment can be passed around like an unwanted parcel before dropping in the lap of someone the least qualified to do it.
You can sometimes have a dozen staff members in a school admin department, one staff member will have the job of recruiting foreign teachers and the other eleven staff members won’t have the first clue which one of them it is.
All they know is that by some miracle, a fresh-faced foreign teacher usually arrives at the school on the first day of term.
Little surprise then that if one of the ‘other eleven’ is first to pick up the phone when you call to verify a job ad, you are met with painful silences, blissful ignorance and a trail that immediately goes cold.
Almost no Thai person is going to react well if you call them up and start picking apart their job ad. ‘Are you sure the salary is correct? Where will the teacher actually be working? I don’t understand what you mean by….? etc.
Thais generally don’t like being put under the spotlight. They don’t do cross-examination or enjoy giving straight answers to straight questions, especially when you are indirectly scrutinizing their job capabilities.
In these situations, you can often get an answer of ‘yes, that’s correct’ purely to get you off the other end of the telephone.
Even when you have an actual person’s name, things are rarely straightforward. The recruiter you are looking for is often out of the office, gone to lunch or throwing a sickie.
“In that case, could you get Khun Wanaporn to call back”
- “Yes, certainly”
They never do.
Numerous times I’ve had the following conversation with Thai company staff;
“Could I speak to Khun Abawat please?”
“Sorry, he’s not here”
“What time will he be back?”
“I don’t sure” (this is far more common than ‘I’m not sure’)
“Will he be back at work tomorrow?”
“I don’t know”
“Khun Abawat doesn’t work at the company anymore does he? He’s resigned”
“Yes. He resign already”
See what you’re up against? No one has the time to be bounced from pillar to post, recounting the same situation to several different staff members before eventually finding out the person you need resigned yesterday.
No one even wants to make the time.
Calling up and verifying job ad information can be a logistical nightmare. No, I’ll rephrase that – it’s a logistical impossibility.