Updated 17/16/2016: This is the last post in a series attempting to demystify the long and often complicated process of applying to teach English in South Korea. We applied to the EPIK program in 2013 and taught for a year until August 2014. While the EPIK program continues to wind down in South Korea, this advice is still good practice for applying for jobs overseas.
I’m going to try and break it down into a series of easy to follow steps, and this particular one outlines exactly what we did step-by-step. For more, check out how to get started and private vs. public school and recruiters.
Once I had fine tuned my CV, written my cover letter and completed my TEFL I wondered on over to www.gone2korea.com. This was February 2013.
Using a recruiter
Gone2Korea is one of many recruiters who act as the middle man between the Korean schools (both Public and Private) and you. They all offer a similar experience and thus my advice would be to go with whichever website you like the look of! Do not go with anyone who is asking for payment.
Once on the site, I clicked on the APPLY NOW button and filled out the online application form and uploaded my CV and cover letter. I also attached two recent photos of myself (one semi-professional and one semi-casual). In the form I stated that I wanted to work in a Public school, in a Metropolitan city or a medium city, and that I would like to work with kids in elementary or middle school.
A few days later I received an email from a G2K coordinator, he would be my go-to guy for the rest of the application process. We organised a Skype interview which took place a few days later. At this stage the interview is quite informal and most of the questions asked regarded screening me for things like criminal offences. Basically, as long as you are not a crazy criminal then you should do great!
Applying with EPIK
The next stage involved filling in the EPIK (English Program in Korea) application form and acquiring two reference letters. I was told that EPIK would open the hiring session on April 1st and that I would need to send the form, along with two reference letters to my coordinator, who would send them off immediately on that date.
As part of the application form you must write a personal essay, that is no less than 500 words, and a lesson plan, that is no less than 2 pages long. We were sent through an application manual to guide us through exactly what to put on the form and inform us of what was expected in the lesson plan. This was quite hard and involved many revisions, but our coordinator was there to help review everything each step of the way.
Our reference letters had to include a date, address and contact details, an official header and an ink signature.
We sent off these 3 documents, attached in an email, on the 29th March and on the 4th April I received an email informing me that I would have a Skype interview 5 days later with an EPIK representative! I immediately began preparing answers to the questions that my coordinator had sent through in a helpful ‘interview tips and advice’ document.
I was really really nervous about the interview but needn’t have been. It went really well and was not as pressurised as I was expecting. You are told that this stage of the process has become very strict and difficult to pass, but I think as long as you draft out some answers to the potential questions and smile a lot then you should look like you know what you are doing.
2 days later we were all told that we had passed our interviews!
The complicated part
In my opinion the next stage is the most complicated- gathering all your official documents together to send to Korea.
First thing first, I ordered my Criminal Record Check online. For English applicants this is called a Basic Disclosure and is done through Disclosure Scotland’s website. It was really simple, cost £25 and came within a few days. Once I had it, it had to be notarised by a notary public and apostilled by the foreign office. A notary public is basically a lawyer type who signs your documents, stating them as official. The foreign office then apostilles the notarised document, declaring it extra official… I obviously know exactly what I am talking about! Don’t worry about the technical jargon though, just know that once a notary has done their thing, either they, or yourself, need to send it off to the foreign office for apostilling. Notary prices vary but the apostille is always £36.
As a Brit I also had to get a copy of my birth certificate (from gov.uk) and have that notarised and apostilled.
From my university I had to get a copy of my transcripts in a sealed envelope and a letter of expected graduation as I had not yet graduated. We later sent our official documents and our legalised degree certificate.
Following the very thorough document checklist emailed to us, these documents were sent to Korea along with our reference letters, a signed copy of the EPIK form, copies of our passport and TEFL certificate and a few others. We sent them via DHL in the middle of May and they arrived within a week. The DHL courier service cost £34, but we were able to split the costs between the three of us as we sent all our documents together.
From mid May to the beginning of June a number of problems occurred with mine and Oli’s documents, but I will tell you more about next week.
On the 24th June, almost 4 months after beginning my application, I received my official results informing me of which provincial office I had been placed in.
So… that is that! I really hope this little step-by-step guide can help you understand a little more about the process. As always if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
Read next: what went wrong and what we did about it!
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