Common Job Scams
Recruiters Use On English Teachers

Job scams come in different shapes and forms. When you're 6,000 miles from home, and wind up on the short end, it hits a lot harder. Teaching English in Japan truly can be the opportunity and experience of a lifetime. The chance to make life long friends, learn a new language and start your international career off. It can be all this and it can be none of this.

Along with the skyrocketing popularity of those hungry to experience Japan has also come the unscrupulous recruiters and job placement organizations who promise the naive teacher the world and give them nothing. More info. on unfair contracts and job scams here. Let’s look at some common job scams recruiters use to lure unsuspecting teachers into unfair contracts, bad working conditions and poor living conditions.

Often you’ll see ads that seem simply too good to be true. You may see ads that will promise or guarantee placement, personal apartments, free language lessons, piles of paid vacation all with the added allure of the chance to experience the unique culture of Japan.

Regarding this, If it sounds too good to be true - it is. Because of the competitive nature of running English schools in Japan any one school can’t afford to give 10 times what another does. It flat-out doesn’t make sense.

Having said this, here is a short list of tell-tale signs that something is “fishy” or a scam.

  • The recruiter asks for fees up front for placing you. The company that employs you will pay any legitimate recruiting firm.
  • They ask for “visa processing fees” or some other administrative fee. Payment of these fees is the responsibility of your employer and not you.
  • They don’t use a legitimate street address. Instead they rely on a post office box address.
  • Be aware of any company that charges you for job leads claiming that they have an inside track on "great jobs” that never make it to the paper or internet. The truth about getting good job leads is actually learning about them from other teachers who have worked those jobs and now are headed home. Note: This is not true of TEFL placement agencies like i-to-i who has legitimate connections with many junior high schools and high schools throughout Japan and offers free job placement assistance in exchange for taking their courses.
  • Be suspicious as heck of overly prestigious sounding names.
  • Get everything in writing. Look at the contract carefully and make sure everything is in line with accepted labor practices. Ask in Japan ESL forums if something you find in your contract is accepted or is typical of other schools’ contracts. (You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn in a short period of time.
  • Never fall for the “We’ll get you a working visa after you arrive” line. (This is a common job scam usually outside of Japan and is more true. It’s illegal to teach in Japan without a working visa or other proper visas like a spousal visa.) Despite this some companies will hire and bring you over on a tourist visa if they are in a big pinch. After arrival they start the application process for your working visa.
  • Don’t cave into a pressure pitch like “there are only 2 more positions available, so we need a firm commitment from you now” sort of a thing. Haven’t you seen enough of this in T.V. commercials telling you to “call while supplies last” or “hurry supplies are limited.” Same thing.
  • Never give out personal information like credit card or bank information.
  • Don’t even consider a company that won’t issue you a working contract or one that will bill you per job lead. These job scams are used the most.


  • Some Common Job Scams Used – How They Operate

    Often illegitimate recruiters will simple comb the job boards getting contact names etc. from the teachers who post their resumes. Then they will contact you saying they have a list of schools looking for qualified teachers like you.

    Wait it gets better. Then they’ll ask you to check the names of the schools you’d be interested in teaching for and ask you to send them your list. They then will tell you those that you choose are reserved for their “premium clients”. How do you become such a client? Send in your hard earned money and watch it disappear.

    Protecting Yourself From Job Scams

    Never take a job outside your homeland without thoroughly checking them out.

    If you have any questions ask! Also ask for references from other people they have placed and do your homework.

    Spend some time in ESL forums and ask others who have been teaching for years if they know of the firm. You’ll be surprised at how many other ESL teachers know of or have been scammed by them.

    Keep all written documentation and e-mails. Never go on something by word of mouth.

    Last but not least, always leave yourself an out by taking enough money with you or at least a credit card. And if you find yourself in a jam and a scam, you can always contact general union for help with disputes between yourself and your employer.

    Return to Jobs in Japan from Job Scams

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