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Re: Coming back to Korea with no reference
« Reply #20 on: September 24, 2015, 04:13:40 pm »
I'm sorry to hear that cari83, the same thing happened to me too. I just made sure that I got a certificate of service when I worked in a public school (I tried to get a reference letter from my foreign co-ordinator and two Korean co-teachers, they were hopeless or completely misunderstood what I wanted, in China for me it was no problem as a reference letter is required to change jobs/immigration purposes over there).

When I worked at my first hagwon I just got a reference from the other foreign teacher (were friends) and at the second hagwon I wrote the reference letter myself (and got the boss to sign, he also didn't want to or didn't understand why I wanted a reference/service letter).

Will China really call Korea anyways?

Not as far as I know, but if you have fewer than two years of teaching experience and they want to know if it's really worth it to secure you an illegal visa, they might.


Re: Coming back to Korea with no reference
« Reply #21 on: October 07, 2015, 12:34:11 pm »
I'm wondering if I could get copies of the letters of recommendation that I used to apply to Korea with? Because I heard they scan and keep copies of your documents, and if you pay a fee you can get a copy. Does anyone know who I might contact to see? The letters are from 2011 but they still might help me. Also I could ask my recommenders to update them and add a new date if they had time, instead of asking them to write new letters.

1. If it was through public schools, contact the coordinator for the native English teachers at the Office of Education. They keep a copy but I don't know for how long. If it was a hagwon, contact them directly. After getting the copy, retype everything with the new date.

2. Next, do not ask the referrers to do anything except sign it. It should be made to be very easy and simple for them. Do all the accommodating for them. Email them in advance with an expected arrival time of the letter. Mail the letters to them with a pre-paid envelope.  Ask them to sign it and enclose the original signed letters in the pre-paid self-addressed envelopes. You will get a faster response this way. It is also good professional etiquette.

3. If they don't have copies of it, recall your working experiences with them and write new letters. Use the EPIK guideline to ensure that it contains all the necessary points and content. Email the drafts for the old referrers to review and edit. Ask them to email it back to you to check against the EPIK guidelines. Email a confirmed final version, ask to print and sign X original copies, and give an expected arrival time for pre-paid self addressed envelopes to mail them back to you.
 
No matter what, one of your references has to be for your most recent teaching job.

4. In regards to the co-teacher of 3 years who avoided giving you a letter...you did the right thing by dropping it.  You did everything right but she flaked on you or there may have been a misunderstanding.  You don't want to over labor the matter with her. Even if she gave a letter to you now, you have no assurance that she is going to verbally give you a good reference on the phone to a recruiter or new prospective employer or even respond to calls by them given how she has been behaving and had a mental shift towards you. It is a fact that there are co-teachers who will say good things to you and provide a good letter but express negativity over the phone to the recruiter or prospective employer.

5. Never, ever forge a letter. Do not forge a letter for the former co-teacher. They may eventually contact her and it will be found that it was forged. It will look bad for you and her. Instead, briefly state why you are not able to provide one from her and be careful with the diction. Say something like arrangements were made to provide the reference letter but then you left the school and she relocated and everyone lost contact - this is still a fact and doesn't give the perception that there was something wrong with you and the co-teacher later changed her mind. You're not lying here. Don't say it is because the co-teacher kept saying she would do it and avoided it. Present it professionally.

6. In place of that co-teacher:
- prepare the letters from the 2011 referrers
- get a letter from your current employer in SE Asia. Ask for their reference and offer to prepare it for them from which they can edit out of respect for their time. This is normal practice.
- try to get a letter from other co-teachers, not the direct supervisor, if you are still in touch with them
- get a proof of employment letter from the school where you and the co-teacher taught. If you have difficulty contacting the school, assuming it was a public school, contact the coordinator for native English teachers at the Office of Education - they will get you one within 1-4 weeks.

7. For all your past, current, and future employers, get a proof of employment document. Always get this! Use the instructions and content requirements indicated on the EPIK website for the proof of employment. Ask them to include the said details in the proof of employment document. If you ever decide to teach in China, you're going to need it to prove your teaching experience to the local government office before you get the paperwork to submit to the embassy for a Z-visa.

8. One good news is that some recruiters may only check up on your most recent teaching position (for hagwon jobs). So you may be able to get a hagwon job through your current SE Asia job referrer. One Korean recruiter only checked the most recent referral that was related to teaching. When I contacted one refferer, I found out that not all recruiters contacted her. Few did.

9. Talk to Korean recruiters now about your reference situation and see what they say. Give yourself peace of mind.

10. In the future, ask for their reference and offer to prepare a draft for them to revise while you're still working with them. Otherwise, ask and complete it near the time when it has been officially made known you will not be continuing another year with the current employer. Also, give a heads up email notice to your referrers when to expect to be contacted by recruiters or employers in Korea and for what period of time. Let them know it'll be between X to X months starting in [name] month. This is professional etiquette. After you accept and start a job, share the update to the referrers and thank them again. This is professional etiquette.

Keep in mind that Korean co-teachers in public schools are very busy. Asking them to write one for you feels like a burden because they have to do it in English. It takes time. So make it easy for them and offer to draft one that they can edit.

Also, one possible reason your co-teacher said yes but didn't fall through with it could be saving face. There are many Korean co-teachers who are not at the fluency level they should be in all 4 language skills. They may speak better than they write. They may write better than they speak. It is possible that your co-teacher is not confident in writing a flawless letter in perfect English grammar. Many Korean co-teachers are also shy to speak English in public like the rest of the population. She may have had a sense of shame and embarrassment feeling she would not be able to write a letter fluently and flawlessly. She may also have never written one before and doesn't know how to go about it. So she may have said yes because of Korean culture not saying "no" directly which is considered bad manner. They communicate no in a round about way. Perhaps she expected or hoped you got the hint the first time around, but you kept following up with her and so she ran away from it.

Best wishes to you. You will find a good job in Korea.

http://www.waygook.org/index.php/topic,91043.0.html
« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 12:50:45 pm by kindenglishteacher1 »


  • cari83
  • Adventurer

    • 35

    • September 07, 2011, 08:54:45 am
Re: Coming back to Korea with no reference
« Reply #22 on: October 08, 2015, 04:18:30 pm »
Update on this: I was miraculously able to get my 2011 reference letters. I contacted my recruiter to see if he knew who I should ask about copies, and he actually still had them and sent them to me.

KindEnglishTeacher1 - thank you SO much for this detailed advice. I'm considering writing to my 2011 referrers and including the PDF file of their letter in the first email. I'll ask them if it's alright for me to type it up, e-mail it to them for changes and send them an S.A.S.E. I want to send them the PDF first so they can see what they wrote, and whether they're willing to just update the date and contact information. I really hope they are. It feels awkward asking after not having kept in touch with them.

Piggydee - I didn't write any letter myself for her to sign. I should have, looking back, but it just seemed embarrassing to write a letter recommending myself. Also I didn't realize that it was commonly done.


I was offered a kindergarten position near Seoul, but they wanted my former school's number and I gave it to them. So...I haven't heard back and I doubt the reference was good, haha. I am going to have to stop applying for jobs that require the contact info of the Korean public school.

I don't know if returning to Korea is an option. Nor am I 100% sure I want to spend another year of my life there. I might try elsewhere. I made it to the 3rd interview stage for a job in Japan but they understandably needed references and I didn't have them. I'm thinking about finishing the first year of my 2-year contract here and giving the necessary notice, and seeing if my current boss will write a good letter of recommendation for me. That, coupled with the updated 2011 references (if they'll update them), would be very helpful. (I hope that my current boss doesn't refuse based on me not finishing the full 2 year contract.) Then I can find another job, try to do well there, and I would have 2 recent employers' references.

In the future I'm going to be sure to get letters. I think because I was leaving Korea after 3 years and at the same time breaking up with my boyfriend of 3 years, which was extremely difficult, I was way too distracted to press the issue. My co-teacher took me out to dinner to say goodbye, I thought our relationship was fine if not close, and when she said she'd write the letter I believed her.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2015, 04:23:31 pm by cari83 »


Re: Coming back to Korea with no reference
« Reply #23 on: October 08, 2015, 05:36:30 pm »
Update on this: I was miraculously able to get my 2011 reference letters. I contacted my recruiter to see if he knew who I should ask about copies, and he actually still had them and sent them to me.

KindEnglishTeacher1 - thank you SO much for this detailed advice. I'm considering writing to my 2011 referrers and including the PDF file of their letter in the first email. I'll ask them if it's alright for me to type it up, e-mail it to them for changes and send them an S.A.S.E. I want to send them the PDF first so they can see what they wrote, and whether they're willing to just update the date and contact information. I really hope they are. It feels awkward asking after not having kept in touch with them.

Piggydee - I didn't write any letter myself for her to sign. I should have, looking back, but it just seemed embarrassing to write a letter recommending myself. Also I didn't realize that it was commonly done.


I was offered a kindergarten position near Seoul, but they wanted my former school's number and I gave it to them. So...I haven't heard back and I doubt the reference was good, haha. I am going to have to stop applying for jobs that require the contact info of the Korean public school.

I don't know if returning to Korea is an option. Nor am I 100% sure I want to spend another year of my life there. I might try elsewhere. I made it to the 3rd interview stage for a job in Japan but they understandably needed references and I didn't have them. I'm thinking about finishing the first year of my 2-year contract here and giving the necessary notice, and seeing if my current boss will write a good letter of recommendation for me. That, coupled with the updated 2011 references (if they'll update them), would be very helpful. (I hope that my current boss doesn't refuse based on me not finishing the full 2 year contract.) Then I can find another job, try to do well there, and I would have 2 recent employers' references.

In the future I'm going to be sure to get letters. I think because I was leaving Korea after 3 years and at the same time breaking up with my boyfriend of 3 years, which was extremely difficult, I was way too distracted to press the issue. My co-teacher took me out to dinner to say goodbye, I thought our relationship was fine if not close, and when she said she'd write the letter I believed her.

Good to hear it, OP!

I don't think this was personal, honestly...I think there was probably a weird miscommunication somewhere. Now you're armed and informed for the future! (BTW- working in Japan usually means fewer hours, IME!)

Hope you're feeling better!


Re: Coming back to Korea with no reference
« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2015, 06:28:00 am »
I'm thinking about finishing the first year of my 2-year contract here and giving the necessary notice, and seeing if my current boss will write a good letter of recommendation for me.

It is highly recommended to not break your contract. Given the past employment history shared in your posts and planning next steps well, for your individual case, best not to break the contract.

It will hurt you in two ways - your referrer and when the question comes up on job application forms for your next job.

Learn from everything you experienced up to this point, both personally, professionally, and emotionally. How you deal with your current contract at this point in life is more about emotional reaction given everything you have shared. Accept everything about your current job and transform your attitude to one that is more positive and productive. Separate personal from professional. Shifting your attitude and outlook will make you more happy in your job, the opportunity you have in SE Asia, and build a better relationship with the employer for a good reference down the road. 

It is part of the growing pains and transition from the college grad to working professional in the adult world. It takes a few years (or more for some).  There is a difference between escaping from your problems and dealing with your problems; professionally handling circumstances or letting emotions drive your decisions.

Your current employer may say it is okay to you but behind the scenes your supervisor and the organzation will not be okay with it. Two year contract means that they made an investment in you. The supervisor may give you a reference letter but tell the person calling them up that you broke the contract or say something negative. It depends on how great a relationship you have. Despite your reason for breaking the contract, the employer may give a different reason why you broke the contract based on their perception.



Re: Coming back to Korea with no reference
« Reply #25 on: June 20, 2016, 03:45:19 pm »
This is quite a problem in Korea. My last hogwon contract ended badly (they cheated me). What am I supposed to do for a reference?
Creating shared values


  • asiaman
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    • 58

    • June 19, 2016, 09:07:39 am
Re: Coming back to Korea with no reference
« Reply #26 on: June 20, 2016, 04:22:45 pm »
Don't forge a letter! If immigration find out they might refuse you any more visas!
Can't you ask a former employer back home to write you a reference instead? I think you can use any employer within the last 3 years or so for EPIK jobs. If it's not an EPIK job, then you can use any employer up to about 5 years ago. That's what I've done in the past anyway. Or just ask them politely to write you a factual reference to the new owners of the school saying you worked there from such and such a date, until such and such a date and you were employed as an English teacher and worked 40 hours per week, 25 contact and 15 office.

That's what I've also done in the past to employers who don't know about your teaching at a company you've worked at.
There's ways to get a reference without forging one. ;D


Re: Coming back to Korea with no reference
« Reply #27 on: June 20, 2016, 06:35:46 pm »
Don't forge a letter! If immigration find out they might refuse you any more visas!
Can't you ask a former employer back home to write you a reference instead? I think you can use any employer within the last 3 years or so for EPIK jobs. If it's not an EPIK job, then you can use any employer up to about 5 years ago. That's what I've done in the past anyway. Or just ask them politely to write you a factual reference to the new owners of the school saying you worked there from such and such a date, until such and such a date and you were employed as an English teacher and worked 40 hours per week, 25 contact and 15 office.

That's what I've also done in the past to employers who don't know about your teaching at a company you've worked at.
There's ways to get a reference without forging one. ;D

Thanks for your reply. Interesting.

Isn't it vital to provide a reference from your most recent job?


I have excellent references from all my previous jobs except the most recent one, which is tripping me up.

Shall I just leave it off my resume?
« Last Edit: June 20, 2016, 06:53:57 pm by Kliuchevskoi »
Creating shared values


  • asiaman
  • Adventurer

    • 58

    • June 19, 2016, 09:07:39 am
Re: Coming back to Korea with no reference
« Reply #28 on: June 20, 2016, 06:56:03 pm »


Thanks for your reply. Interesting.

Isn't it vital to provide a reference from your most recent job?


I have excellent references from all my previous jobs except the most recent one, which is tripping me up.
First of all, phone up your most recent employer and ask them for a FACTUAL reference only. If they say yes, then use your most recent employer for a factual reference and tell your new employer that you can only use your most recent employer for a factual reference becasue they have new owners. The new employer will then understand.

If they say no, then just write down your previous 2 employers who you say you have got good references for and tell your new employer that you can;t get a reference or factual reference from your most recent employer because they have been taken over and can;t provide one for you.

This is the best way to get your references without forging one. if you forge one, your new employer might phone up to check who wrote it and if he finds out they didn;t write it, he will refuse to offer you the job,

So just try and get a factual reference first otherwise use the 2 previous references and say why you're doing so


  • asiaman
  • Adventurer

    • 58

    • June 19, 2016, 09:07:39 am
Re: Coming back to Korea with no reference
« Reply #29 on: June 20, 2016, 07:04:13 pm »
It depends how long you worked there if you want to leave your most employer off your resume. If you have nothing to hide and did a good job at your last employment, why don't you just do what I suggested in the post above this one?

If you only worked for a couple of months, you MAY be able to leave them off your resume if you can work out a way to fill in the time. What will you say you've been doing?  freelance work? Private tuition? I've done that once in the past and it worked ok but employers prefer references from real employers and want to see people working in a proper employment. It's up to you but try and get the factual reference sorted first by calling up the employer and asking them. why wouldn't they do it? Do they have a record of you teacdhing there? Do you have proof like a contract you worked there? Like I said, if you did a good job there you don't need to really leave it off your resume. ;D