Due to the largely anonymous nature of the internet, it is not uncommon to find unscrupulous individuals looking to pull scams on unsuspecting job seekers. However, the number of TEFL related jobs out there that are less than genuine are typically very small and there are a few simple rules you can follow to ensure you avoid them.
How can research help me spot TEFL job scams?
When searching for potential TEFL jobs online the best defence against any type of scam is to do plenty of research. If you are fully aware of the typical salary, expected benefits, working hours, and visa requirements in the country where you are looking for employment, any jobs that are a little dubious should stand out very clearly. As with many things in life, if a job offer sounds too good to be true, it most probably is.
Once you have found one or more job adverts that interest you there are a few things you can do to check their authenticity. One simple check is to put the name of the school in a search engine to see if it raises any flags from school blacklists, teacher’s blogs, or other EFL related websites. As it is easy for scammers to use the name of a respected school in an advert for a job scam, you should also check the email address used in the advert by visiting the genuine school's website. One easy way to spot a fake advert is if it contains a contact email that is similar to the original but uses a different domain. For example: an advert could use the address [email protected], while the genuine school address might be [email protected]
What if I am asked to send money upfront when applying for a TEFL job?
Although there are a few well respected programs that might require some form of payment upfront, it is not the norm and you should always be on your guard if an employer asks you to send them money. The simplest and most common scams generally involve fake schools requesting job applicants to send money upfront for plane tickets, visa fees, or security deposits etc. While some schools will expect you to cover your own airfare initially and then reimburse the expense on arrival, no legitimate school should ever ask you to provide money for flights upfront. It is also advisable to find out the price of any visa you might require to avoid being overcharged for it.
What if I am offered a TEFL job without having an interview?
As a large proportion of TEFL job applications are made from a different part of the world, an in-person interview is not always possible. However, as modern mobile devices are now common all over the world, interviews via webcam are common practice throughout the field of TEFL. If you have applied for a job and the employer shows no interest in an interview over the internet or by old-fashioned telephone, it is best to assume that something is not quite right.
What else can I do to spot a TEFL job scam?
One great way to find out what life is like in the school you are applying to is to speak to another foreign teacher who is already working there. If the job is indeed some kind of scam the employer will do their best to make excuses as to why that is not possible. If you are able to speak to another teacher it will put your mind at rest regarding the validity of the job and also provide a perfect opportunity to find out more about the working conditions you can expect if you were to take the job.