The dreaded ‘P’-word

The first step in applying to teach in Korea: PAPERWORK!! 

You decided that  you are going to KR, and you are going soon. Sorry to burst your bubble. Soon is not in the vocabulary of applying for documents in RSA. Our lovely Department of Home Affairs are overworked, the queues are long and slow and they close at 12h00 on Saturdays, and don’t open at all on Sundays. The SAPS (South African Police Service) take months, not weeks like it claims on the website. Don’t even mention the fact that if you are a Capetonian you have no direct access to DIRCO or Department of Higher Education; you need to courier all your Documents to Pretoria. So you read thousands of blogs already, but most of them use terms like ‘CRC’ and FBI- clearance…and you don’t live in Canada or the USA. You know you need some stuff, but you are completely unsure what, where and how to proceed. So let’s start at the very beginning.

Check if you qualify to teach in South Korea:

  • Degree in any BA field of study.
  • TEFL/ESL certification. You can do this course online. Groupon is your friend on this one 🙂
  • Clean criminal record
  • You must be a resident of South Africa
  • Proof of English schooling if you want to teach at a Korean Public school, not needed if you take the Hagwon (private school) route. (More about this later)
  • Passport, at least valid for another two years.
  • At least R10 000 to survive your first month in KR
  • At least R10 000 for your plane ticket (which will be reimbursed)
  • Approximately R3000 for all your documentation

If you are reading on, I guess that you qualify and want to know how to get the process started? Good.

Grab a pen and paper, you will want to write this down.

1) Start by getting your documents ready, before even approaching a recruiter. The reason why I am saying this is that the recruiters will put a lot of pressure on you after you made contact, and sometimes pressure can motivate, but most of the time it causes stress, which causes Cortisol to be released, which causes cloudy thinking and bad judgement calls. So don’t jump the gun be approaching a recruiter first. Start with the paperwork, and approach them when you are good to go. I will do a future post on recruiters.

2) The SAPS clearance certificate takes by far the longest to apply for. I applied in October, and received it in February the following year. My previous applications took anything from 5 – 15 weeks (due to the nature of my job I had to apply for this annually). Be very specific when you apply. There are two kinds of clearance certificate. The one, a ‘name clearance’ is to check if you have any criminal cases open against you, or a criminal record in the Province where you reside. It is also much cheaper than the one you need to apply for. You need to apply for the National Clearance Certificate. This costs about R100 (currently), depending where you reside. This application is sent to the SAPS head offices in Pretoria, where it will get processed, and returned to your home address. Be sure that you give the correct address, and to send the application via registered post. Keep the proof of payment for the application and postage, should you need to follow up.

3) In the meantime, get sealed academic transcripts from the University you attended, as well as two English Copies of your Degree. Keep this safe. You will use this again after receiving back your SAPS clearance.

4) Work on your resume and cover letter. I will do a post on tips and tricks and how to ‘Koreanize’ your CV.

5) Go for a photoshoot. Yes, I did just say that. You will be asked by the recruiters to supply them and the schools with a headshot, and full body shot photo of yourself in professional attire. I tried to take the photo’s myself and failed miserably. So just spare yourself all the effort and go for a quick photoshoot. It took  10 minutes for me and hubby at the Stellenbosch University Photographer. R260 for both, which included ID photos (you will need a lot of those), three head shots and three full body shots.

6) Make an introduction video. This one was quick and fun to do. I used free online software, Wevideo and uploaded it to Youtube. Make sure that your URL link is working by emailing it to a friend to review. I will do a later post on a video script, and how you should dress. Remember to add the youtube link  on your resume.

7) If your passport is outdated, or expiring soon – go to the Department of Home Affairs immediately to apply for a new one. At the same time get an unabridged copy of your marriage certificate (if this applies to you). You can skip the long lines by driving out to one of the smaller home affairs offices in the area surrounding your city/suburb. Phone beforehand to check the times and days they’re open- it differs from town to town.

Okay…that’s enough to keep you busy for at least a month. I’ll keep posting, just check in when you are done with the seven steps mentioned above.

Look forward to see the following posts soon:

  1. What to do with my documents?
  2. How to make an introduction video
  3. How to ‘Koreanize’ my CV/Resume
  4. How to pick between public and private schools?
  5. How to choose a recruiter or agency which suits you.
  6. How to pack and other useful tips

*quick tip: Get yourself a box and label it. Place all things Korea-related in it. That way you don’t have to stress that something will get lost, or even worse – spill coffee on it or have it eaten by your puppies!

April/May 2016


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