I get a lot of questions of how I found the jobs I have.

Some, I found traditionally – through online sources I have listed on this page:  For Jobseekers in Japan.

Lately, however, because I am picky and angry at the companies who try to nickle and dime the what-they-assume-to-be-naive-and-desperate teachers (I’m just desperate, not naive! lmao), I have found that word of mouth is the best way to find a job.

Whenever I join camps and there’s a mixed group of teachers – Europeans, North Americans, Filipinos – I find that Filipinos tend to huddle with each other. Maybe it feels awkward to mix with the others, maybe it’s the “clannish- ness” of  Filipino culture – but if you’re reading this and want some advice – don’t do that. Mingle with the others. Expand your network.

True story A : I went on to this camp with 30 others teachers. Granted, I was the only Filipino so there was no “home group” to huddle with (And even then, I don’t). But I met some really awesome people – a French guy who told me about Company A. French Guy was awesome – we went out and had a drink or two. He was also a great French teacher (hadn’t spoken French for a long time) but the most important thing was, he hooked me up with his recruiter at  Company A. I sent in my resume to Company A, who started including me in their mailing list of job offers after reviewing my CV. I pestered them for about two months, but it was obvious they only wanted to offer me the jobs that nobody else would take – that meant last minute job offers (like on the day or the next day) because I hadn’t “proven” myself – that is , they didn’t know how reliable I was. I was persistent – like literally asking them to take me on for practically every job offer sent through their mailing list. (Even if they didn’t take me, I think it was important that they keep seeing my name appear on their mailbox..Familiarity..) I finally landed on regular gig that spans 3 months. Fine, it was just once a week, but the pay was JPY5,000 an hour. And it was perfect, considering my mantra is minimum-energy-maximum-pay. (Having said that, no, I don’t half-ass my job. I don’t give my least effort — It’s just that teaching English is wayyyyyy less energy-intensive than working in the kitchen and actually pays 5x more). Now that I had my foot in the door, I wasn’t going to blow it – I was there on time, I was dressed properly and I did my lessons quite well. (If I may say so) . I think the important things are :

  1. Turn up when you say you would. Honor your commitments.
  2. Don’t be late.
  3. Be professional
  4. Submit your reports on time.
  5. Try to get as much details as you can as possible about the job and say NO when you don’t like it. (If you’re desperate for a job though, this can come later when you have established yourself with the company)

It did take some time – almost two months of persistent emailing them to get ONE job. And even then I had to call the French guy to ask his recruiter why the company refused to me give me any jobs. Yes, have a thick skin if you need to and use your connections..

Now, just yesterday Company A offered me another job that entails working with 7 other teachers. I was A) the only Filipino B) the only female. I proceeded to get the info of two teachers (who sat next to me) as much as I could so I could network. Latin American Man started talking to me about scholarships for MA and PHD (which is also useful, if you want to get tips on how to land that prized scholarship anywhere in the world) and British man started talking to his contacts about jobs to get me on board. The important thing was, he started vouching for me. I wasn’t going to ruin that.

In exchange, the jobs I can’t do that pay around JPY2,500 at least for 7 hours (that’s 17,500 plus transportation !) I passed on to the British Man. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.

Understand that in this world of English teaching, where Japanese schools are trying to squeeze every ounce of you for the minimum YEN, teachers have to band together. And teachers come from all over the world – not necessarily from your country. It’s teachers vs these companies. We have to have each other’s back.

When you get a chance to work with other teachers — it doesn’t matter where they are from—network. A lot of the good, well-paid jobs are through networks only. They are NOT published.  And it helps a lot if someone in the company is already vouching for you!!!  

And when you are given the chance, even if it’s just a one-shot gig, don’t blow it. Not for your sake, not for the person who vouched for you. Otherwise no one will recommend you anymore and your job offers will dwindle. Be reliable.

**Featured image from Google. Used without permission.