Applying for over 200 jobs did have me getting a little desperate. I think in my final months I applied to be a librarian with the Brisbane City Council – which in this messed up world of certifications I am underqualified for… sigh.
Another sign of desperation was I applied for an ESL job.
I was avoiding Japan this time – I was pursuing genuine science opportunities there – and even received some sort of positive response from Piero Carninci’s Bioinformatics lab in Yokohama – but by that stage I had my Quantum Scientific job – and really could not be hassled to move all the way to Japan. Moving to Sydney is already being hassle enough.
Instead I opted for China (Olympics and Communism, how could I lose?). I applied for an interesting ad on SEEK that was asking for not just English teachers, but Science/ESL teachers. I thought this would be a great way to sneak into Science Education without further study.
Pretty soon I got a response from a Dr Charles “Li” Chen at the Shanghai Yulun Education Group, saying how happy they would be to accept me.
Now, especially after having some negative experiences myself working overseas, I am consider myself aware of flags concerning dodgy deals and scams. Several flags went up as soon as I got this email.
(continued below the fold – zayzayem would like to stress that I am NOT suggesting Shanghai Yulun is a scam, just that anyone considering them may wish to research the school further and be clear on their contract arrangements – as they should when considering any job in their native country but especially abroad – consider this cautionary scenario)
Further disclaimer: By the stage I had Charles’ email I was on very positive roll with Quantum. My disinterest at this point, combined with the offered salary and the following flags, I merely told him I was no longer interested in this opportunity.
The first flag was the speed in Charles’ reply. I think it was less than 24 hours, at most 48. Generally I have been waiting around 3 days minimum before getting responses from advertisers. I waited I think 5 months for a post-interview response from the Dept of Health and Ageing, which I think holds the record out of those who have actually responded to my applications. Speedy replies can either make you seem interested, or just needy and desperate.
The second flag was Charles’ email address – it was an @gmail address. Now Shyulun has its own domain. Why would a recruiter, who is obviously directly involved in the company*, need to be using an external (free) email host?
This was sufficient enough for me to invoke the web monkeys at google to do some further investigationing.
But you will find that Google does have quite an absence on information apart from duplicate ads for studying or teaching opportunities “1 of the biggest ESL and English language organizations in Shanghai“. I think I can count that as another flag.
Two non-advertisement hits were a forum post requesting further information on the group.
The other was wild warning about the group on the forum discussion board ESL Teachers Board website. The original post has since been removed by the poster, possibly for violating the board’s policy against nasty bitter smear attacks by ex-employees. The gist of it was that Charles/Charlie/Li/C/Chen doctorate or no doctorate was dirty rotten bastard who would stooge you for all you were worth. Safe to say, while I understand any ESL company can piss of at least one forum savvy employee, this became another little flag in my collection.
Remnants of the thread can be found from a reply by Chen Li himself (yes all these name changes are yet another flag) repeating a fairly standard ‘all terms of the contract were abided by’ response followed swiftly by blaming the teacher and playing victim himself “who is really greedy!?” and finished off by claiming his company is very professional, and manages to keep other employees happy. This response is not a flag. It’s fairly understandable, and was actually fairly well written. I have seen far more scathing responses by equally bitter employers on their bitter employees’ rants.
The other remains is an independent party response, which can give you an idea of what the original post included:
You have my full sympathy if “C.” is the really the kind of crook as you describe.
But what does his doctoral degree to do with it? That person might be the same kind of crooks even without such or any degree.
Anyway,it is good that you are telling us!
Good luck! —Turnoi, 28 June 2008 – School and Recruiter Reviews, ESL Teachers board.
In another world, where I was still stuck in Yeppoon working at Rydges, I may have been still desperate enough to ignore these flags (which individually may be ignored on good faith). Maybe I could have been happily teaching science to little Chinese kids on meagre pay right now instead of freaking out about the high price of accomodation in Sydney.
But I can’t help think I may have dodged a bullet (or at least a shuriken) – especially after Weird Asia News published this piece the very next week. Being stranded in China on a bad contract is not where I would like to be.
*back in 2004 I discussed another Chinese job opportunity before choosing Amity. My contact was using an @yahoo.com.au address. This did not phase me so much as he was merely a local contact for recruitment, and not necessarily directly affiliated with the institute.
(Image credit: Wikimedia, I think. Now, does that make this post GNU liscenced?)