Applying to EPIK: Recruiters vs Direct

Applying to Korea can get a bit tricky with the amount of paperwork you have to do. For this reason, some people like to go through a recruiter. The most common question we get about our recruiter is if we pay them. No, no we do not. And if you are out there about to write a check to a “recruiter” we would strongly advise you to put that pen down. No recruiter, for any reason should be asking you for money. The other option besides applying to a recruiter is to apply to EPIK directly.

Why apply directly?

Obviously recruiters can be awesome. But many people have a huge problem with recruiters. The biggest reason is applying directly means you get interviewed, accepted, and placed faster. Sometimes significantly faster – like weeks or even a month before everyone else. This is just plain convenient and can get you a job before others.

Employees at EPIK will still help you with questions, problems with paperwork and taking care of last minute details but you are really on your own (which may be perfect for you) when you compare a direct application to a recruiter.


Faster application, interviews, placement, NOAs. Aka get a job before everyone else.

Less chance of being wait listed

More access to asking questions on their facebook page.


Instant rejection – recruiters can sometimes argue on your behalf.

Why go through a Recruiter?

The whole idea of a recruiter is to

  1. channel you in the right direction – this could be recommending other programs or even private schools (in the end, though, do your research). In our case, GEPIK looked like it was failing and our recruiter channeled us away from GEPIK to EPIK. Later when we were wait listed, she kept an eye out for private positions and other GEPIK positions.
  2. be your backup. Jackie, from her blog, “Good Morning, Korea” was almost rejected from EPIK for migraine headaches. Her recruiter worked for  2 weeks to see what they could do to ensure she could still go to EPIK. In the end, she was able to work with her doctor and a Korean doctor from afar evaluated the migraine situation and determined it would not affect her teaching.
  3. Proofread your stuff – our Korean recruiter helped us out by having us change a few things so it would look good in other Koreans’ eyes. This was incredibly helpful and probably helped us to get the job.

Recruiters get paid for the people they represent. This can be a good thing because they really, really want you to get accepted. For this reason recruiters usually answer questions quickly and nag ask frequently how the paperwork process is going.

From what we’ve read,  EPIK will set aside X many jobs for recruiters to fill. So applying directly to EPIK does not guarantee you a job any more than a recruiter does. If anything, having a recruiter can often lead you to getting a job because your essay/lesson plan could have been bad or paperwork could have been filled out incorrectly and thus EPIK may have passed right over it or denied you an interview.


Always on top of things because of nagging recruiters

Aggressive representation

Proofreading gods


Can push you into a direction you don’t want to go (bait and switch, etc)

While EPIK sets X jobs aside for recruiters to fill, if more people applied to EPIK and were accepted than X is reduced. You’re technically getting second pickings of jobs and have a chance of not getting accepted/not getting your first choice.


You should consider a recruiter if…

  • You are unorganized or nervous about the process.
  • If you are currently in a TEFL class and thus have not learned to lesson plan yet (our recruiter pointed out some flaws in the lesson plan because we were in this boat)
  • You have been out of school for a while and don’t remember how to write essays (recruiters will double check these)
  • You are worried about being rejected. There are plenty of horror stories online of people being rejected for small health details, their accents or the way they look. Recruiters cannot always come to your rescue but they could help/try.

You would probably be fine applying directly if…

  • You are very organized.
  • You are a teacher/have completed your TEFL certification (thus you can write lesson plans well)
  • You are a college/university student and you have access to things like”writing centers” and “career services”- these guys can help proofread everything and/or help you practice for interviews.
  • You have been to Korea/understand Korean values and understand how best to approach the application process.  

But the internet hates recruiters…

Any and every recruiter out there has many complaints against them. Here are some of them circulating all over the internet ranging from the common to the strange…

  • someone’s recruiter quit 4 months ago and they were never notified about it, when they emailed to ask for a new representative, they were told they would hear back in 2-3 months
  • the recruiter interviewing someone laughed at how low their credentials were then hung up on the applicant during the interview
  •  different representative every time they emailed with questions (the applicant was not assigned to just one recruiter)
  • sent me to a bad Hagwon (private school) OR pressured Hagwons incessantly until the applicant just went for it.
  • arrived in Korea without a job (seems unlikely with EPIK)


Here’s the recruiters EPIK officially lists on their site:

Canadian Connections Canada
Educon U.S.A.
ESLstarter U.K.
Footprints Recruiting Canada
Goldkey Education South Africa
Gone2Korea Canada
Korean Horizons Korea
Korvia Consulting Korea
Reach to Teach Recruiting Taiwan
Teach Away Canada

Remember you never have to go through the recruiter from your country, just whichever one seems better to you.

Who do we recommend?

Since being wait-listed once, trying to apply everywhere else, and then applying again, we’ve worked with many recruiters.

Of the approved EPIK recruiters we’ve worked with Korvia, Korean Horizons, and Footprints. We had very bad experiences with footprints and not so good with Korean Horizons. Korvia has been strange but has worked out, especially when we couldn’t switch to direct.

How to apply to a recruiter


  1. Pick a recruiter
  2. Apply to them so that they can choose whether or not they want to represent you. The application is usually no worse than any other job application and it is practice for exactly what you will be seeing when you apply to EPIK.
  3. Interview with recruiter. Our interview consisted of many questions relating to what little teaching experience we have, how our studying abroad should help us in the future, why did we pick our recruiter, why did we pick South Korea over other Asian countries, what do you know/like about Korea, etc.
  4. Accepted or denied. Almost always people are accepted and you will be given further information of what documents to collect and what happens next.



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