Having had too many jobs

A friend noted that I have been through a lot of jobs in the past few years. As I will be looking for a new job soon, I know this is a strike against me. It makes me look unstable. I will be getting my APRC in Taiwan soon, which should help out with this a bit, but it won’t totally solve the problem. Does anybody have any suggestions for me when it comes to answering this question at job interviews.
I know there are things that I need to look at. Perhaps I am part of the problem. I need to look at ways to get along with management and do things the way they want me too. But I don’t think I am always wrong. Perhaps I am not the type of person who is designed to be working for somebody else and should be striking out on my own a bit more :ponder: .

Don’t mention all your previous jobs on your resume. Once you’ve established that you’re experienced, you probably don’t need to provide every detail. Just enough to get an interview.

Are you talking about for jobs in Taiwan or somewhere else?

If it’s for Taiwan, in all likelihood, they really won’t care. They’ll want a white face they can push around. They’ll be expecting you to flake out or flip out at some point, and then they’ll be looking for another white face to replace you and won’t even remember your name.

If it’s for abroad, I’d say that it doesn’t matter what you did or for how long, just the total time working at all of the jobs in Taiwan. What I mean is that if your job is basically teaching kids and you’re applying for a job in another field, you’ll have to sell it as life experience, cultural adventure or some such thing. The working time itself is going to be irrelevant. If it’s for a job in education, it’s still going to be irrelevant since unless you’re working in an official institution (government or international school) and already had credentials, then it’s not going to matter. Basically, no one outside of East Asia is going to take “Joyful Make Lucky Bear English School” seriously at all. The important thing is though that you can probably only get away with selling it as life experience, cultural adventure or whatever up to two (three at the outside) years. Beyond that and there’s someone younger and more malleable applying for the same position, or the people your own age have experience in the field. You just end up looking like a flake who bummed around Asia.

Prior to coming to Taiwan, I would have actually taken people who spent time teaching English in Asia a lot more seriously and could have been sold on the life experience or cultural adventure side of it. I realise that’s code for getting drunk and shagging a bunch of hot Asian chicks. Now, if I were an employer in the West and saw that an applicant had been in Taiwan for several years, I’d throw his or her resume straight in the bin. In other words, I’d bin myself. Hell, I’d probably bin anyone who had been teaching English in Taiwan. Sure, not everyone here is a weirdo or loser, but why take the chance?

Harsh? Not harsh enough.

Is it too harsh? I don’t know. You’re probably right about this - I mean that’d I’d trash an application from anyone who’d been teaching English. But I don’t know any of those people who’d be sold on the cultural experience stuff about teaching here. I am regularly labeled an ‘ESL teacher’ in a very disparaging way on unrelated forums outside Asia. I get the feeling that having taught English in Asia generally leaves a bad impression.

ScottSommers: My impression is that even within the broader EFL/ESL community, it’s held in fairly poor esteem.

Its not just ESL. I applied for a couple of media jobs in the UK recently, just to test the water, so to speak. One (The Guardian, for which I even wrote once upon a time) actually asked “but what REAL job experience do you have?” Taiwan simply doesn’t count. Your time here is a black hole, for the most part.

Maybe if ESL teachers acted with a bit of class and professionalism then they wouldn’t be looked down upon and they wouldn’t have such a shitty attitude about themselves.

I’m pretty appalled at the condition of some of the teachers I’ve seen. Flip-flops and a Chang Beer tank top? Really? And that’s the 5-year model teacher.

I am, however, happy to report that a couple of my acquaintances have returned to the West and turned their teaching time over here into ESL teaching time over there. They’ve also turned it into consultancies, very lucrative private tutor work, editing educational materials, work in the tourism and travel industries…

And then there are the rare few who actually learned how to speak the language of the country they were in, plopped that down on their resume and got the appropriate credit for it. A honky who’s relatively fluent in Mandarin (or whatever) doesn’t look so bad for having spent time over here.

As for binning the resumes from former ESL teachers, that’s just short-sighted and dumb. I’ll take an employee who has the chutzpah to go to a foreign country, live and work, get a view of things from a different vantage point and actually experience life over someone fresh out of uni, still living with mom and/or dad, just as much a womanizing alcoholic as anyone teaching ESL, but with his head further up his own back end.

Then you’re a minority.

sandman: Ouch! Black hole indeed.

ell_tee: It’s a feedback loop in Taiwan. They don’t require any EFL/ESL qualifications, only a degree. Even then, I know people who have been working illegally in Taiwan for several years. One guy has been here for about four years now. He doesn’t have a degree. Every month, he goes on a visa run, though he sometimes travels for longer. This means he has been in and out of this country at least forty times and no one has bothered to pull him aside and ask a few questions.

As such, anyone who has a Masters, in an appropriate field, or even a CELTA, is competing with people who are willing to play the race to the bottom, so they go to countries that will provide appropriate pay and other perks. I’ve considered doing a Masters, but it doesn’t make any sense to do it and work in Taiwan. Firstly, online degrees aren’t accepted here. For me to go back to Australia and pay for the Masters and living expenses for a year would be simply cost prohibitive. I’d have to borrow the money and pay interest, or if I sold some of my investments, the loss of capital growth would be even worse. In either case, the extra money I would earn in Taiwan from having a Masters would probably never allow me to catch up to the opportunity cost of actually getting one.

So, short of people doing professional development for the love of it, it’s a losing battle here. Even for some of the more mature Westerners in Taiwan who want to build a reasonable life here and aren’t here to party, they still can’t compete with someone fresh off the boat who is willing to work for rock bottom wages and poor working conditions for a couple of years as an adventure before buggering off elsewhere and getting serious.

Thus, the image of English teachers as irresponsible bums here is constantly reinforced because no one here is willing to pay for quality, or even a decent living wage here (at least compared to the West).

I’m slightly shielded from it working in the public system, but as a financial decision, staying in Taiwan is not the best option. I’m probably going to be here for several more years yet simply because I quite like where I live now and my wife is Taiwanese, so it would be a big adjustment to chase the money and quite possibly both be foreigners in another country, but I am incurring a loss by doing that.

I don’t know about Australia but there are many jobs in the US that only require a degree as well. I am not sure what your point is. I guess if one is applying for a teaching job it may matter but I don’t know that it has much influence for non-teaching jobs.

Furthermore some English teachers in Taiwan learn Mandarin, write books, and do manage to do things that might look good on your resume back home.

Then you’re a minority.[/quote]

I cannot speak for British, Canadians or Australians but I believe that most Americans would just find such a person to be odd.

Then you’re a minority.[/quote]

I cannot speak for British, Canadians or Australians but I believe that most Americans would just find such a person to be odd.[/quote]
Not to mention possibly a bit flaky, quite apart from having been out of the job market for a bit too long. Out of the loop and possibly a gadabout likely to bail at a moment’s notice and head off someplace sunny rather than contenting himself with the delights of smalltown life and the possibility of a weekend trip to Ikea.
Not, in other words, a very alluring employment proposition.

Yes, unless your trying for a job as an Asian consultant for some huge company, maybe, Americans don’t like a lot of foreign experience on a resume. When I first went back, I had to re-write mine for the Americans and make it more about my formal education and life experience than anytihng else. People were really confused and unable to relate to anything outside their own experience, so international work experience just made them feel uneasy.

I worked at a large English teaching centre attached to a major Australian univeristy. There were over 20 full-time staff, almost all of whom had overseas teaching exerience in East Asia, SE Asia, Middle East, and Europe. There was only one (as far I know) who had not taught overseas. My colleagues tended to be people with a wide variety of interests - e.g., music, books, philosophy, etc - in other words, the kind of people who can’t support themselves through their main interests, but teach English simply because, as native speakers, they can, and they need to support themselves somehow. I think many of us fall into that category. (I, for example, love Sanskrit literature, but how can I make a living from that?)

Maybe it’s different with Americans, but I think Australians who go off and teach English in Asia for a few years are not flaky, weidos or losers. Maybe those who come back and continue to do it in Australia are not a representative sample. But they’re more interesting company that the typical Aussie who thinks overseas means Bali.

Furthermore, in my view, if a foreign (male) English teacher did not take advantage of the cheap beer and the willingness of a certain percentage of the female population the get into bed with a foreigner, THAT would be the sign of a weirdo or a loser. (As long as it is done in moderation, of course.)

Furthermore, in my view, if a foreign (male) English teacher did not take advantage of the cheap beer and the willingness of a certain percentage of the female population the get into bed with a foreigner, THAT would be the sign of a weirdo or a loser. (As long as it is done in moderation, of course.)[/quote]

I give the guy who goes and shags Asian women a lot more credit than the below average guy shagging heifers back home.

The funny thing is that if one is at a university in the US one doesn’t need to go to Asia to find Asian girls. I used to date Asian girls at my university back home.

Teachers in Taiwan get paid pretty well, don’t they? At least they did when I used to do it. Now I earn probably 2/3 of what an FOB teacher makes (although my income is highly variable month to month) and live fairly well, so I don’t know how you can say no one is paying a decent living wage.

[quote]I give the guy who goes and shags Asian women a lot more credit than the below average guy shagging heifers back home.

Heifers are better than cows. Don’t quote me on that out of context.

Most English teaching jobs in Australia require overseas experience or favor it (especially Asia experience). On the other hand, they have many other demands, too.

adikarmika: What sort of qualifications and experience did they have though? I suspect they all had some sort of ESL/EFL qualifications (even if only CELTA) and had worked in places a little more serious than the average buxiban or kindergarten in Taiwan. If someone works in an adult language centre, university, etc., that’s a whole different kettle of fish. I should have been more specific. Someone who works at a buxiban, and especially a kindergarten, can only be claiming to teach English in the loosest of senses though.

cfimages: It depends upon your definition of pretty well. Let’s say someone is earning 80,000NTD/month (which is definitely towards the upper end, and I don’t get that working in the MOE programme, though I do get airfares and paid holidays). What’s the tax rate, it’s about 10% I think (more at the start of the year, less later in the year, but they get some back)? So they’re taking home 72,000NTD/month. Let’s say their standard living expenses, not including holidays, run to $30,000NTD/month, which would mean they’d be living better than the average person here, but still having to be fairly careful about their money. My wife and I live off less than that, but we also live in the countryside rather than a big city, and we’re pretty frugal. So they pocket 40,000NTD/month (which comes out at 16,320USD/year). This does not, however, include having a family. It does not include lost income from taking holidays (because they’re – including national holidays – not paid in the average job here). It does not include having to pay to visit relatives in the West. It does not include any sort of retirement scheme. It does not include saving for kids’ university studies in the future.

It’s certainly better than what the average person gets here, but that’s not saying much. If you plan to have a family it’s not really a living wage unless you also plan to send your kids to a fifth rate Taiwanese university (because even the best universities in Taiwan don’t rate anywhere near anything that any employer elsewhere in the world would take seriously) and have them support you in retirement (which, for a buxiban teacher is much earlier than 65).

Okay, so upgrade your skills, I hear you say. I looked into doing a Masters at the University of Melbourne. It would cost me 16,000AUD (16,552USD) for a one year programme. Online degrees are not accepted here in Taiwan though, so I’d have to go there to do it. That would mean two things. Firsly, higher living expenses, and secondly, lost income from Taiwan. If I take the saved income per year here (as per above) of 16,320USD and add a very, very frugal 5,000USD/year (which would still mean living with my parents, despite being 35 and married, so obviously, it’s not a realistic scenario, but imagine I’m 24 and single), and then add the 16,552USD in tuition fees, I’m 37,872USD, or 1,113,323NTD, in the hole. Let’s even forget about me having to pay interest on a loan for that or the opportunity cost of not having that money invested if I already have/had it. For the average job here, having a Masters is not going to make a difference at all in terms of pay. The two kinds of jobs it will make a difference in are in the MOE programme or working at a university. The pay rates I’ve seen for universities aren’t great (though there are reportedly other perks), but I can’t remember them accurately, so I won’t comment further there. In the MOE programme, having a Masters increases your pay by about 7,000-8,000NT/month. So, 1,113,323NTD divided by 8,000NTD/month is 139 months, or twelve years just to make up the tuition fees, living costs and lost income. Yet that’s without paying interest on a loan or losing investment growth/income. If we look at it like that, the 8,000NTD/month extra income might never catch up.

I don’t know about working in Australia/Canada/U.S. with a Masters in ESL/EFL or working in Europe, but if I were to go and work in the Persian Gulf or Brunei, my income would immediately be multiplied by 1.5-2.0 based upon the figures I’ve seen and been told. Obviously, it would be significantly higher if I had a Masters. The cost of living is probably higher also, though not 1.5-2.0 times higher from what I’ve read (because accomodation is provided). So, the question becomes, why would I go and get a Masters to work in Taiwan given a) I would probably never catch up financially, b) I could earn significantly more (not to mention the holidays, accomodation, additional airfares, etc.) elsewhere?

Okay, strike out on my own. That might be high reward, but it’s also high risk, so that’s very far from a certain career path.

So no, it’s not a living wage/salary for a guy in his thirties who is looking to start a family within a couple of years. In my case, things are different to a lot of people because I already have a considerable amount of money invested, live frugally and am adding to the money I already have invested. I’ll probably be quite okay in ten years. Plus, my wife and I quite like where we’ve moved to and have a fairly chilled job (my wife doesn’t work) and lifestyle. The average English teacher here is not in either position (financial or living locale/lifestyle).

Frankly, I don’t know how the average Taiwanese person does it here, which is why many of my wife’s friends or my friends either don’t have kids and still live with their parents well into their thirties, struggle to have one child both in terms of time and money, or flee abroad on working holidays, hoping to eventually be allowed to stay in Australia, New Zealand or elsewhere. They’d rather do that than go back to grinding it out for 30,000-40,000NTD (after ten years, of course) while their one and only kid does his homework under the fluorescent lights of a buxiban lobby because his parents are still working/wining and dining with the boss or clients/travelling at 9:00pm or has to live with his grandparents in Miaoli or some other random nowhere county and only sees his parents on weekends if he’s lucky. That’s why I say comparing a foreign English teacher to the average person here is not really a comparison. I think the work/life balance is way the fuck out of kilter in this country. It’s slightly less way the fuck out of kilter for English teachers (most of whom will not be at home when their kids are at home and awake during the week because they’re working the dreaded split-shift).

The whole economic and demographic system in this country is a giant ponzi scheme that is going to collapse Madoff style within the next generation unless it’s seriously rethought and any foreigner who is not tied to this place (usually through marriage) will be like rats deserting a sinking ship.

Furthermore, in my view, if a foreign (male) English teacher did not take advantage of the cheap beer and the willingness of a certain percentage of the female population the get into bed with a foreigner, THAT would be the sign of a weirdo or a loser. (As long as it is done in moderation, of course.)[/quote]

seriously that’s just wrong, shagging just cos you can?!