The Decision To Use A Placement Organization
The main advantages of using a placement organization, in my view, are that you are likely to have at least a little additional help with arranging things and that you don’t have to worry about not finding a job on your own. Whether or not these things are important enough to outweigh the disadvantages (often having to accept a position before being able to check it out in person and having to work within the parameters of what each organization offers) depend on you.
Many aspects of teaching abroad are difficult for anyone to sort out on their own as a foreigner, not to mention a new teacher. A placement organization will often provide help, but so will many schools. The advantage of a placement organization is that you may have someone to call besides your employer if you need more help, though it would be hard to tell just how much help an agency will give you after you start a job in practice.
Many people do worry about finding a job and don’t want the stress of finding one on their own. The availability of jobs depends on many things, but it is not by any means impossible or necessarily difficult to find a job on your own. While a placement organization may have more of a reputation than an individual school, there is no guarantee that the job you get via an agency is better than one you find on your own. For many people, knowing that they have a job before they leave home is the cincher without which they just wouldn’t go. In this case, go for the placement.
One of the biggest advantages of waiting, though, is that you can check out schools and locations on your own. Someone’s ideal location is someone else’s nightmare, so being able to discover your own impression of a place is important. That said, you will have to adapt and make concessions for any job you take.
If you go with a placement organization, you will have to work within their parameters – you may have to have a flatmate, or work in a public school, or in a limited number of large cities. If you can find an organization that offers what you want, this is not really an issue.
I’m not overly enthusiastic about placement organizations; my own opinion is that they often profit from and sometimes perpetuate people’s lack of knowledge about the situation. That said, so do many language schools and for-profit organizations in the world today, and I realize that the services provided by placement organizations, whether they can be done by individuals on their own or not, are still valuable for many people.
Don’t go with some kind of placement or guaranteed job only because you think you can’t do it on your own; you can. The biggest loss though, would be not to do it at all. So weigh your options and do what works for you.