5 ways to get away from teaching English

My time spent teaching English in Moscow was OK I suppose, I mean it's not exactly the hardest work out there. In fact, for most of us that arrive here by choice, teaching English is like a rite of passage, something like paying your dues and yet when I think about TEFL, I think of the Queen song 'I want to break free'.

                                                                              Fred knew the deal

Sure, it's easy to start out teaching as your first job when you arrive here (unless you've been sent by your company), but it's not so easy to find other work, which leads many to the question: how do i get a job that isn't teaching English??

Well, I did and so did a bunch of people I know. Here's how:

1) Learn Russian to a decent standard.

While not every job will require this, you'd be doing yourself a massive favor since being bilingual can help you achieve a higher salary and creative a favorable impression on Russians. They respect the work and effort you made - my Russian has opened endless doors for me.

Since the majority of expats don't know Russian, or speak it so badly that it doesn't count (you know who you are!), your knoledge sets you apart from the crowd. Speaking good Russian is almost like a niche market because so few do it well.

Also, having two languages is something that always looks good on your CV, wherever you are.

If you are planning on being here for a long time and can't speak proper Russian, you won't be able to get a job outside of teaching and editing, period. Sure, if you are a big shot executive with a wealth of business experience, then it's a different matter, but people like this aren't usually floating around without work - they get invited to work and consult in other countries.

2) Evaluate the next options - translating and editing

The next two most common jobs are translating and editing, both, for me at least, were about as fulfilling as being punched in the face daily by a disgruntled babushka (as if there was any other kind). At least with translation you get to keep learning new words which is a plus. 

Translating and editing is something I see as the next step toward getting away from typical 'native speaker' jobs.
If you are an editor and you speak Russian, you should command more of a salary, if you don't, then you probably aren't marketing yourself enough.

Once at this stage, you can take advantage of the stable pay and work permit and target a place where you want to move next - it could be a promotion to head translator, or it could be a move to a bank editing job that pays more money. Whatever the case, this is where you plan your next move

3) Make contacts 

Nepotism has always been a big thing in Russia and so is hooking your friends up with jobs, thus my advice here is to suck your way to the top.

Just kidding, kind of...

What you need to do is meet people, but I don't mean just to use them for jobs. Just have a social life made up of different people so you can hear of any jobs going, or get recommended for things, keep yourself on the pulse.
This can be as simple as hanging out at a local bar or speaking to people in the gym or whatever. You never know the kind of people you might meet.

One of my best friends here had an almost magic habit of getting offered jobs while hanging out and drinking beer - from editing to teaching, to translating on movies sets. How? because one expat in the bar happened to work for Sony.

So cast aside any autistic, hermit instincts you might have, and go meet some people. Staying in your apartment cruising midget porn won't generate any job offers.

4) Look everywhere !

First up, keep an eye on what job are popping up on the most popular forums (expat.ru and redtape.ru), but keep in mind that the competition there is fierce . Most jobs are the usual teaching etc, but different things can pop up all the time. I once got a very nice freelance translation gig from expat.ru - before the crisis pooped all over it of course.

Keep track of the ads in papers like the Moscow Times (that's how I found my current sweet little gig).

Register on sites like job.ru and hh.ru (short for headhunter ) and apply to things daily. Really blast your CV around and make sure it looks good. Play the numbers game and apply for everything and anything that you see.

5) Be prepaid to buy a work permit

When you start looking at different employment opportunities with Russian companies, a lot of them probably won't want to employ you officially since that means a lot of hassle. So, they might want you - and for a good price - but not  officially.

Naturally your business visa that runs out everything three months (unless you're American and can take advantage of the new visa law) so you'll need to find a place to buy a work permit. I wrote about this a long-ass time ago when I myself was still buying work permits, you can read about it here
My friend has been doing this for years now, so it's actually quite stable.

You'll probably have to be pretty intent on staying in Russia to go for that last option though.

While some of this advice might seem like common sense, there really are no magic bullets to getting a good job here. You'll need persistence, some luck and some contacts, but I know some good success stories.

One expat I knew spoke no Russian, yet landed himself a job at some weird invention / innovation company, I'm not sure what he did, but I know he was getting paid around 150,000 roubles per month for it and it was nothing to do with his degree.
Some weird job opportunities pop up around here from time to time.

So, go register, socialize and attack the job market!

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