I was recently asked a very intelligent question...so intelligent that I'm answering in the form of a thread here.
The question was "OK, Raoul, you don't want us to use recruiters...so how do
we find jobs, then?"
So, let's look at some things you can do to find that job...
...but first, some general comments.
When approaching this, try to keep in mind that, no matter what it's like back home, teaching English in China is still a seller's market. The margin is thinning, but there are still more jobs than acceptable teachers...YOU are the scarce community. The odds are extremely good that you're going to find a job, especially if you're from a Big 6 Country (USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland) and, preferably, Caucasian.
So...relax. Take your time, shop carefully, and hold out for a job you're satisfied with.
Corollary to this: Don't be in a hurry. I know you're really excited about going to China- and well you should be!- but don't let that excitement become desperation in the job search, that leads you to a sub-optimal placement or even an overtly abusive situation. Be patient, and nail down a promising job before you pack those bags. Don't grab a bad job just for the sake of getting here.
When you get here, your experience is going to be better if you don't have a horrible job, right? RIGHT?
OK, here's the main way I know to find a job yourself, without a recruiter...
1) Hie thee to the internet!
There are LOTS of places that list Chinese teaching jobs. You'll find a good start in our Links section...and not just in the "Job Listing Sites" area...many of the other links also contain job ads. You can also Google something like "teach english china" and raise a whole galaxy of sites with listings.
Sites like Dave's ESL Cafe and TEFL.com and eslteachersboard.com are well-known for having large numbers of job listings for teachers in China. Do go there and look 'em over, but don't make the mistake of confining your search to only sites like these. It's been my experience that the best jobs are found in local sites
...places like The Beijinger or AsiaXpat.com's Shanghai site, and their counterparts in other cities, not the internationally-oriented sites I mentioned earlier. Local sites' jobs are more oriented to people already in China, but you might find that the differences in salaries more than enough to offset the cost of an air ticket. Meanwhile, the international sites like Dave's and TEFL are more oriented to people that are not yet in China...and therefore don't realize what a lousy deal they're getting.
It's a matter of sitting down at the computer and searching through the sites you decide you like, as the new listings continue to come in. Read the ads carefully, and if you like what you see, respond to the ad and find out more. Of course, you want to steer clear of any ads from recruiters, but you'll also find plenty of jobs advertised directly by the schools. If you mistakenly respond to a recruiter ad (Not always easy to tell...some are pretty sneaky about it. References to multiple schools are one of many signs you learn to look for...), once you find out, just stop communicating. Don't answer their e-mails, etc. If you're not sure, ASK...then act accordingly.
You CAN do this. You really can. One of the worst aspects of recruiters is that they aren't really necessary in the first place.
2) Network with other expats.
Go to the places where the expats hang out...you'll find that many of them often know of real or potential job openings (not to mention the local schools to avoid), and will be glad to point you on or wave you away as the case may be.
Not in China? You can still do this! The Saloon is also a place where the expats hang out, and any of us here should be happy to help if we can...and we cover a lot of cities.
And if you're here, don't forget that Chinese folks can also sometimes lead you to jobs. Just being open, friendly, and polite is a good start. You don't have to speak Chinese to be friendly. I know of plenty of stories where chance encounters in a restaurant or something have led to a job offer.
These approaches have led all or most of us to our jobs. They'll work for you, too. You just have to spend a little time and effort...eventually it's going to pay off for you.
One thing I DON'T recommend is using most resume-listing sites. You're just opening yourself up to massive bombardment by recruiters.
But let me please repeat: YOU CAN DO THIS. It's just not that hard, usually. You really don't need a recruiter to do this for you.