Highlighted article: Which international school job fairs do you recommend and the job fair circus!
November 26, 2011
In these two blog entries by Greg Clinton, he discusses the topic of the international school job fairs. He is currently working in the international school community at American Embassy School, New Delhi.
Parts of the two entries we’d like to highlight:
“The international school community is known for relatively high change-over rates in faculty, compared to schools that are rooted in a particular community “back home”.
The most traditional way to get a job overseas is The Job Fair. ”Are you going to the job fairs?” is a question we will all hear and ask more often as the end of the calendar year approaches. But job fairs are expensive to attend and some candidates have to travel thousands of miles, without the guarantee that it will net them a new job. More and more interviews are being conducted over Skype and more connections are being made through online services such as TIE Online’s resume service and databases like the NAIS candidate pools.
Question for administrators: Is it necessary to meet a candidate face-to-face, or can hiring be done effectively over Skype? Also, which job fairs do you prefer, and why?”
As we write this blog entry, some of the staff at International School Community have friends that have already informed us that they have received and accepted offers to work at their next international school. No job fairs were involved, just Skype and over the phone. Also, in a few of the situations, the power of the people you know in the international school community has helped. You work with a director at one international school in Europe and then that director moves to a school in South America. Four years down the road, you find yourself being offered a job at the director’s new school.
It is important to remember not to burn any bridges as you never know what the future may hold in terms of which school you find yourself working at next in your life. Many international school teachers are indeed getting hired more and more over Skype. It just might be the way of the future of getting hired at international schools. Sometimes though it is a bit of fun to go to an international school job fair anyways as you never know what you might find there and who you might interview with at those things. I remember seeing somebody in the elevator at a Search fair and then nine months later seeing them at the same IB conference. We remembered each other just in that brief moment in the elevator!
The job fair that most teachers prefer is the one that cost the least money probably. They all seem to be doing relatively the same format anyways. One key factor though is knowing which international schools go to which job fairs. No good going to one fair when the schools you are most looking at are not going to that fair that year.
“Hiring fairs are where most teachers looking for international teaching jobs line up new positions. Some schools and administrators have been looking elsewhere for their hiring needs, including websites and online databases of candidate information. The International Educator, a “newspaper”/resume bank, is one such stalwart company offering an alternative to job fairs. There are some other upstart websites that charge schools an exorbitant fee to see candidate info, but they won’t last long. Really, it’s all about being face to face.
There are three main institutions that provide the most complete job search settings: Search Associates, International Schools Services, and the University of Northern Iowa. They have their strengths and weaknesses, but they offer a comparable experience.
I attended the Search Associates fair in Bangkok not long ago. It took place in a swank hotel that I couldn’t afford, but I enjoyed wearing my new suit, drinking coffee in the lobby and pretending. There are two things I love about the fair experience, and two things I think are not so great.
Things I love:
Everybody’s there. It’s like a gigantic, international school orgy. The schmooze is thick, and the glad-handing is non-stop, but come on! It’s exciting, you get to meet new people (I personally know two couples who have met at job fairs and gotten married the next year – perhaps Search and ISS should start a teacher match-making service? Something to consider!) and you get to play the hunter or the hunted. Right now, if you’re a decent candidate without a criminal record and no facial tattoos, you are probably one of the hunted. But there are lean years and fat years for teachers. Anyway, there you are, in the ballroom, surrounded by potential bosses all trying to be as nice and smart as possible. You might run into old friends, or you might impress a superintendent and make a contact for later. It’s an extrovert’s dream.
Note passing. Not only are we auditioning for roles as school teachers, but we get to re-live our school days by passing secret love letters in the little bins. What joy when you receive a note saying “I’d LOVE to sit down and chat with you… I’m in room 275.” What heartache when your bin is empty! It’s all so deliciously human. Composing your own notes is equally fun and tense. What tone do I use? Do I want to come across as playful? Professional? Smart? Serious? Do I just let my feelings flow: I’m in love with your school and want to spend the rest of my life with it? Your school completes me? You had me at “2 bedroom apartment”? Or do I hold back, play hard to get?
Things I don’t love:
Being in a stranger’s bedroom. I don’t see a logistical way around this problem, but it’s one of the creepiest parts of the hiring process. Have you ever walked into an interview only to be faced with a pile of dirty clothes or someone’s underwear sticking out of a suitcase, or just a rumpled, used bed? It’s distracting, unsettling. Who was in that bed last night? I don’t really want to be thinking about it, thank you very much. I suppose the lesson is: administrators beware: your hotel room is a direct reflection of you. In other words, arrange your most important interviews over coffee at the restaurant or something.
The cost. This is why more and more candidates are turning to the Interwebs. Search Associates charges something like $600 just to register as a candidate. [Correction: $200 for fair registration, includes one hiring fair. Thanks, Jim.] You’ll have to fly yourself there and back, and the hotels are usually up-scale. A teacher could easily spend a month’s salary or more to attend a fair, and have no guarantee of landing a new position. Schools spend tons to jet their administrators around, and then they pay sizable finders fees to the agencies. Again, I’m not sure I see an easy solution.”
It is a bit weird to be going into a stranger’s bedroom at a hotel. A person can’t get that comfortable in a hotel room I guess. One question: have international schools been using their bedrooms for interviews since the inception of the international school job fair? Seems like there might be a better option. What other industries hold job fairs at hotels?
Indeed there are many things to love and hate about the fairs. Thanks to the Wandering Academic for your excellent insight into the international school job fairs!