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Are you ready? The international school recruitment fair season is a few weeks away! (A Search Associates fair experience)

December 22, 2011


Highlighted firsthand-account of what it was like for this international school teacher at a Search Associates recruitment fair in San Francisco:

“Many people have asked my process of applying to teach overseas and so I will share my experiences, typical or not.  The first step, of course, was research.  Finding out what the schools that interested me considered a priority revealed that they are different in their own region.  Carefully reading the different mission statements not only showed priorities, but also gave me direction in my cover letters which needed to be outstanding.  Some schools stressed academic achievement, others developing the whole child but almost all emphasized a global perspective.  Mediocrity was not a part of any, it was super high expectations the whole way.

Each cover letter that I sent was specifically targeted with carefully chosen words that reflected my interpretation of the schools’ intent.  I connected my skills to what they required, my educational philosophy to theirs and used as many “teacher words” as I could.  The format was strictly old school business formal with the date written as day, month and year rather than the western style of month, day, year.  My first attempt to cut and paste resulted in an incomplete sentence and the wrong date being sent to a prospective employer so I decided to recreate each one.  Yes, that took a lot of time.  Yes, it was worth it.

International resumes are referred to as CV’s; Curriculum Vitae.  Many things are different from American resumes, including a recent photo, just a simple head shot, and both your age and marital status, believe it or not.  Think full disclosure.

I signed with a recruiter, Search Associates, to access their data banks of detailed information of teacher packages and recommendations, as well as the semi-security of a having an informed professional to ask questions and anticipate any possible problems.  The fee was $200 and the school has to pay the recruiter a larger fee, I believe it is $1200.  It was worth it.  This also gave me an invitation to the Search Associates International Teaching Fair in California this past February.  More about the teaching fair in another post – it was an experience, that’s for sure.

Reading the school’s websites was crucial to understanding exactly how to apply.  Some wanted a cover letter and cv, some had an online application form, others would only review applicants through one of the recruiters.  No matter what the route, I put effort into making each sentence, each question answered, the best possible.  High level schools are looking for teachers with high level skills and an incorrect subject-verb agreement or misspelled word will definitely stand out – negatively.

Part of my process was my notebook.  I kept track of each letter, each response and tons of printed information of the schools I had applied, in addition to a chart comparing things like salary, contract length, etc.  Without it, I would have been lost and confused.

Remember timing.  International school are actively hiring January through March.  Are you ready?”

Check out the over 100 comments and information about international schools and their hiring policies and other recruitment fair information about a variety of international schools on International School Community’s website.