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“Nine Lessons Learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.
8. “Courtesy is cool, good will is good stuff.”
“When it came down to thinking I’d be choosing between two very attractive schools, I told one of them how I hoped that saying ‘no’ this time, if the decision went that way, wouldn’t close the door to a ‘yes’ next time in years to come. The gentlemanly answer of the man I said this to was so winsome, I don’t know what to say, other than that it made me want to work in this man’s school even more. The answer was no less impressive for its simplicity, which was, simply, ‘Your saying no to us will offend us no more than we’d want to offend you if we said no to you. It’s the nature of the beast, and we understand that, so no doors will close at all.’”
As an international school teacher you definitely don’t want to intentionally close any doors that might lead to other opportunities in the future. I guess what happens at a fair, especially as of late, most international school teachers aren’t getting that many offers at a recruitment fair. The power is still in the hands of the international schools. Not like six years ago when the power was more in the hands of the international school teacher candidate (when we would get multiple offers at a fair). So, when there are few international schools giving you an offer at a recruitment fair, it hurts to do it, but one of the offers (or both offers in some cases) you might have to say ‘no’ to. It does feel a bit weird to do that. I mean you most likely spent 1-3 interviews with a certain international school at the fair; taking up their (and your) precious time. Certainly you were interested in that position, the benefits and the idea of possibly working at the school. You are told to be open minded at the fair and go to interviews at schools in countries that you thought you would never consider; ‘they might be diamonds in the rough’ as they say. But, ultimately it is all about timing. Maybe an international school that peaked your interest at the fair is not the right international school for you to work at, at this time in your life.
I remember interviewing with one international school at a recruitment fair, a school in a country that I wasn’t really considering (though I had heard some good things about it). I had the first interview and they peaked my interest. I actually was trying my hardest to ‘prove’ that I was the right person for the position vacancy; after all it is nice to be wanted at a recruitment fair…even if it is for a position that might not be the best fit for you. Actually, I didn’t have a second interview with this international school. They waited one day and the next day they put an offer of contract in my folder. I contacted them and set up a time to meet and discuss the contract details (and a little more discussion about the position). I honestly didn’t know what my answer was going to be (though maybe deep down I did know). I literally had the pen in my hand and the contract in front of me, but I had to tell them ‘no.’ I am pretty sure I used the words ‘I just don’t think it is the best fit for me at this point in my life.’ At this fair, I actually only had one offer too, so I was saying ‘no’ to all my opportunities to accept another job for the following school year at this fair. My plan was to just stay for another year in my current position. I don’t think I burned any bridges though with this school; no doors were closed. I actually interviewed with another international school later in May and took that job instead, a school that was a better fit for me at that time in my life. Later on after moving to my new city and country, I actually bought a ticket to go visit the city that I almost moved to. I wanted to go visit that city and country for the first time, but I also secretly wanted to see what my life could’ve been like if I would have accepted that one job that was offered to me at the recruitment back in February. I actually really liked the city and the people there, also the architecture. It is possible that I would have very much enjoyed my life in that city, but I’m glad that I decided to decline that offer to live there. I would have accepted that job, then I wouldn’t be where I am now…which is the city of my dreams to live in.
At recruitment fairs, you do need to think on the spot and make quick decisions. International schools also have to make rather quick decisions as well. I like when Clay Burrel wrote when he said that he also doesn’t want to offend teachers that he has to say ‘no’ to. It is indeed a two-way street; we are both looking for the right fit at that specific moment in time. If they treat a candidate poorly, that candidate will for sure not want to interview with that school in the future. Additionally, that person will spread the word of that international school’s behavior at recruitment fairs. When the word gets around, the other potential candidates might just might also pass on interviewing with that international school.
I guess the key idea is that both international schools and yourself should just act with respect and cordiality at all times at the recruitment fairs and everything should be just fine with no doors being closed on anybody.
There are over 4850 submitted information and comments about over 1209 international schools around the world on International School Community. Each international school has its own profile page, and on each school profile page there are four sections: School, Benefits, City and Travel. Members of internationalschoolcommunity.com are able to read about and submit their own comments and information in those four sections, all in a very easy to read and organized manner. It is a great way to get a better glimpse into what could be your future life as you venture out into the world to work at your next international school! It is also a great resource at your disposal as you interview with different international schools when job hunting.