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Top 10 Things a Recruiting Int’l Teacher is 😟 Worrying About in November

November 25, 2017


Yes, it is November and many international school teachers are already thinking about the next school year. Actually, many of these teachers started recruiting back in September or August! It is necessary to recruit this early because international schools seem to be hiring earlier and earlier every year. Additionally, the international school recruitment fairs are also requiring candidates to have already applied to attend their fairs by now; by November you are most likely too late to apply to attend one (especially the ones in Bangkok)!

So, what are the top 10 things a recruiting international school teacher is worrying about in November? Maybe you can relate to some of these!

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1. Why aren’t schools writing me back!?

You are trying to be proactive. Sure, it is advisable to contact international schools as soon as you see that they have a vacancy listed. You might even send your CV to schools that don’t even have a vacancy for you at the moment. It is really unfortunate though that many schools just don’t have the time to write everyone back in a timely manner…or at all. Though the truth might be that if the school really wanted to contact you, they would!  If they are not contacting you, it might also mean that they are simply not ready to start short-listing candidates or that you are indeed not the best fit for the position at this moment in time.

2. Should I tell my school that I am FOR SURE leaving at the end of the current school year?

International schools are not making it easy for recruiting teachers.  It appears as if many schools are requiring that their teachers tell them (if they are going to leave or sign another contract) earlier and earlier in the school year.  It makes sense though.  Admin needs to plan ahead.  The earlier international schools start recruiting, the better choice and more selective they can be when hiring for the next school year.  But officially signing the paper stating your intentions, it is something that will raise your heart beat a bit (in a good way and not so good way, depending on your present situation).

3. When will I finally secure a job?

It is so nerve-wracking to quit your job without having another job already lined up.  An international school teacher is lucky to already get a job secured in November for the next school year. Admin positions might get hired around this time, but typically not regular teachers. Many teachers don’t sign a contract for their new job until April or May, so to wait that long…it is torture!  Even if you go to an international school recruitment fair, it is not guaranteed that you will be signing a contract there either. You often need to wait another few weeks as the school wants time to interview some other candidates at the next recruitment fair. They also need time to contact and check all your references.

4. How am I going to stand out at the recruitment fair?

We’ve seen them at the fairs.  The candidates that seem to have everything in order.  They’ve thought of everything!  They have smart, professional, and personalized stationary for thank you notes. They also have extra flash drives with their portfolio presentations on them to give to the schools.  Some teachers  at the recruitment fairs have CVs with unique, eye-catching designs.  Others will have scrapbook-like binders with photos that show highlights from their teaching career; nice to have real photos of your teaching as talking points during your interview.  The truth is you do need to think about your strategy at the fair, well ahead of time, so that you are prepared to represent yourself in the best way possible.

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5. Can’t I just interview with schools on Skype and not have to attend a recruitment fair?

Attending recruitment fairs are great for networking and meeting your potential future boss in person, but they are also quite stressful and expensive. It is sometimes more ideal to just do all your interviewing over Skype.  It is cheaper for your budget and also cheaper for the schools to hire people online.  Some teachers are lucky and they get a school wanting to do a first interview with their shortlisted candidates before the recruitment fair even starts. Of those pre-screened teachers, some will get snatched up because of that pre-recruitment fair Skype interview (more and more candidates are getting hired via Skype and only Skype). Others though, will still have to go to the recruitment fair to do another in-person interview.

6. What if I don’t get another job at an international school and I need to move back to my home country?

It isn’t the end of the world to move back to your home country. But when you want to continue on in the international school community, moving back to your home country is definitely a last resort option.  Come March/April, if you haven’t secured a job, the thought does run through your mind.  Your mind runs through all the possible scenarios. Will you move back to the last place you lived in your home country and work in the same school/district as you did before?  Will you consider a different city in your home country and try to start a new life there?  Some of these scenarios do actually sound enticing to you, but your mind always goes back to the next international school that you are hoping to work at.

7. Will my top school have a vacancy for me and if they do, will the vacancy still be there by the time the recruitment fair starts?

When you see that your top school has posted a vacancy for that fits your skills, it is a time to rejoice!  Screaming out loud in your apartment is not uncommon when this happens; screams of exhilaration, relief and excitement! Once those feelings subside a bit, the realities of the situation start to set in. What if someone who is more qualified than me gets the school’s attention first? What if they end up hiring that position internally, a person already working at the school?  What if someone with a connection to the school gets referred for the position (hiring a good candidate with a connection to somebody who already works at the school is desirable!)? Maybe they will decide to fill the position with some local hire; it is usually cheaper to do that. So many scenarios and possibilities completely out of your control. When recruiting, it is truly all about luck and timing. If it was meant to be, to work at your top school in next school year, then it will happen regardless of all the time and effort you put towards applying for the position. That does not mean you do not try everything in your power though to get the school’s attention, demonstrating you are a good fit for the vacancy. Some teacher might back out a month after they sign the contract (that you were hoping to get) and you might be second in line for the position!

8. Did my current and past supervisors give me a super-positive confidential references or not-so-positive ones?

I guess that is why they are confidential, they are not for you to see or know about. Even if you have a good relationship with your boss, it is hard to know exactly how honest they will be on those confidential references that you might have to do  (if you are attending a recruitment fair for example).  The likelihood that they wrote you a positive reference is far higher than them writing a super negative one for you. When schools are not writing you back though, it is easy to start thinking about what the schools might be reading on your recruitment fair online profile. It is good to remember that most admin are supportive of their teachers, and will do all they can to help you secure your next job.

9. Kidding oneself that you are all cool, calm and collected about everything.

No one wants to be stressed-out for 3-5 months, but that is what your future holds for your when recruiting.  Inevitably, it is going to be a bumpy ride.  Be proactive about this and think of ways that you can get yourself grounded.  When in the middle of the craziness of recruiting to work at an international school, don’t forget about your health and well-being. One idea to keep yourself in the right frame of mind is to continue enjoying what your host country has to offer. It is easy to take for granted the awesome opportunity to live in your current host country when recruiting, since your main focus is currently on moving. Don’t let that distract you too much and get out to continue to enjoy what your host country has to offer.  Additionally, keep going out with your local friends that you’ve made during your time there and to get your mind off recruiting for a few hours.

10. Is there hope just around corner?

The fact is that it typically all works in the end, when recruiting. You WILL find a job. Many times, teachers do find the position at the school and in the city of their dreams. Keep your hopes and dreams alive during these recruitment months. Your positive energy will be apparent to your interviewer and the stars will align as you somehow have just the right answers to their tough questions.  Make your dream school become your reality!

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This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member.

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