Change agents

Why register for a recruiting agency?

If you are looking for a new job, it’s time to get busy! The “international recruiting season” is starting earlier and earlier, and you want to give yourself the best chance of getting the best job. 

Andy Homden looks at how recruiting agents can help, and what you should expect of them.

Being active

There are arguments both for and against using a recruiting agent to find a job, as you would expect. There are many good recruitment agencies around, which care about their clients and will do all they can to serve the teacher’s interests. However you are unlikely to get the kind of job you are hoping to land if you sign up with an agent and then expect them to do all the work.  How, then, should you go about things, find a good agent and then get the most out of them?

No short cuts

Firstly, good agents will want to know as much as they can about you. Completing their standardised form and providing them with testimonials is time consuming, but it shows they are taking you seriously. Leading agents reserve the right not to accept your custom until they are satisfied with the authenticity of your credentials, have access to references and are sure that you are suitable for their client schools – so you have to work hard to get accepted. Being asked for all these things is a good sign! The best agents maintain reliable databases which schools can view while they are recruiting – so the more information you provide, the better.


Good agents may want to have a conversation or meet you and some agencies pre-interview candidates and recommend them to schools on this basis. Again this is great for you! Good agents respond to your questions and let you know what is going on. They won’t pressure you into accepting a job and they offer advice which is as objective as possible.

The length and quality of a recruitment agency’s experience is, to an extent for you a good guide and is generally an indication that they are serving the interests of both school and teacher. Many have been teachers or principals, and know what it is like to be recruited as well as to recruit. On the other hand, some of the newer agencies are trying really hard and know that a good testimonial from a teacher is very valuable. I would say, as a rule of thumb, the more personal your contact with an agent or agency, the better they are likely to serve your interests, and the stronger the bond of trust that is created.

Being in demand

There is no doubt that agencies work especially well for teachers whose particular expertise is going to be in demand. This is just a fact of life. As a recruiting head, I was very likely to contact a number of agencies in two circumstances:

  • If I need to make an unexpected appointment of any sort, at late notice
  • If the teacher’s expertise is in an area of short supply, which general means teachers of Physics, Maths, Chemistry, Special Needs, and, increasingly of Early Years

Having the back up of an agent I had learned to trust was essential, and as a Principal I made some excellent appointments in this way. If you are registered with a good agency, there is every chance that you can establish contact with a school who may urgently need your services quickly and efficiently.


To recap:

  • Registration with an agency will not automatically get you a job. You must remain active – keep in touch with your agent (though be sensible about the frequency of contact!) while also replying to other adverts directly
  • Build a relationship with your agent. There is no substitute for trust, and this is built up over time, as they guide you, perhaps, to more than one successful appointment
  • It is much easier to take the advice of someone who you have learned to trust and who has really guided you. However, if after due consideration you come to an alternative view, do not be afraid to disagree


Andy Homden is a former international school principal, and is now the CEO of Consilium Education the publishers of International Teacher Magazine.

Click here for direct links to some of the best international teacher recruiting agencies all on one convenient page in ITM.

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