How to prepare for an international recruiting fair
As we enter the high season for job hunting, Delice Scotto. looks at how teachers – and recruiters – can get the most out of attending one of the perennially popular international teacher recruitment fairs.
What’s on offer?
The list of reputable agencies organising recruiting fairs is long. Some of the top fairs are organized by the following agencies: SEARCH Associates/ International School Services/ Council of International Schools (CIS)/ University of Northern IOWA (UNI)/TORF at Queens University, and CRS.
Once you are registered for a fair how should you prepare for it? It has been said by recruiters and candidates alike that the recruiting fair is analogous to attending a “speed dating” event, with too little time to make very important decisions! Since the cost of attending a fair could be taxing on a teacher’s budget, it is important to make the most of the event.
Here is some advice from someone who has recruited several hundred teachers at various recruiting fairs over the years.
1. Prepare in advance
You need to do your homework before arriving at the fair. Make a list of what things are important to you in your school working environment and your living environment. Find out what countries and schools will be represented at the fair. You may have a wish list of schools or countries – check them out. Do they have openings to match your skills set?
2. Research the countries you are interested in.
Ask yourself if you can live comfortably and safely there? Always have a few possibilities in mind because often times the “dream” position may be filled by the time the recruiting school arrives at the fair. Oh and keep an open mind as a “dream” job can be in a country not on your wish list!
3. Make prior contact with recruiters
One way to avoid losing the perfect position is to contact the school prior to the fair. School recruiters may try to contact you as well. Using Skype, you can get a sense of the school, meet the Principal and possibly key staff prior to the “in person” interview at the fair. Recruiters will pore over hundreds of resumes as they prepare for the fair, so you need to make them aware during this interview of your skills and experience and how you will be a good fit for their school.
3. Pre – screening
Many schools will not grant interviews to any candidate at the fair that they have not pre-screened. Time is limited so they want to book interviews at the fair’s sign up session only with the candidates they have put on a shortlist. Typically those candidates have the credentials and good references required for their school. A few teacher candidates will attempt to share their skills and experience at the sign up session. Many school recruiters will only put them on a waitlist for an interview.
4. Don’t be rushed
During the fair, you may have up to 10-15 interviews over the two days. Interested schools may be giving verbal offers at these interviews, offering letters of intent, or a contract. Beware and do not succumb to the pressure until you are certain! Time is precious for you and the recruiter so if you are not seriously considering a school don’t sign up for the interview or continue to accept follow-up interviews. Rather spend your time productively . . . . contact other teachers at the schools of interest, speak with your immediate family about the possibilities, speak with other candidates at the fair who might know something about the school or country. Speak with your recruiting agency representative as they serve as a good source of information about a school.
5. Accepting an offer
You can accept a verbal offer, sign a letter of intent, or even a contract once you feel comfortable with your decision. Remember any one of the above is binding, and you have now committed yourself for several years. Reneging on them is not taken lightly by the recruiting agency and may result in being dropped as a candidate. Of course if you still feel uncertain by the end of the fair, ask the school recruiter for some extra time to make your decision. Most will be obliging. Good schools want happy teachers who are a good fit.
If you prepare for the fair you have a better chance of being successful and walking away at the end of the two days with a “dream” position. Good luck at your fair!
Delice Scotto – Consilium Education
Delice hails from New York, USA. She received a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from New York University in 1986 and was inducted as a member of Phi Beta Kappa educational honor society.
Celebrating over forty-two years as an educator who has a deep commitment to school improvement, Delice has a wealth of experience both as a teacher and administrator in public, private and charter schools in the United States as well as the Middle East. She is now a consultant for Consilium Education.
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