Here are some things to remember, in no particular order.
1. Register early and check your mail often but don’t be neurotic about it or you’ll just give yourself a stroke
2. Be visible – be physically present, write notes, send e-mails, don’t make calls unless asked to, but be open to receive them
3. Be positive – everywhere – your future boss might be on the plane with you when you fly in, or she.might be the person in front of you at the deli getting a paper and a cup of coffee when you go out early in the morning in yesterday’s clothes and a baseball cap to hide your hair
4. Have a plan – know what you want and where you think you will find it – BUT BE OPEN TO A PLACE YOU NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT BEFORE
5. Be organized
6. Leave with your integrity and a job, too
Within my experience, schools that tend to have an easy time recruiting put a fair amount of focus on the early fairs – and put a lot of effort into finding the best candidates for their positions before the fairs even start. If you have a good amount of experience (say you’ve already taught at two int’l schools) and have very strong recommendations, then the early fairs can be very worthwhile. If you’re newer to the field, then the very earliest fairs may not be as worthwhile.
I have only gotten jobs through fairs so I can’t speak to other methods. Personally I like the UNI fair, same result with less effort and fewer costs. You couldn’t beat their $5 registration packet. They moved the fair ahead between my first and second fair but now even that earlier starting date can’t compete with the ISS or Search Bangkok fair.
UNI was great at doing exactly what they said they would. They were organized, the Convention Center was close to ideal, and Waterloo is a fine city. You spend 3 or 4 days there. Most of your time you are networking, researching, writing, or interviewing. There were restaurants within walking distance. We stayed at the Quality Inn. It was quiet and the continental breakfast was not only good but a great time to meet folks. The cost was reasonable unlike staying in cities like New York, San Francisco, or Cambridge. You are there to secure a job and network, not sightsee. UNI brought in 125 schools from all over the world. We are going to work for International Schools Group in Saudi Arabia. Good package, great leadership!
Having just attended an ISS job fair, I can now compare it with Search and with UNI. I still prefer UNI. Both Search and ISS fairs are held in large convention hotels in world-class cities. These are very expensive hotels. If you do not stay at the hotel, you must find a way to the fair. Same as UNI, but UNI is less expensive overall, particularly in regards to hotel rooms.
Search’s database is very nice. So is UNI’s. I felt that ISS did not offer me the same amount of information.
All three are professionally managed. The clincher for me is the amity in the atmosphere at UNI. It’s just plain fun. There are many teachers who are looking for their first international position as well as many who have been around the block. A few times. Everyone is very friendly and willing to talk and share their experiences. Although I found a few people with whom to discuss international education at the other fairs, too many of the teachers seemed to be driven to concentrate on landing just that exact position that they sought and did not have the time to sit and talk. Perhaps they were afraid I’d take their perfect position if we spoke?
2/2/09 Here’s the truth: Fairs are dinosaurs. Fairs are ludicrous wastes of time, money and effort — on the part of both those looking for jobs and those looking to fill jobs. It doesn’t matter WHAT fair, WHERE it is or WHO is sponsoring it. If teachers would refuse to attend fairs and demand to be interviewed and evaluated via Skype or other Internet phone/video technology, everyone would be far better served.
My wife and I have attended UNI and Search. UNI is the best fair out there, period. But as I said, fairs are anachronisms. Anybody who thinks teachers can be more accurately evaluated in a 15-minute interview at a fair than in hours of multiple online interviews — without anyone leaving home or spending a dime — is as cutting-edge as an 8-track tape.
My sincere advice is: Boycott ALL the fairs. Teachers, unlike administrators, can’t spend 6 weeks or more running all over the world to be seen for 15 minutes by every potential school. But online recruiting makes EVERY teacher available to EVERY school on an equal basis. End the demeaning cattle calls of a bygone era.
Which fair is best is the wrong question. Recruiting should be done exclusively online — period.
2/2/09 I attended the CIS London, January 31-February 1 2009. The last job fair I attended was in 1998; so it’s been awhile. I’ve been on the international circuit for more than a few years, am an IB teacher and, even though my subject area is over subscribed, I receive offers of interest from schools before the fairs. I would agree with most of what has been written and will add a few things that I learned at this particular fair.
1. Most of the teachers at this fair were from the UK, and without international experience. This is good for the schools that have a difficult time filling in positions where either a) the school does not have a positive reputation (just look through International Schools Review!) and/or b) the school’s location is a bit ‘challenging.’ CIS fairs may be better for people new to international teaching. More than one director told me they would wait for the Search fair (one week later) before offering positions because the Search candidates, in their opinion, had more (IB) experience.
2. Some schools will always look at couples first; it makes things easier for the school. I am now at the stage where I just accept this as fact, and if I am told this by a recruiter, thank them for their time and hope they will think of me for a future position (if I want to work for them, that is).
3. I would also agree with the comment that fairs are just one avenue to pursue when looking for an overseas position. But, if you want to learn more about international schools (I go to as many school presentations as possible) and hear what the directors have to say, this is a good way of finding out what’s on offer, around the world.
4. Go with an open mind, don’t take negative comments too personally and try to enjoy networking; it can really pay off!
2/2/09 Fairs are not the only way or the best way to get a job but one part of the process. Contact schools directly in September , make your name known to the secretary or the decision maker by email…. be proactive! And join an agency as well , there are lots out there who all help the school;s recruit staff before ,during and after the fairs. BUT always do your research on the fair that you go to, the schools that you want to speak to, the countries that they are in and the recruiters that you use… if you don’t and end up in an inappropriate school, then it’s your fault- not the school or anybody else
2/1/09 I attended the Bangkok Search fair and after getting a job, blew off the Hong Kong fair I had registered for “just in case”. Really wouldn’t have been worth it anyway as virtually all the schools I was interested in were in Bangkok.
Just wanted to say that the preference for couples was definitely evident, and I was turned away from sign up tables many times with a “sorry, only hiring couples at this time”. It made me wonder whether going to a fair that was a little later in the season would have been more productive? Definitely an issue for me as my teaching area is over-supplied.
Still, I got 4 interviews and 2 offers. The portfolio I prepared was VERY useful, though no one looked at all of it, it came in handy several times – especially in demonstrating my organization skills and showing student projects, photos of my classroom activities, coaching, etc. All those hours preparing it were not wasted!
2/1/09 There are some characteristics of the recruiting circuit I have observed that newcomers should be aware of. They are mostly common sense when you think about it.
— There are some specialists that are hard to find and so the qualified people have more job offers and get hired faster: Math, science, counselors, IB teachers.
— Most schools prefer couples if the job fit is reasonable, so couples get the most attention at the early job fairs. Singles do better at later fairs.
— Flexibility and adaptability rule. Candidates who are open to diverse schools and situations will scoop up the early jobs. You hear this everywhere because it’s true.
— The recruiting season actually starts in September, when experienced teachers start sending out targeted emails and letters to administrators. Some teachers and administrators arrive at fairs with many interviews already lined up. Newcomers can get in on this if they put in the research time up front.
— Be aware that while you are peaking in top form, many interviewers at your fair have been on the recruiting road for weeks, are sick of airplanes and hotel suites, the paper is piling up and the faces are all merging. Be nice all the time — whatever happens, it’s not personal.
One item that always amazes me: Every fair I have attended I meet a few fellow candidates with less than 100% commitment. “Testing the waters” or “getting a feel for the job market” are typical phrases. These people never get jobs because they are already expecting less, so naturally they have poor experiences. The time for research and testing is before the fair. Go with 100% commitment, anything else is a waste of time.
At the fair, communication, visibility and instant response are paramount. Stay at the fair’s hotel, even it if is more expensive, so that you will be ready when the call comes. If you don’t have a mobile phone, rent one. Never (I have seen this tried several times) try to poach interviews by going to a fair unregistered and trying to arrange contacts offline. The school that would hire you this way, you don’t want to work for.
2/1/09 We attended the NEW CIS fair in Delhi, India this last Jan. It was a small fair, but the CIS people were wonderful and helpful. I am sure it will be much larger in the future. My husband and I interviewed with schools we were interested in (we’re already overseas) and were hired at a school quickly. We’re very excited and have been in close email contact with both the Director and Principal (we interviewed with both).We loved the venue (Taj Palace Hotel) and appreciated all the attention we received from CIS and hotel staff. It was definitely a pleasure.
We attended the UNI fair in 2005 and also loved it. It was a MUCH larger fair, but very well organized. We were hired quickly at UNI. I have suggested both fairs to friends.
2/1/09 I attended the Search Bangkok Job Fair on 10 – 13 January. My impression is that this year things are different due to the economic climate. Quite a few candidates I spoke to said that there were far fewer jobs there than were advertised. In fact, several recruiters told me that they had filled positions internally just before the fair. I believe this to be the trend: many teachers are staying put because of financial uncertainty, and many schools are unwilling to recruit too many teachers because of the very real threat of falling rolls. This has happened in my own school. I do not blame Search for this, and I do believe that if schools need a teacher, they are using the old boy network more to get those teachers. Phone interviews also seem more common at the moment as schools try to save money on attending recruitment fairs.
2/1/09 As a first time attendee of a fair, being the Search fair in Bangkok, I was really surprised at what I found. I found two distinct groups of recruits: one group, like me, had been to only one or two fairs. They were really friendly and willing to exchange experiences and chat. Generally they were older, sometimes career change teachers, with a wealth of life experience and interesting tales to tell. The other group were “seasoned” fair goers, who, to be blunt, were really quite arrogant and nasty. They wouldn’t lower themselves to speaking to anyone who wasn’t, in their opinion, in their ‘league’.
Recruiters, too, were a curious bunch. Some were only interested in one or two specifics in your resume, and if you didn’t have that one particular thing, they didn’t look twice at you, regardless of the other experience you may have had. In some circumstances, some were actually downright rude. Many of these left long before the fair was finished, and offered jobs so early in the fair it made it difficult for everyone else. Others were prepared to look past the obvious and notice the extras, like experience in the arts or sports, as possible benefits to their school, and were prepared to give you a chance at interview. I generally found them far more friendly and personable, and I think their schools would be more flexible places as a result.
My advice? If you are a first time attendee, don’t let it get to you. They can be demoralizing, patronizing, fake and insincere, and you may want to run away and cry, but don’t. You have every right to be there, and your experience, even outside of teaching, DOES count for something, even if they say it doesn’t. In the future, I will focus on this experience. It’s what gives me an edge ’cause it makes me different, and in the end, that’s what got me interviews and opportunities. Let’s face it, teachers are a dime a dozen, but someone like a saxophone-playing graphic designer and qualified soccer coach, well… that’s harder to find, and in the end, may be far more valuable to a potential employer!
I went to Bangkok with high hopes, and though I left without a job offer, I took away a lot of knowledge about the international school circuit. It’s a really dog-eat-dog world, and to be honest, I really don’t want to go to another fair anytime soon. It was awful. I have been much more successful applying for jobs directly through the Search database. Though having read about the UNI fairs, I think I may try them.