Recruiting Fair AASSA Georgia2018-04-06T05:32:35+00:00

AASSA Atlanta, Georgia USA

December 3-6, 2009

Illinois, USA

Conference director Paul Poore did a good job of welcoming us to the event. However, he did state that if you ever broke a contract mid-year or were black-balled for any reason at any previous international school, he would get the word around to all recruiters and you would not be hired. I knew several people who were applying to international schools who left mid year due to unbearable circumstance (60 days without pay, no teaching materials, broken promises and abusive situations through no fault of their own) who had paid the hefty conference registration fee, transportation and lodging to get to the conference but would probably not be hired due to the black balling attitude of this conference’s organizers. This is clearly a conference to avoid if you have left a previous international posting on a negative note. 


Kansas City, USA 

An excellent experience – the signup session was in too small a space, but the organization and follow up were outstanding. Schools interviewed well, and most of the people I spoke with had offers and jobs. This is a good place for people interested in South America


Bogota, Colombia 

Excellent. Well organized. Great ratio of candidates to schools. On-line databank. Hotel facility was great and AASSA was able to secure amazing rates. A+


Missouri, USA 

I signed up late for this conference and missed the special hotel rate, but I’m glad of this. While the Grand Hyatt rooms were nice, I found some real frustration on the parts of recruiters since some (many? most?) could not adequately use their room’s internet. My very nice room, only a short taxi ride away, was under $70/night and had exceptional, reliable internet service and included a lovely breakfast, + many other amenities. I arrived early and stayed late, so couldn’t have stayed at either of the hotel options suggested by AASSA at the special price anyway. 

The last time I used AASSA for a job was in Winterhaven, Florida (1993) and it was so tiny a recruiting fair that I blew it off after the first hour and went sightseeing instead. This year I was pleased to see a full, worthy fair with many recruiters.

Some things I liked: 

-All ethniticities and ages of candidates were represented. I was encouraged by this! 

-Informative orientation on both Thursday evening and Friday morning (but a little too much about how cool Paul Poore thinks he is, and his many renditions of how “life is a crap shoot”).

Some things that I definitely did NOT like:

-The tiny size of the room used on Thursday, 9:30 to line up and sign up for interviews was panic-inducing and FAR too small for the large number of schools and candidates. People could barely pass each other in the search for ‘their’ school’s line, and lines for one school covered access to the next school crammed in alphabetically next to each other–totally inadequate and frustrating for ALL. 

-Even after the event was touted as a ‘paperless’ fair, many recruiters could not communicate except via Esther’s (“I’M in control here” she said) file box communication system — This was silly and useless, and required both groups (candidates & recruiters) to constantly return to the tiny Atlanta Rm. to check their files. Ridiculous! Who had time for this? 

-Since recruiters did not have reliable internet in their rooms, some had to conduct Skype video interviews in the room provided for ’emergency’ internet access. Although I was glad to see one recruiter took the time to make the connection happen, it was an open venue full of candidates and recruiters, and seemed, to me, to lower the professionalism of the whole affair. At the very least, a better venue which has reliable internet for ALL parties involved should be found for future conferences. 

-The AASSA website does not appear to be for the benefit of candidates at all. I understand that it is, in fact, a website which serves the schools which pay for and use AASSA services; but at the very least, a ‘log on’ link for candidates should be front and foremost during the recruiting season for candidates to do their best to find schools and jobs in which they are interested. 

-When schools had to cancel, such as Uruguay, it should be communicated ASAP, not by word of mouth in the halls in the midst of the interviewing period. 

-Notes of every form were provided for recruiters (2nd interview request, not interested, etc.). If this service is provided for recruiters, I think that notes for candidates should also be provided (thank you, not interested, have to cancel appointment, I’ve already accepted another job, etc.). 

-Not one school recruiter with whom I had communicated prior to the fair, nor any of them with whom I had an interview, could be bothered to pick up a telephone (since the internet was not reliable) and call me to say they were or were not interested, or delay the interview, or anything. Even after I notified each recruiter of my hotel and cell phone numbers, none could call or write a short email. I just found this surprising in this supposedly “paperless” conference. 

-Too many positions still listed as “Tentative”. It seemed, at times, like recruiters were just fishing for possibilities and waiting for the biggies upcoming fairs.


Honduras 

The fair was okay. It seemed like another fair I had attended. The sign-up for interviews location was too small. Therefore, we were crowded, barely enough room to walk. Some schools didn’t update their profiles on the online system. Therefore, once there, you see that some positions have changed; some bigger changes than others. This is very disappointing if you are in an area that doesn’t have many openings. Also, schools did say online whether they preferred singles or teaching couples, but once there some had signs that said “prefer teaching couples”. I wish they had put this on their profile so that I would not have wasted my time. Furthermore, I didn’t have time to sign up for all the schools I desired. By the time I was done with about four lines, some schools had already left and begun preparing for interviews. How awful! Also, I feel that people of color had a disadvantage, especially black candidates. I feel some schools wanted an “American” face to appeal to parents/local school community. Some schools also have issues with hiring older candidates. This is completely unfair.

I think schools were hiring and not just shopping, but some schools are not going to simply settle. That’s a good thing. What I don’t like, however, is that some schools are willing to pass over a great or excellent single teacher simply because it’s more economical to have a teaching couple. Yes, I know they are more economical and have a built-in emotional support, but an excellent single candidate who has lived overseas before, with a good work history and references, should have an equal opportunity as the couple. With some couples, one is fantastic while the other is mediocre. However, at times, the teaching couple will still win over the great single teacher. What a disappointment.

On another note, the event sponsor was fantastic! Paul Poore is professional, energetic, helpful, what more could you want? He made the fair worth while!

Would I recommend this fair to others? It depends: single, couple, position, experience? For example, teaching couples where one is IB Physics with an elementary teaching spouse could pretty much write their own fate. However, single elementary teachers, teaching couples in rare/not so common positions, get ready! An emotional rollercoaster awaits you!

I did land a job, but it wasn’t easy. I really had to sell myself. My references, resume, work experience, etc. was not enough. I was too common and “elementary positions are the easiest to fill” as I had one recruiter tell me. “You are a very strong candidate, but I prefer a teaching couple” is what I heard more than once.

I hope recruiters and fair sponsors read this. Change definitely needs to be done.


Washington D.C

Since your site promotes anonymous opinions, I would like to go out on a limb and–as the organizer of the AASSA Recruiting Fair–respond personally to some of the comments made.We asked every candidate and recruiter to evaluate our fair and overall the results were wholly positive. It was unfortunate that our 5-star hotel’s internet system had problems, but we did everything we could to make this work for both candidates and recruiters including setting up a room with 50 internet access points and 6 printers.

I agree the sign-up ballroom space was too small, and that will be rectified for next year’s fair which we are hoping to hold in the same hotel. There were also schools with too few recruiters for the large number of openings they had posted.

Some candidates, to be honest, did no research in advance of the fair and did not really have a strategy of how to approach a hiring fair: thus my advice to use this fair and any other fair as a learning experience. And I do think that life is a crap shoot! Sometimes things work the way one thinks they should, and other times they just don’t.”

At AASSA we have taken candidates’ and recruiters’ evaluations very seriously and improved each year’s fair…as we will do with the comments that are posted on this site. Our aim is two fold: to support our member schools but also to act on behalf of the candidates. We put a lot of time and energy into trying to meet the needs of everyone, and my staff and I spent long hours advising candidates the best we possibly could. I appreciated seeing that captured in your review.

The reality is that a job fair brings out the very best and the very worst in people. Egos are delicate and we are all easily hurt by rejection–just as we are elated by our successes. It is our goal to help candidates through this process as honestly and as fairly as possible.

I thank all of you who attended.

Paul Poore


Georgia, USA

I was impressed with how well thought out the AASSA fair was–starting with the website, which was extremely helpful. It listed things that most other recruiting fair sites do not list. Very helpful was the line about whether or not there were age limitations. This is extremely helpful for the rather sizeable number of highly experienced teachers who decide to teach overseas after a long career in the US–especially the first-timers, who haven’t learned this information yet via ‘the grapevine’. This is the first time I have seen this information on a job fair website. 

Obviously, the room needed was shockingly size-challenged. Since it was not in the room that was designated in the schedule, perhaps he got bumped down by another event. I have been to many a job fair, and his pre-fair talk was perhaps the best I’ve seen. It’s clear he knows his stuff, and is not on a power trip. (Some overseas teaching veterans know of whom I speak!) Because it is a relatively small fair, there were meager offerings in some specialties. I overheard a disgruntled specialist complain about the fact that there wasn’t a single offering in his specialty. His point was well-taken: AASSA could have and should have notified him of this in advance of the fair. In the past, I have been so notified, since my field is sometimes also small. I think Mr. Poore did an excellent job in his planning and supporting both the recruiter and the job-seeker. I’m guessing that the internet problems are, unfortunately, the result of the common problem of hotels saying they can deliver when, in fact, they can’t. I would suggest that Mr. Poore find good reason to believe that next year will be different before he hands what is a fairly lucrative contract over to the same hotel again. There are many hotels in Atlanta which could handle such a conference, possibly with more satisfaction, though the negotiated price for all was reasonable and much appreciated!


Oregon, USA

Well, first of all I would like to say that, unfortunately, I find most of the comments on here to be contiguous with most postings on any site that international teachers use. While the fair had areas that needed improvement (size of room, recruiters being more attentive to the changes in vacancies), the people on here need to stop blaming everything on the recruiters. First of all, don’t complain about not being able to contact schools. I didn’t have a laptop and I found it easy to get in touch with all the schools I was trying to contact via boxes, the courtesy phone, or during their presentations.

Secondly, I am a single elementary teacher with little experience and I still got three offers at the fair. So all the complaints about people getting “overlooked” because schools wanted teaching couples…. maybe you should look inward instead of projecting the pain from a hurt ego onto the recruiters and fair directors. The whole ‘crap shoot’ analogy is true and if you really had all that experience, you should know that one needs to keep their mind open when attending these things. My first-fourth choices basically all told me to beat it in the interview sign-up, but I still managed to get two full days of interviews and worked HARD to utilize these opportunities. 

Candidates need to RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH before the fair. This will go a long way to alleviate the frustrations of feeling bombarded when schools don’t have the vacancies you thought, or don’t want to hire the candidate that you imagine yourself to be. Be a ‘pest’, contact the HRs at the schools, the directors; send your letter of interest and CV. I had many directors already know who I was when I approached their table from my photo resume I had sent them via e-mail prior to the fair. We joked about how I had been “persistent” before-hand, and many times it saved me time in the sign-up. Schools already had seen my CV before the fair and knew that I wouldn’t be a fit. On the other hand I had two interviews set up before I even got the fair, so doing about a month of work and communication BEFORE the fair will go a LONG way.

So I don’t mean to just rag on the other candidates, but there were so many people I met at the fair and whose reviews I am now probably reading, that lead me to believe that some of you need to step your game up research and ambition-wise. As cliche as it is to say, life isn’t perfect and these fair experiences are all about what you make them. Although I had offers, I left “empty-handed” but still view this as a valuable experience. Do your homework, stay hungry and be flexible; ready to adapt when life, or fairs, throw you a curve. You could end up at a great school that wasn’t on your radar. At the very least, if you have this approach you won’t be all jaded afterward blaming schools, Paul and Esther for everything.


Honduras

I would like to address the above post. I wrote the post about schools preferring teaching couples. I am a single elementary, too. Listen, I have been teaching nine years, have a Masters, and impeccable references. I am currently teaching overseas.

To be honest, I was very picky at the fair. I am curious to see what schools you interviewed with at the fair. Truthfully, many schools offered me jobs, but I’m not going to work for peanuts or for a school with a lame package. Also, I don’t want to work at a school full of new teachers who have one or two years of experience. I’m at a point in my career where I’m being picky. So yes, I went to the schools with great packages, for my standards.

I RESEARCHED, RESEARCHED, and RESEARCHED MONTHS BEFORE THE FAIR. Some of the schools I desired did not post until a few weeks before. I refused to accept a job with no worldwide health insurance. Now that I live overseas, I see how important that is. I’m also not going to accept a job where I can’t save AT LEAST 30% or 40% of my salary. Not only were the schools interviewing me, I was interviewing them as well. There were schools in Colombia, Jamaica, Venezuela, and Brazil that contacted me before the fair. I know I could have had a job with them. But, hello!, their packages were not up to my standards. Some even had the nerve to not offer medical insurance at all. I didn’t even bother interviewing with them. I had two interviews before the fair. But so did many others. The “better” schools don’t really need to interview before the fair. They know they’ll have no problem getting candidates. Some schools, however, have to work a little harder. I only accept what I think I’m worth.

I landed my dream job because I didn’t settle. I have worldwide insurance, a fantastic salary, the reviews on this site about the school were great (I read all this BEFORE the fair), the school has a great reputation, and it was on my list of eight schools.

I went to the fair with eight (8) schools that I knew in which I would like to teach. I have very high standards, so I expected the same with the schools.

If I were a newer elementary teacher (1 or 2 years experience), with little or no overseas experience, I too would lower my standards and expectations. Sometimes at that level, you get what you can take. But then again, you can get lucky.

Remember, one person’s experience may be different from another. For me, it was an emotional rollercoaster. But, I landed a job and at a great school!!!!!!!!

By the way, schools DO discriminate in many ways (race, age, sexual orientation). Believe it or not. Sometimes, however, people from one world can’t empathize with those from another. But don’t say it isn’t so if you really don’t know.


California, USA

I will try to give an objective commentary on the fair in as few words as possible. First, as an aside, its interesting to read the reviews of this fair precisely because this was my first fair and I’m a new teacher to the international scene. I’ve always wondered if the reviews (often negative) I read of schools are accurate or not and never had a reference point until now to compare other opinions with my experience.

To start, the few negatives of the fair: It felt like a “recruiters fair” in terms of candidates to applicants. This could very well be a function of the economy though. In any case it will be interesting to see the % of hires from this fair in comparison to previous years.

Also, as mentioned, there was not enough room during the sign in session. It was a chaotic experience and perhaps more so for us new teachers. However, from what I understand, this was a hotel malfunction and not the fault of the fair who had originally contracted two ballrooms.

Now to the positive– and MOST of the fair was very positive: It was very well organized, both online and on site. The organizers really worked hard to make it a smooth experience. I didn’t really have a problem with the mailbox. It was convenient and allowed me to not have to carry around a laptop constantly to communicate.

About the director, Paul. My impressions of him were not anything like an above post. I found him a very helpful, interested director. He didn’t seem arrogant to me in the least, but he was enthusiastic and maybe this rubs off on some differently than others. Personally, I thought he, Esther, and Alex (?) did a great job and were helpful.

Overall, the experience was a roller coaster but very informative. And it is a crap shoot. You are going to spend 1,000$ or so going to a fair like this and are bound to see it negatively if you walk away without a job. Its human nature. I felt that the economy and size of the ballroom were the only thing really conspiring against teachers, as well as my lack of experience. But 2/3 of those can’t be attributed to the fair. So in conclusion, the fair was well done


Arizona, USA

Orientation with Paul Poore was good. He was very competent and caring to both candidates and recruiters. Hotel was great except the lack of internet service, which they didn’t charge me for (was supposed to be $10 a day). I liked being able to stay at the same hotel, made it easy to relax between interviews, make phone calls to friends and family, freshen-up etc. It was also windy and cold that weekend so I was not getting disheveled walking between hotels. My only disappointment was the lack of time to schedule interviews. I was not able to make contact with some of the schools I was interested in because they had very long lines and the ballroom was very crowded. Paul suggested I write notes for those recruiters whom I was unable to contact, and not a single one got back to me. I’m a highly qualified teacher but how are they to know this unless they meet me and talk with me. A resume can only go so far! The fair was very competitive, and though many people did get hired at the fair, many did not. It was obvious walking around the lobby who got jobs and who didn’t. The atmosphere was quite charged and awkward at the same time. I enjoyed most being able to network with other teachers, many of whom were already working at schools overseas!


Florida, USA 

Prior to the AASSA fair, I think I read every bit of information there was to be found online or in print about international teaching, the AASSA member schools, and the teacher recruitment process. That’s to say that I showed up with realistic expectations, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. For one, the AASSA staff were very approachable and seemed to truly be there to help the candidates as well as the recruiters. When I went to the registration table, Esther came out to help me and immediately put me at ease. There was a woman in line next to me, though, who was a little aggressive about getting her stuff from her folder and seemed put off that Esther asked her to wait (I have a strong suspicion that this same woman was the one who wrote a negative comment about Esther, above). In general, though, most of the other candidates that I met–even those who were not having any luck finding a position–were friendly, collegial, encouraging, and eager to network and share information. The AASSA orientation meeting was very welcoming and it did put me at ease, especially because I did not really hear any information that I had not read or heard about before. I was kind of surprised to hear how uninformed some candidates’ questions seemed to sound, but then, in talking to other candidates, I met some people who were not 100% certain that they really wanted to teach overseas, or who were coming as a long-shot because of circumstances working against them (only 1 or 2 positions in their field, non-teaching spouse, possible age discrimination, etc.). The sign-up session was stressful and too crowded, but enough has been said about that. What helped me is that I had a strategy–I came early and was one of the first in the door. I also had made contact with school directors beforehand and had a prioritized list in my head of which schools I wanted to score interviews with. I did manage to set up 5 interviews, and had 2 positions offered to me by the end of the day Friday, one of which I accepted. I had not expected to be quite so successful! I suppose what helped is that I teach a popular subject and that I was willing to accept a pay package at the lower end of the spectrum, because even so I know I will be able to save money. My main concern was getting my foot in the door of international k-12 teaching and finding the best fit, which I believe I did. Other comments about the fair– I did not stay in the hotel as I had family nearby, but I appreciated that it was near the MARTA station so that I didn’t have to take taxis back and forth. Also, the hotel was lovely and had plenty of comfortable places to have while away the time between interviews, and the wireless internet worked in most of them. Anyway, if I have to attend another job fair in the future, I will definitely put AASSA at the top of my list!

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