In response to the comments made by Switzerland, I attended the fair, received a good appointment and thought it was well organized and most beneficial as so many teachers I met and spoke with received job offers by the end of the first day of interviews (Saturday). I disagree with a few of the comments Switzerland made. The vacancy list did not come out late Friday night but after the candidate orientation around 7pm as we were leaving the briefing.
There were over 25 computers provided for the teachers in the candidate resource room which was rarely crowded as can be seen on the photo gallery on the CIS home page (most teachers were in interviews). According to several recruiters I spoke with at the social evening on Saturday night, 45% of the candidates were experienced international teachers and 55% were as the previous reader noted “newbies”.
Overall great value when one considers CIS is not a commercial business but an international education service that does not charge teachers a fee to register or to attend the CIS LRC.
The fair had a few serious organizational flaws, compared to three others I have been to over the years.
The vacancy list, promised at various times, finally came out late on Friday night. It was nowhere close to accurate, and most attendees did not realize this. I did because my own job and a few others I knew of were not advertised, and a few recruiters had contacted me about vacancies that did not appear on the list. So, to find the real vacancies, you had to wander around during sign-up and read every sign. It was easy to miss a few. (This problem was felt more by recruiters who found that good candidates did not know about their openings.)
Sign-up sessions were held in three woefully inadequate rooms. Recruiters were jammed together, so you might wait in a line only to find out you were in the wrong line when you got to the front of it. Far too many people in far too small a space meant lots of time lost trying to navigate from place to place, because you were almost always having to cut through lines to get around.
If WiFi had been available, the issue of computers would have solved itself. The organizer of the fair, when asked about this, seemed baffled by the very question itself.
Food/drink was available for sale, but couldn’t CIS have at least have provided free water? These were long hard days for everyone, so at least some water would have made the situation a little more bearable.
Management of interviews was pretty good overall. About 80% of candidates seemed to be newbies, so getting interviews was not difficult for experienced teachers. Communication between recruiters and candidates was also good, though if CIS had set up some sort of electronic system, this might have been more efficient and greener (though the lack of computers would then have to have been addressed).
The ethical guidelines CIS adopted were helpful. Some recruiters complained that others were not adhering to the one of not offering contracts until the last day, so maybe that one should have been scrapped. But unlike Search and ISS, there seemed to be a fairly high level of integrity among the schools here, probably because, unlike Search and ISS, this is actually a service and not a money-making venture for the holders of the fair.
I thought this was good fair, in the fact that since it was rather early in the season, there were still a lot of jobs available. I thought the process was well organized, and that the information session Friday night was fantastic, especially for teachers new to the international scene. There were many information sessions by a variety of schools, although some schools located in the same city or country had fairs at the same time which didn’t seem too fair. Some improvements I would recommend would be to improve the online registration and application process. A lot of my information was entered in incorrectly and I know other people who had problems as well. I found it tricky to navigate the site in general, as well as very limited information on schools prior to the fair (but I guess you get what you pay for since the fair is free). I also thought computers should have been available Friday, as well as the vacancy list. It was not available until late Friday night. But overall, it seemed like a lot of people were having positive experiences and either getting hired that weekend or during follow up interviews later in the week via Skype or the telephone. As for me, I had been doing a lot of Skype interviews prior to the fair and already had a job offer before arriving. I talked to a few schools at the fair but ended up accepting my previous offer. I would recommend this fair though. It has a good feel to it, and people seemed happy.
United States 1/29
I thought the fair was well-organized and the overall atmosphere was positive. I didn’t know what to expect because last year I had quite a negative experience at a recruitment fair (albeit a different fair in the U.S.) in that most jobs posted before the fair were no longer vacant once the fair started. At the CIS LRC, I was happy to find that the majority of the positions I had noticed were still available as well as a few last minute surprises.
One thing I found odd was that many administrators were scheduling 15 minute interviews and not offering second interviews unless you really pushed for it.
All in all I think I had about 8 or 9 serious interviews and 1 informational interview. I would definitely recommend this fair for anyone interested in overseas teaching, though be aware that it is somewhat geared towards teacher with IB experience. I ended up with one offer, which was one of my top choices, and I accepted it happily
United Kingdom 1/26
This was my first fair, so a completely new experience but on the whole I would say it was well-organised and all the staff were very helpful. Directions to various rooms were good and the briefing on Friday was useful for those venturing for the first time into international teaching as were the various schools presentations. Communication worked well, if you remembered to check your mail folder regularly. It would have been good to have a few more computers available in the Candidates’ lounge but I appreciated the fact that you could get a reasonably priced cup of coffee there. The rooms were crowded at interview sign-up time but that would be hard to avoid and everyone was very cheerful, so it was no hardship. Most schools seemed to be hiring, with some having already filled quite a few posts and a few new ones appearing on Saturday morning, a bit of a lottery and the final vacancy list was not available to candidates on Friday evening as originally promised.
I would have preferred it to be made clear that the fair really ends on Sunday (the second full day), not sure what the Monday morning interview slots were for as I had had interviews and follow-ups by Sunday pm, so was free by Sunday evening. Overall a very positive experience and I got a job, too!
I’ve been to two other job fairs and I have to say that this seemed to be well organized. There was some congestion around some of the tables, and I’m not sure, given the space available, how it could have been avoided. There were quite a few jobs available in my subject area, but I found it disappointing that some recruiters had already filled positions before we even got there. I also found some recruiters seemed to have a “leave your resume and I’ll get back to you” attitude. I had a lot of interviews and two offers but turned both down because of the location. Most of the schools there were definitely hiring, though I encountered a couple that seemed to be hedging their bets so to speak. While there were a lot of candidates, it didn’t feel like it was the “meat market” I’ve heard some fairs are. Unfortunately, while the fair is posted as being a two-and-a-half day event, it was pretty much all over by noon the second day. I would suggest that if the organizers are going to advertise it as a two-and-a-half day event, that they make sure schools are there for two-and-a-half for interviews, not trying to jamb all interviews into one day, then leaving by noon the next.
Organization was good, but despite all of my paperwork and references being sent in weeks before the deadline, they said they didn’t get them until later and so I was only “invited” to the fair about two weeks before the event, which made it difficult to plan for, especially since none of the information about the schedule (registration times, sign-ups, interview times, etc.) was posted until you could access that information as a “confirmed candidate”.
120 schools and nearly 500 candidates made for a bit of a frenzied experience, and in my field there ended up being very few jobs, and the two that I actually went to the fair specifically to apply for had already been filled before this fair even started. The whole concept of the international schools’ job fairs is such a strange mixture of luck, chance, hard-work, preparation, spontaneity, elation and disappointment… At least this fair does not charge the high registration and placement fees that some do.
The conference rooms for sign-up morning were too small and crowded, but the hotel was decent for the interviews. There was a nice-sized “candidate resource room” with tables, refreshments and computers provided starting the second day (the day after registration). It seemed like LOTS of jobs had already been filled before this job fair, so that was disappointing, but all part of the lottery… I have never been to another job fair so could not compare it to others in size or “success” in job placement. It seemed well represented by European schools and Asian schools, and all of them seemed eager to fill their positions ASAP! I guess I would recommend this fair, and since it is “free”, it makes it less disappointing when you arrive to find so few positions available for which to interview. A possibility at any fair even if you pay a high fee!