Saudi Arabia 3/10
This was an active fair with about 50 schools and about 250 teachers. Most of the schools seemed eager to hire and some did so on the spot. It was nice to note that most schools were courteous and friendly even if they didn’t seem all that interested in a candidate. This really helps those who were having a difficult time at what is already a hectic and fast-paced fair. However, the one large ballroom setup for the interview signup sessions reduced the more intimate quality of the old SEARCH job fair style to one more like the CIS ‘cattle-market’ stampede.
From what I could tell, the fair was successful as I did see a lot of smiling faces on both days and about 5-7 interviews on most teachers’ lists. I felt a little sorry for those schools with Arab interviewers as they were at a clear disadvantage compared to the ‘snap ’em up while you can’ Western interviewers who were already signing contracts on the first day while their Middle Eastern counterparts were inviting potential hirees to have a look at their school first some time. When a couple of clearly interested schools said on the first day that they would get back to me the next day, I apologized and said that there was already one contract offer from a school that I would have to decide on early the next day. One school decided to get back to me earlier and the other must have felt slighted/bested and never bothered to respond. Teachers can’t be blamed for unintentionally pushing a slow decider since a contract offer in hand is usually much better than some potential offer that may or may not materialize. In the end, it was an easy decision for me as I took the only offer that materialized on the second day. I am delighted it is from a good school as well.
Here are a few things that I would change. Dave is a good old bloke but he really needs to be less stingy with his candidates. Dave and the hotel made a lot of money in two days. As you can tell from the pace, WiFi is essential and should have been made available free of charge. He announced that there would be food at the mixer. Saying this in the Middle East comes with an obligation. Suffice it to say that meeting that with one drink and a little bit of finger food fell so short of the mark that many candidates left snubbed by the culinary slight and lack of proper hosting.
Although some of the above points are trite, together they do present a less than positive image of SEARCH as embodied by Dave and a somewhat dismissive attitude towards the teaching stiffs that could easily be corrected. There is growing disrespect towards teachers and the profession and it was sad to see some of that reflected at this job fair.
On a final note, if you are interested in the Middle East, are a teaching couple and have IB experience, you are as likely to get a job offer here as anywhere else.
The event was organized very well. David and Phil did a wonderful job. Unfortunately, several schools did not show and those that did had fewer jobs available than anticipated. The Renaissance Hotel was the perfect venue; its size and layout were just right. On the downside… There was only 1 public bathroom and it was located in the hinterlands away from all the other activities. Internet access was not free and was QUITE expensive and a blank CD was nearly US$5 from the business center. The time allotted to arrange interviews was just about right, but the presentations overlapped with the interviews which caused some to miss presentations they wanted to see. Perhaps it would have been better to have a set presentation time blocked off the schedule and then begin the interviews afterwards.