Up Front and Personal: A Diary From the Recruiting Fair Front
In this one-of-a-kind recruiting fair diary by an ISR reader and seasoned International Educator, “Shadowjack” gets up-front and personal relating his experiences at the 2013 Search (Bangkok) Recruiting Fair.
From personal impressions and well-honed strategies, to insightful reflections and lessons learned, this author captures the emotional turbulence he and other candidates experience as they navigate towards an International teaching position. If you’re searching for information on how to prepare for an upcoming recruiting fair, this is as close as you’re going to get without sweating it out, literally, at the recruiting fair itself.
So here we go! The plane has touched down at Dong Muang Airport in Bangkok and we’ll hit the ground running! After all, we have an 11-hour flight behind us and thousands of dollars already invested in our efforts to land a teaching position! Let the adventure begin!
Got to the hotel where the fair will take place earlier today. By late afternoon, I began to see obvious international educators in the halls and elevators, and even struck up a few conversations. It reinforced for me how small the International School circuit really is.
By about 5 PM, the bar on the ground floor was full of candidates pre-meeting with others (it might have been superintendents or directors – then again, it might not have been…) The table dance went on for the next few hours, but by 9:00 PM the bar was clear and the lobby almost cleared.
Tomorrow starts the big grind. I am ready to take it all in and not let it sweep me away. Stay tuned…
Day 1 : “At this point DO NOT PANIC. I have talked with several of my colleagues who are fantastic teachers – if I were recruiting I would hire them on the spot – but they have heard nothing. Zippo. Zilch. Understand that fairs are very hit and miss.”
So today began with a nice buffet breakfast (yes, we sprang and stayed at the job fair hotel. Pricey, but worth it, as you can keep stuff in your room and retire there if need be (although we didn’t).
After a solid breakfast and running into old acquaintances from schools years ago (1998-2000), we hit the check-in period from 10:30 to 11:30. Grabbed our name tags, lanyard and package and headed for the candidates hall – which was jam-packed with candidates already, filling out yellow “prospect slips,” asking for an appointment/meeting with a school and the position interested in. As we circulated around the (largish) room, hotel employees continued to add school postings on large pieces of easel paper.
My thoughts on this part – stake out your seat EARLY – put a coat, bottle of water and a small notepad in front of your seat and on the chair. Both Mrs. Shadowjack and I didn’t do this. Instead we circled the room looking at all the jobs posted (these are the most up-to-date and might not match the postings available on Search itself) and seeing which ones matched up with us. Luckily for us, we had already had an interview the night before the fair as well as contact from a school asking us to book an interview, so we felt not too bad right off the bat.
After making a note of the schools (and sometimes having to go back to list the positions that suited us, as I had forgotten to do so – NOTE TO SELF – make a table page in Word. School – Country – Positions) we set out to complete our yellow slips, organize our CVs and paperclip the CVs and yellow slips together. 21 schools later, we were done.
This took us from 10:30 until 1:15. So…if you are serious about not limiting yourself and open to many schools, remember it will take time (single teachers, you will likely find it easier!). We chatted as well with teachers from Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar as we all went through the process – it was interesting to swap stories. WE ALSO MISSED THE CANDIDATE ORIENTATION – but, don’t fret too much. If you are not a type A worry wart, you can figure out how things work.
After that, we headed out to put our packages in the school folders (along with a bunch of other teachers). This took some time as you queued in the various lines behind other teachers. Then, it was time to sort out which school presentations we would go to.
This was interesting. Some presentations overlapped at the same time, so we had to prioritize a bit. Sadly, we missed some (sorry Dubai school!), but we also went to some others in locations we hadn’t considered and they seemed very interesting. I would recommend going to as many of these as you can – it allows you to network with school heads and principals as well as correct any misunderstandings in your applications (talked with one recruiter who was unaware of the full extent of my experience, who told me to come see him tomorrow at his table. He mentioned having put something already in my mailbox, which was a thanks/no thanks. Hopefully I changed his mind with our conversation!).
Throughout the day, you are free to take a quick second to check your file folder. My advice – Wait. Often the recruiters have not had time to go through their whole stack of applications. Also, usually the first ones you get are rejections. Nicely phrased, but rejections nonetheless. At least if the school hasn’t presented yet, you can cross it off your attendance plans (as we did for a few).
So far, 21 or 22 yellow slips put in, four schools saying no thanks. Hopefully tomorrow we will find out in the morning whether anybody besides the two schools wants to interview us.
At this point DO NOT PANIC! I have talked with several of my colleagues who are fantastic teachers – if I were recruiting I would hire them on the spot – but they have heard nothing. Zippo. Zilch. Understand that fairs are very hit and miss. This year there might not be that great combination of positions for you and your wife/husband. It might not be posted at this particular fair. Your school of choice might not be in attendance. Your dream job might have already been filled before the fair. My advice: Keep an open mind and go listen to some of the schools in intriguing places that you know nothing about…talk to the recruiter and see what happens. We have learned a lot by sitting through presentations today.
After all of that we were fried. Baked. Zonked. So down to the bar/restaurant we went and had a drink and some dinner, and then went up to find the rejection letters (POLITE rejection letters) and planned a bit of our day tomorrow.
Oh yes, also we did one last scan through the candidates’ lounge where schools post their openings to see if any new schools/changes had been posted. There were some schools up we had not seen, as well as a notice near the teacher files stating the names of people who had “crashed” the fair and put applications in schools’ files without being Search candidates. Bad, bad teachers! I am sure that Search is not going to like you for a few years!
Oh – we also strategized after dinner about which school tables we would hit up first in the interview sign-ups tomorrow. We will re-do this after the morning, when hopefully we get some schools WANTING to interview us besides the two who have already expressed interest. That will change our plans, I’m sure. That’s it. Now it is almost midnight in Bangkok and I am off to bed. Stay tuned tomorrow night because I will post our experiences of DAY TWO of the fair. Good night – and good luck to all my fellow candidates – even those competing for the same openings as me and the Mrs.
Day 2: At 8:00 AM, the second round of school presentations start again. Before this, we checked our mailboxes. We had four – count ’em – four – thanks-but-no-thanks letters. We wrote those off. Most of them weren’t a good fit anyways.
This is actually Day Two of the fair proper, but the third day we have been dealing with seeking jobs at international schools. Today is the BIG DAY – the day where you actually sit down and try to sell yourself to recruiters who have either (a) already contacted you to sign up for an interview; or (b) who you talked to during presentation times and who seemed interested; or (c) no idea who the heck you are, except you put a CV in their file folder and who may or may not be interested in you at all.
As an aside – Is it worth it to put together a package for recruiters about us and put it in their file folders? Sort of a ‘cold call’ so to speak? The answer is unequivocally, “YES!”. Even if it opens only ONE door, it is still worth it.
In my opinion, at this point all you are trying to do is sell yourself to the recruiters as a serious candidate worthy of further consideration. You have about 30 seconds to 1 minute to do this before they need to move on to the next candidate, especially with those desirable “top target” schools. We brought 25 CVs each to use for this, and we used almost all of them.
About your CV package – my advice is to scrap the cover letter entirely. It doesn’t get read and is a waste of paper. Far better is to format your CV to quickly highlight your skills, strengths, experiences and training (personal info, training, skills, strengths, experiences). At the end we put little factoids about ourselves and our lives to show us as rounded people. It helps to balance all the ‘serious’ stuff and show you as a whole person. That’s my two cents on CV packages.
So we went down, had a nice breakfast and we happened to run into a few recruiters whose schools we were interested in and whom we had talked to yesterday. This is where a good memory for names is essential. Guaranteed that most recruiters will remember you – IF you remember their name. In fact, if they don’t, they will ask you your name again :-) This ensures they do know you at that all-important sign-up session.
After breakfast, we went back up to our room (this is another reason why staying at the hotel is essential, in my opinion – the ability to transition quickly from hotel breakfast/contacts to your room to finalize your daily preparation to heading down to more presentations. If you don’t have a room at the hotel, you really have no place to go to except the areas with all the other candidates. And that can become a not-so-nice place if you are not a consistently upbeat, positive person. In my opinion – GET A ROOM AT THE HOTEL!
So, at 8:00 AM, the second round of school presentations start again. Before this, we checked our mailboxes. We had four – count ’em – four – thanks-but-no-thanks letters. We wrote those off. Most of them weren’t a good fit anyways, but paper is cheap and we are at the fair anyways, so it costs us nothing to go to their school presentation. Last night we pre-selected our presentations beforehand, so we started right in.
Even though we had our schedule, we decided at the last minute to make some changes. We went to some out-of-the-way presentations and some “big school” presentations. After, we made it a point to introduce ourselves and express our interest in their schools. One REALLY big school in China was very gracious and while not promising anything, remembered names and said to come see them at the sign-up. Another school we had not considered seriously (although we had submitted CV packages), ended up chatting with us and promised to put a slip in our box regarding interview sign-up.
After a few of those, and checking our box every break (nobody loved us at this point. There was nothing in the box), it was getting time for the interview sign-up, which took place in the ballroom and the foyer outside the ballroom. The admin candidates went in at 12:30. Teaching candidates started entering at 1:00. There were perhaps 100 or so admin candidates and about 450 teaching candidates.
GET IN LINE EARLY! We went to stand in line at 11:50. We were among the first six in the teacher candidate line. By 12:30 the line stretched all the way down the hall to the teachers’ lounge! By 1:00 it was around the corner. If you want to strike first at those first-tier schools, it is important to get in there early.
The schools in the foyer were posted, so you knew where they were (you could walk around the foyer prior to 12:00 noon, so we checked out who was outside the hall. These were smaller schools in China and elsewhere). Inside the hall, the schools were in alphabetical order, first by country, then by school name.
At 12:57 (by my watch) the teacher candidates started entering the hall. Mrs. Shadowjack went one way to arrange an interview with one of our top choices (who had sent an email asking us to sign up) and I headed to the really big school in China and told them I wanted to be their next X (insert subject here) teacher. The director was very honest with me (and they will be. They don’t have time to waste at these big schools) and said that initial interview spots were for candidates they had asked to interview and that it would be tough to see me. However, he asked me to keep in touch. He was interested, but I was low subject priority. OK – at least my name and interest was known. Away I went and found Mrs. Shadowjack waiting for me as the other school wanted to see us both. Mission accomplished, interview booked. Then it was off to our third choice school. Quick conversation, interview booked (for a slightly different position than what I was REALLY interested in, but still a great school in a great place and a really interesting, solid position.
As you can see, we prioritized our interest and hit up our first-choice schools immediately. Our goal was to try and BEAT all the candidates who had paper slips inviting them to interview. That way, at least we were on the dance card, so to speak. We continued around the room (and did I mention that while we were in line, the very interesting school we hadn’t really considered put a slip inviting us to interview?) and ended up with eight confirmed interviews in places we would definitely consider going, doing jobs we definitely would do.
It was an exhausting hour and a half as we sold ourselves time after time to recruiters, many of whom didn’t know us. We also had some rejections, pleasant as they were. Saudi Aramco only had elementary positions left in our fields. Doha hadn’t really looked at our CVs, but promised to get back to us within a day. Others, the person who made recruiting interview decisions wasn’t there at the moment, but would be back. However – we didn’t give up, went back to those schools whose recruiters were absent and tried to use our minute to sell ourselves. Throughout all this, we strongly kept in mind that although we were professionals with skills, we could not MAKE schools like us or want to interview us. We could only try to sell ourselves. Also keep in mind that school recruiters can SMELL desperation. This is why it is important to know your skills, your strengths and weaknesses and play to the first two while staying away from the latter.
By the way, remember that school yesterday who had already put the card in our box saying thanks-but-no- thanks? The one we went to the presentation and chatted with the recruiters afterwards? Well, we got an interview with them. This is another reason why presentation attendance is SO important if you are not what I would call a “golden” candidate (married couple, one in ultra-high-needs-hard-to-fill-positions and the other with a great skill set making him/her versatile and easy to fit).
We had planned on attending yet more presentations in the afternoon (they continue after interview sign-up) but found we had interviews booked during presentation times.
When you go to the interview itself, it is usually in candidates’ rooms. The recruiting team will be there and you and your spouse will go in. Sometimes the interview will be split and one recruiter will talk to one spouse. Other times, the recruiters will talk to both of you, as happened with Mrs. Shadowjack and myself through all our interviews today.
Also, when you go to the interview, you usually wait outside the room door. About 3 minutes before the interview, gently knock 3 or 4 times, firm, but quiet. Usually the previous candidate(s) will exit and they will take a minute or two to prepare for you and then invite you in.
The first interview was pretty open and frank. Remember, schools are going to spend a lot of money on you if they hire you, so they want to make sure you are a good fit. DO YOUR HOMEWORK ON THE SCHOOL, THE CITY, AND THE COUNTRY! Because they didn’t have an exact curricular fit, I had to spend half an hour researching the appropriate curriculum and review to see if I could deliver it. DO NOT LIE ABOUT YOUR YOUR ABILITY TO TEACH A CURRICULUM. Be honest. While you might not get THAT job, the recruiter remembers things like your honesty and might have a job opening come up in your area – and believe me, he will call on the off-chance you haven’t been picked up by someone else. HONESTY in interviews IS KEY. This curriculum was similar to what I had taught in the past, but not exact. However, I am confident in my ability to deliver it, and we discussed this. I was honest, and he liked that.
The second interview was a real cold-call. I had no idea this particular position was open before the fair. But – nothing ventured, nothing gained! Again, I was honest about my skill set, ability set, and philosophy. It was another good interview. They told me they would get back to me tomorrow about a follow-up. If you hear this from a recruiter, it is NOT a brush off. If they liked you enough to interview you, they are NOT going to brush you off by saying they will get back to you. If they feel that you are not the candidate for the job, they will tell you that they prefer to go in another direction, and wish you good luck. If they are interviewing others, they will tell you they are interviewing others. This is what we were told, so we are hoping for a call back for a second interview.
The third interview, at a truly AMAZING school in Asia was wonderful. However, again, they are still in early stages of recruiting and we were not a perfect fit. As a married couple, sometimes this happens. Roll with it. Usually, if they still express interest, they WANT to fit you in, but haven’t figured out HOW yet. Often, that falls into place as the other hires get done. So again, we are hoping for a call back.
With that done, we were free to check our file again (nobody loved us, once more) and then it was out to dinner. I feel very lucky. We have known people who have gone to the fair and had NO interviews. Going in, apart from our pre-fair interview, we had no clue how we would do. Keep in mind, if this is you, do NOT panic! Don’t be desperate. Try to network, sell yourself, look for late openings posted, check out SearchAssociates for updates in your positions, and plan ahead to go to another fair. My friends went to Bangkok last year – great people, great teachers, no interviews. Went to another fair shortly afterwards, two interviews, followup and Skyping and got a job offer for ONE of them. They took the chance, accepted, and in late Spring were asked by the school if the spouse was interested in a newly-opened job due to a sudden resignation. In the end, it all worked out.
If it doesn’t, there are always the summer fairs, which are sparsely attended and which, although the locations/schools are not always the best, will keep you teaching until you are ready to go out recruiting again.
Tomorrow stay tuned for Day Four (really, Day Three). I will post my observations about the fair, the mood and atmosphere, and continue our story of interviewing for positions. Tomorrow, we face four more interviews with four really interesting schools in very different locations. Again, we were ‘cold calls’ for these schools and we will use our half-hour interview (interviews are usually in half-hour slots) to sell ourselves.
Day 3: The rest of the day was spent waiting to see if anybody dropped a note into our file and hoping for a phone call or email. LOL – this IS the reality for a lot of teachers at this stage of the day. Expect it.
Whew! Today is definitely the roller coaster ride day for everybody! By the end of the day, some people will have a sense that the fair was a waste of time; others will have multiple job offers to choose from, and others will still be waiting for that elusive offer to appear and make it all worthwhile.
Once again, Mrs. Shadowjack and I got up early (the middle two days are early rising days due to interviews) and headed down to breakfast. Some great news – teaching colleagues of ours accepted an offer to a lovely school in a great location. I am so happy for them! By the way, the buffet breakfast which is included in your room at the Royal Orchid is superb. We eat breakfast and then don’t eat again until dinner.
Once that was done, it was off to our first interview at 8:30. This was for a smaller school in a nice location, but definitely not our first choice. However, the community was interesting and we liked the director and his assistant. Again it went well. However, and this is the frustrating part for so many of the candidates, no immediate offers were forthcoming. At the same time, nothing was said about “thanks, but no thanks,” so we know we are doing SOMETHING right.
After that it was a rush to our next interview at 9:00 with a fantastic-looking school in an unexpectedly great location. Wow! The director was very honest about the school and employment for Mrs. Shadowjack, and I think we again had a good interview. Thanks were given, out the door we went, and then it was an hour until our second-to-last interview of the day. This was the ‘dream job’ for me and a good opportunity for Mrs. Shadowjack. The interview went really well, so we will see what happens. A mention was made of checking with references, so that sounds promising…but again, nothing concrete. It can get soooo frustrating when you know the recruiters WANT to see you, the interview goes well, and then…nothing. Be strong! Nothing might ever come of any of the interviews we did, but each one was a learning experience.
Finally, later, we met with the school I mentioned where going to the presentation made a big difference in gaining an interview. Again, we had a good interview, but it was explained to us that the school needed to put other pieces of hiring together before it would be in a position to make a decision on us. So… we were told to keep in touch and that they should know more after the next fair in London.
The rest of the day was spent waiting to see if anybody dropped a note into our file and hoping for a phone call or email. LOL – this IS the reality for a lot of teachers at this stage of the day. Expect it. Periodically we went to check our file and walked around the candidate room. What we saw was a mix of happy candidates, candidates filling out yet more interview requests (likely because they were in our boat, not having a firm offer, and starting to expand their search), candidates Skyping, chatting, and more.
This was it. The reality check. This period of the fair, IF you have NO job offers, will test you. Again, understand that the fair is NOT a guarantee of a job. If you know that coming in, you will understand that you should perhaps have a fall-back fair. Another fair with a different mix (sort of like American Idol where people go back the next year, or to another city the same year of auditions) can yield different results, as I illustrated with my friends’ story.
After 2 1/2 hours of sitting, it was time to head down to the candidates’/recruiters’ reception. You have paid for this – keep the drink ticket from your fair package, wear your name tag and chat with everybody. Don’t actively go searching out recruiters, but don’t shy away. It is another chance to connect.
We met some really nice people and reconnected with others we had talked with at the fair. It was pretty low-key. We found out more colleagues had received job offers at a school, one that I know through other former colleagues is stellar. Again, I was really happy for them. Other colleagues did not fare so well and are in the same boat we are – the waiting boat.
On the way back, we checked our file folder again – and THIS time were rewarded by a message from one of the schools we had interviewed with that they were going to continue looking, but they wanted me to keep in touch. At this point I am getting the feeling of “ever the bridesmaid, never the bride”. But, with a follow-up interview tomorrow and another interview later tomorrow, we are still staying positive. It sounds like SOMETHING will happen for us in terms of job offers – just not at the fair itself. Definitely, though, if we do get an offer after the fair, it will be the fair that is the catalyst for it.
With that, it is off to bed, up early for a big breakfast and another interview, and then later another interview. We are hoping we will also wake up and find requests for contact from some of our other schools. Honestly, we are blessed to have so much interest and no matter which offer we get and accept, we will be going there gladly, with no second thoughts.
Good luck to all my fellow candidates still waiting to hear!
Day 4: Another hour and a half of waiting. Trying to avoid the candidate lounge because it wasn’t full of happy people and some people had taken it a bit hard. I just didn’t want to be there. So the bar and the lobby were where we waited it out…
WHEW! Day Four, for those who did not land jobs on days 1, 2, or 3, is INTENSE. It can eat you up, make you stew over every conversation, comment, and question you had, made, and answered/asked during the first three days. Here is our day…
Again, start your day early if you are still looking. It was up before 7, down to breakfast at 8, and then ready for interviews (fortunately, I still had two interviews to go, with one being a follow-up). As an aside, when Mrs. Shadowjack and myself came down to the buffet on the ground floor, the maitre’d was corraling people and taking them to the restaurant upstairs where they had set up a backup buffet because it’s “too busy. Too many people downstairs. No room.” It was nice, but not AS nice…so note to self. On the last day, go down at 7:30, not 8 as everybody will want breakfast before checking out.
On to the main events! So as mentioned, I have been in contact with another school prior to the fair. The first action in the morning was to make contact with the director and arrange a time to talk on the phone. That done, it was back upstairs to meet with the director of a school we interviewed with the previous day. This one was longer than the first interview – I would say it went on about an hour and a half. Very concrete and thorough conversation about teaching, teaching at this school in particular, the students, philosophy, approaches, outcomes, and more. After the interview was over, Mrs. Shadowjack and I both agreed we really liked the school. We agreed to touch base before we left the fair, and then out in the hallway we went.
Then it was down to the room to pack and check out. Note to self: Have almost everything packed the night before next time! However, while we started doing this, it came time for the next interview with a smaller school in a warm climate. This interview came on a cold-call at interview sign-ups and was with a school that wasn’t on our radar before the fair. But we liked the presentation and the people seemed genuine and genuinely interested in students and learning. So…again, about 45 minutes, good dialogue and sharing of ideas and experiences. Honesty on both sides. When asked where I stood in relation to the school, I was honest. Liked the school, liked the people I met, but I would lie to say it was my dream job. However, it wasn’t a “desperation” interview either. In the end, we agreed to keep in touch and I think we all sensed we had a mutual interest, but I was waiting to hear from other schools…
And…that was it. End of interviews. No job offers, but a call with a school I had talked with prior to the fair…
Well, what a difference a phone call makes! It was clear I was wanted…but…there was still the allure of the school I interviewed with earlier, even though nothing formal had come of it. So…agreement to touch base later in the afternoon.
Then it was waiting….waiting….and hearing nothing…Finally, I decided to be proactive, picked up the phone and called the room. I learned something new today – recruiters are about you wanting the job as much as they want to offer it to you. If they sense any sort of reserve or hesitation, they will be loathe to make you an offer. They really do want teachers who DESIRE to be at their school, not just teachers who are SETTLING for their school. Boy, was I nervous when I called the room! Had I blown it? Would there be anybody there to answer the phone? The relief and nervousness when the recruiter answered the phone was immense and I don’t think my nervousness showed as I asked if it was possible to talk “one more time”.
End result, another hour and a half of waiting. Trying to avoid the candidate lounge because it wasn’t full of happy people and some people had taken it a bit hard. I just didn’t want to be there. So the bar and the lobby were where we waited it out as we watched candidates checking out and leaving the fair – many with jobs, but some without. We again heard that there were candidates who, like my friends a different year, had not received a single interview.
Finally, it was time for the meeting and back up the elevator we went. Again, keeping our nerves under control, we faced the recruiter again and he looked happy to see us. A good sign. In the end, simple as that, after I expressed my interest and desire to be at his school (and it had been clear to me that he was interested in me, too), a job offer was made. And accepted. Contracts were produced and signed. Procedures for arranging everything that needed to be arranged were briefly covered, to be fully covered in another month or so. And out walked Mrs. Shadowjack and I, papers in hand, very very happy! Not happy because we landed a job, but because of the lesson we learned. In the end, decide where you want to be and pursue it. Learn about it. Look at all the angles – not just people’s perceptions, but what the reality would be for YOU. We are going to a place that many others would likely not even consider, but it really is an AMAZING place. Yes, there are negatives, but every place has its negatives despite what people might think.
The next step was letting the recruiter who was waiting for us know we had accepted elsewhere. After a brief conversation in which he seemed genuinely happy for us (and again, directors WANT teachers who DESIRE to teach at their school), we were at the concierge, collecting our stored luggage and heading off to the airport.
Congratulations to everybody who was successful! To those who weren’t, do not beat yourself up too much. Remember my colleagues who went a few years back, didn’t get a single interview in Bangkok, but went to another fair and landed jobs. And then get out there and start connecting again.
To all of you who have job fairs coming up – good luck to you and happy recruiting. I hope my posting has made your job easier.
Shadowjack and Mrs. Shadowjack
Looking Back: When sending CVs to recruiters, I would scrap the cover letter. Instead, put a simple statement of teaching philosophy, followed by a 1-page ‘Highlights Sheet’ which highlights all relevant experience.
So here we are now, three days post-BKK Fair. Now that I have collected myself a bit, caught up on my teaching duties, gotten down to planning next semester, I thought I would reflect a bit more on my experiences and what I might change up about it.
First off, I would definitely STAY AT THE FAIR HOTEL again. The convenience of being there and having a room to retire to was wonderful.
Second, there are THINGS I WOULD CHANGE pre-fair:
1. When sending CV’s to recruiters, I would scrap the cover letter. Instead I would put a simple statement of teaching philosophy followed by a 1-page ‘Highlights Sheet’ which highlights my relevant experience. I would tailor this for the job applied for (in case of having multiple teaching areas).
2. I would make better use of my network of former colleagues earlier in the year. This time I honestly wanted to see what nibbles I would get just going in cold. I know from seeing others at the fair (and honestly, I did contact one friend later in the fall about one school, but that was it) that personal contacts at schools played a role for many in landing that interview/possible job offer.
3. For schools at the fair, I would hit them with the same 1-page Highlights Sheet, in color, on nice quality paper.
4. I would also take nice notepaper to attach a personal note to each interview request I put into their folders.
At the Fair itself, I WOULD CHANGE the FOLLOWING:
5. I would be more aggressive about marketing ourselves post-interview. I think we did a good job landing interviews and we interviewed well for all the schools that we met with, but our follow-up wasn’t that good. I learned that if you are really interested in a school, you need to let them KNOW that. A simple thank you for the interview, in retrospect, seems to perhaps indicate that you are not set on the school. Using direct statements and asking direct questions would have been better (I.E. We are so impressed by your school and the interview process. What do we need to do to make this happen/make this work)? That puts the ball back in their court, especially when you can tell they are interested in you (as we could at most of our interviews).
6. I would not hesitate to contact the interviewers again, either personally or via a phone call to their room. Notes are nice, but if you really want the job, a single phone call can provide the feedback that helps you realize that an offer is going to happen or not going to happen.
This was the situation with the school we ended up at. Had we not made that call, I don’t think we would have ended up there.
NOTE – 1 CALL. ONCE. Then move on.
I am sure I am missing some other things I should have done (like tracked schools better via spreadsheets for all the features), but this is the major lessons we learned from our first fair.
Hope it is helpful to everybody else heading to a fair for the first time!
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