Tag Archives: educational recruitment fairs

Let’s Make a Deal

783px-Lets_make_a_deal_weekly_primetimeThree doors.

In the 1970’s, when I was a teenager in southern Missouri, I remember a favorite TV show called Let’s Make a Deal. The host, Monty Hall, would wander through the audience and select random people to trade something in that they wore, or brought to the show, for a chance to win a much nicer prize. The contestant would continue to trade until a great prize was secured behind Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3. These lavish prizes might be a kitchen appliance, a new car or a dream vacation. But there was also the possibility of trading and getting a Zonk! A Zonk was an undesirable prize such as fake money or silly, low value items. To gain Monty’s attention, hopeful contestants would wear terrific costumes and cheer and shout in hopes of being selected to play the game.

This remembered scenario reminds me of my own situation.

An international teacher begins searching for jobs in late autumn for the following year. Job recruitment fairs start in December and January and for many teachers, their teaching career is a series of two or three year posts in a variety of countries. Faculty members and administrators move around as much as the students and their families do. The teacher starts playing Let’s Make a Deal as the hopeful contestant, dressing up cover letters and resumes in ways to gain attention.

That’s where I find myself now. As an international teacher, teaching inquiry methods, I’m curious myself what lies ahead behind the three doors. I’ve been making lists: What are the positives and what are the negatives? In other words, what would I like to trade in? Since the contract began, what could I live without? What would I want to keep? What has worked, what has not? What have I learned? What is now important to me that I was unaware of initially? Once the process has commenced, and the recruiting company has been paid, a teacher gain access to other schools that daily post their needs for the following year. “Which door will I pick? What if the door I pick turns out to be a Zonk? But what if it is a better prize?”

I’ve been able to fulfill my heart’s desire by teaching in an international school in one of the great cities of the world. I traded in an American lifestyle that I had become complacent with and I’ll never regret it. I’m now thinking about the trade again and am peeking behind the doors to see the prizes. Door #1’s prize is to stay put. Continue to build an art program for over 50 nationalities of students that I have developed a great love for. The prize behind Door #2 is the likely possibility of moving to a new country and teaching at a new school, getting to meet interesting new people and gain an even deeper understanding of the world and myself. But Door #3 holds quite a surprise!

I have a daughter who is now a grown woman. Last weekend, a man who loves her deeply asked her a simple question, “Will you marry me?” When she responded, “Yes,” I unexpectedly got homesick to be with my girl. Door #3 holds the prize of moving home, to help plan a wedding.

As I told a friend today, my problem is that I have too many options, and what a gift this is. There are so many who don’t have any options.

What are your prizes? What are you willing to trade this Thanksgiving week?

*NOTE: The ad below is placed on my blog by WordPress. I do not have any opinion or association with the ad. Please do not “click” it. Thank you.

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The Road To Nowhere – or Somewhere?

RoadToNowhereRecruitment fairs.

One of the very best things about beginning this blog ten months ago are the friends I’ve made. I have become friends with one woman in particular who is from Texas, like me, and is completing her second year teaching overseas in Taiwan. She found me through this blog and we’ve become confidants and encouragers to one another. She was in my shoes two years ago when she travelled to her first international recruitment fair to simply “check it out”. She was considering the possibility of teaching overseas “someday”. Before the weekend was over, however, she’d been offered a position – and she took it! She remembers what it’s like to be timid and unsure when comparing yourself to others with more international experience, more degrees and certifications and more bells and whistles. Because of her, I have signed up to attend not one, but two international recruitment fairs. In my blog articles titled Should I Stay Or Should I Go, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and Same As It Ever Was, I explained the three most well known and respected fairs: UNI, ISS and SA. With much advise and prayer, I decided to attend UNI, which is being held at the end of this week and Search Associate’s Cambridge Fair, which is being held the following week. I’m excited and scared. Here’s why:

It’s a gamble.

To be realistic, employment-seeking teachers dish out money to buy airline tickets, stay at the large, conference, upscale hotel and rent a car, for an average for 4 days, and sometimes they end up walking away with nothing. Or, they get an offer and have a couple of hours to decide if they want it. It’s tricky because there may be another school that they are hoping invites them to interview, but what if they don’t? Or, they get several offers, but hey, like me, they are planning on attending another recruitment fair the following week that’s already been paid for. Who might extend an invitation to be interviewed there? And then there’s also the possibility that if you can wait it out and be patient, a school often has late spring openings that are not announced until after ALL the fairs have concluded by end of February. Last year I tracked Art positions from March 12 – October 19 and there were an additional 52 jobs posted! Really? And the icing on the cake is that two of those 52 positions were from what I’d consider to be my “dream schools”.

From what I’ve read on International Schools Forum, it is not unusual, at the end of the day, to be at the hotel bar drinking a beer to calm your nerves, with school administrators and employment-seeking teachers and be offered a job there! I’ve read a story about how an offer was made in the elevator! I’ve been keeping up with a few people on twitter who have been at the SA London Fair for the last few days and it’s a well known fact that major networking is done on the “lifts.” And it is not unusual, in fact it is common practice, to be invited up to the hotel rooms of administrators and be interviewed in their room! Doesn’t this sound crazy? But it is common practice. For any of you readers who will be attending one of the upcoming recruitment fairs, here is a super-informative list of the “Top 9 Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs”.

So, my dear readers, wish me luck and send positive vibes my way. People of faith, please include me in your prayers. As Dr. Seuss says, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” I will do my very best to write a re-cap next week of the UNI fair. I may write it from the plane and, therefore, it may be posted late. Good luck to me and good luck to you too!

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The Known Universe

JunkYardOff and away.

Although I’ve targeted SE and central Asia as the areas I’m most interested in, I’m really open to just about anywhere. There are a few places on planet earth that I’m not drawn to, either because of safety concerns or because, for whatever reason, at this time, I’m not particularly drawn to that culture, but for the most part, I’m considering any and all offers. And hopefully there’ll be that – offers, i.e. contracts ready to be signed. As eager as I am, I don’t want to take just ANY offer. I want it to be the right one.  For instance, it was last summer, way after the frenzied, around-the-world recruitment fairs, that I saw two of my “dream jobs” online. I couldn’t apply for them because I still had to stay in the states for one more year to fulfill my current teaching assignment and to ensure my daughter’s safe and sure graduation from college in May 2013.

I’m about to walk into unknown territory. It’s scary and exciting. In a nervous moment this week, I remembered Dr. Seuss’  book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” and began reading some of his memorable poems. These examples will boost anybody’s spirit. He knows all about being brave.

“Out there things can happen, and frequently do,

To people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew.

Just go right along, you’ll start happening too!”

― Dr. SeussOh, the Places You’ll Go!

“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.

Some windows are lighted, but mostly they’re darked.

A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!

Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?

How much can you lose? How much can you win?”

― Dr. SeussOh, the Places You’ll Go!

“And when you’re alone there’s a very good chance

you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,

that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.”

― Dr. SeussOh, the Places You’ll Go!


Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!”

Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Sometimes I feel like India, China and SE Asia are far, far away. But when I watch the video below, it not only makes me tear up, but also inspires me to believe that a bigger-than-me God has my best interest in mind. He will let me know where I should go. This recruiting season I’ve already been reminded that a “no” is actually a “yes”. The “no’s” help guide us to our path. It is a really humbling feeling to be at the point that I’m ready to slip my moorings and give up my job, home and friends for completely unknown waters ahead, but deep within me, I know it’s the right thing to do. If you are in London this week at the SA Fair, “Good Luck!”

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Dominoes Falling in Bangkok

dominoesYellow slips.

One of the reasons I started this blog ten months ago was to chronicle the preparations and steps involved to move overseas and begin an international teaching career. Although I’ve read much about this for several years, it’s only been in the past ten months that I’ve seriously planned to enter this arena next year. This past week marked the first domino to fall, so to speak, with the kickoff of the widely recognized and respected Search Associates’ (SA) Bangkok International Recruiting Fair. This fair is thought of, by many, to lead the pack of fairs that will happen almost every weekend from now until mid-February. Starting in Bangkok, the fair tornado will spin north and westward traveling to Hong Kong, London, Toronto and Cambridge (USA), clearing everything in its path, before dying down in San Francisco in mid-February. There are clean up crews that follow the storm, including fairs in Dubai, London and Bethesda (US), but for many, the rush of the hiring season will be over. And this list only accounts for the Search Associates’ fairs. Not included in this list are the ISS fairs and the UNI fair, which are also tucked into this 5-week equation. The race is on!

I am going to paraphrase a unique report given on the ISR Forum, this week, by a writer who calls himself Shadowjack. He and his wife were teacher candidates in Bangkok this week and he gave a page turning, daily account of what it was like riding the recruiting wave these past few days. His reporting was transparent and seemingly accurate. I applaud his tireless efforts and celebrate his victory. If any of my readers are planning to attend an educational recruiting fair this spring, I hope this will be helpful to you. For those not attending a fair this year, this post may not be anything you are remotely interested in. Feel free to exit now.

The Scene: (quoted from the SA website)

Held at the Royal Orchid Sheraton on the Chao Phraya River, this fair is designed for experienced, top administrators and teachers from around the world (with or without IB experience) who are looking for positions in highly regarded international schools.

Paraphrased through the eyes of Shadowjack and others:


Arrive prepared: laptop, CV and related materials, quick fact sheets on schools, Thank You notes. Make a table in Microsoft Word that lists: School, Country, and Position/s and have these printed out, ready to fill in. Have three or four professional clothing ensembles ready for interviewing; casual clothes for evening wear.

Know where you want to be and pursue it. Hopefully you’ve already learned about the schools and the countries. Imagine how it would fit YOU. Bangkok is an early fair. Recruiters are willing to walk away from you and take a gamble that they will find a better candidate in an upcoming fair. Know this.

Register. Grab your package and start comparing school openings to the list you brought. Some school openings will be posted that aren’t even on SA’s daily list yet! Yellow slips =“I want to request an interview”. Fill in the yellow slips for schools that you are interested in. Paperclip CV and yellow slip together and put your “package” into schools’ folders. This takes time as there is a queue.

If schools want to interview you, they will also put a note in your box (each candidate has a box or folder of some kind). If you’ve had contact with a school before the fair, you may have notes already in your box or notes can show up at any time. Keep checking back.

After this is done, sort out which school presentations you want to go to. Go to many, as it allows you to network with school heads and principals. Start conversations.

Allow some time for schools to sort through their yellow slips, but go back and check your box for notes from schools from time to time, which, by the way, can also include rejection notes. You may/may not want to scratch off going to presentations of schools that have nixed you this time round.

QUOTE from Shadowjack:

“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 position 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.”

Go to school presentations. Presentations are spread over 3-4 conference rooms. More than one happen at the same time. Know that the schools will (naturally) present themselves in the best light. Most of the presented information you can glean from their websites, but you will get to observe the administrator and you can get insight into how they act and behave. Notice if they appreciate questions. Do they have stories or just show slides? Based on their presentation, how well versed are they with technology? Do they talk about staff and students (people and relationships) or do they talk about facilities and infrastructure (money)?

Introduce yourself to recruiters at the presentations, at sign-up, in passing and at the social. Make a pitch for yourself and possibly get an interview. You have 30 seconds – 1 minute to tell them your strengths and why you would be a great fit. Have about 25 CV’s on hand for this purpose. After meeting a recruiter at a presentation, they can change their mind about you and drop an interview request note in your box, when originally, they hadn’t done so.

Regarding CVs: Highlight your skills, experience and training. No fluff. Seriously, don’t go back to what you did in high school. No one cares about this!

After a day of this, you will be tired. Exhausted.

Go to bar/restaurant.

Go find your rejection letters (or not…) and plan the next day.

Swing by the candidates’ lounge where schools post their openings to see if there are any changes. Decide which schools you will approach during interview sign-ups first thing in the morning. Which presentations will you attend? Sweet dreams.


Go have breakfast. Try to remember recruiters’ names (from meeting any the day before!) You will run into them, here and there. You want them to remember you! Swing by candidates’ lounge to see if there’s any new listings. Go check your box to check for interview requests or rejection notes.

Sell yourself. This is the day that you will try to sell yourself (in 30 seconds – 1 minute) to recruiters who have either already contacted you for an interview, or who you talked to during presentation times who might be interested in you, or who you meet in the interview sign up time, or even those who have no idea who your are, but you like their school and you put a CV package in their file. Go meet these recruiters of schools where you’d like to be, even if there aren’t any current openings in your subject. If you don’t have an opportunity to interview with them, meeting them at their presentation is the next best thing to have them remember you for the future.

Interview sign up.  Located in ballroom and ballroom foyer. Admin candidates (about 100) went in at 12:30 pm; teaching candidates (about 450) started entering at 1:00 pm. GET IN LINE EARLY (maybe 45 minutes early). Smaller schools were set up in foyer so you can check out where they are located early. Inside the ballroom, schools were in alphabetical order by country, then school name. SA’s organization was excellent!

Approach recruiters confidently.  Know your skills. Know your strengths. Know your weaknesses. Go to your top schools first. “I want to be your next _______ teacher!” They will be bluntly honest with you. Don’t take offense. They have many people to see and jobs to be filled. If they are not interested in you, they will say so. It’s exhausting, selling yourself over and over. Don’t give up, just keep going. However, schools can smell desperation. Don’t be desperate. It will all work out. Be patient.

Go to presentations. Or – go to interviews if you have any scheduled! Interviews may be scheduled during presentation times. Interviews are held in recruiter’s rooms. Wait outside the room door. About three minutes before interview time, gently, but firmly, knock. Previous candidate will exit and they will take a minute or two to prepare for you and invite you in.

Do your homework on the school, the city and the country! Do not lie about your ability to teach the curriculum. Be honest in the interview. If they say they will get back to you, good! It is not a brush off. If they don’t want you they will tell you that. They will be very honest with you.

Check back for newly posted openings.

Check your box.

Do not panic. Do not self-doubt. Just keep to the business at hand. Check out SA website for updates in positions. All kinds of things can happen. A hired candidate can change their mind. A school may not extend a contract because of an upcoming fair in a different city, only to call you in two weeks and extend a contract. Don’t freak if you have not yet got a contract.

Go to the social, whenever they are scheduled. Excellent opportunity to network again.

Dinner. Bed. Night-night.


To quote Shadowjack:

“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 worth while.”

Early rise. Breakfast.

Early interview appointments (hopefully). Do not panic if no contracts are offered. Be strong! Don’t doubt. Contracts may not be offered but the experience and networking is valuable. You will be tested at this point. You should understand that your attendance at a fair is NOT a guarantee of a job.

Check your box. Check mail. Go to candidate lounge. You will see a variety of scenarios to include happy people that have been offered a contract, candidates filling out interview requests, candidates Skyping and chatting.

Attend candidates/recruiters reception. You have paid for this. Keep the drink ticket from your fair package, wear your name tag and talk with everyone. Learn about offers that were made. Keep your chin up.

Check file folder again. Stay positive.

Prepare your suitcase to leave tomorrow. Go to bed. Sleep tight.


Leave luggage with concierge.

Early to breakfast. Arrive early (before 8:00 am) because everyone is eating breakfast this last day before they make their way through a couple of last interviews and then to airport.

Go to scheduled interviews. Recruiters want you to want their job as much as they want to offer it to you. If they sense any kind of reservation, they hate making you an offer. Also keep in mind that some candidates never get a single interview. If you’ve had any, thank your lucky stars. If you feel it is needed, go back to schools and tell them you are genuinely interested.

And if a contract is offered, and if you sign it, arrangements are briefly covered. More details are forthcoming in a month or so. Celebrate! The search is over for you!

If recruiters are waiting to hear from you, let them know if you accept an offer from another school.

If no contract is offered, chin up. There are more fairs and there are more jobs. Be thankful of this experience. Think about how much more you know now than when you arrived.

Last March, when I started this blog, I started tracking the art teacher jobs, going forward, from March 12 through September 4. There were 33 additional art teacher jobs posted in the SA daily post. Keep in mind this was after all the international fairs had happened. All kinds of things can happen to cause this. Maybe a candidate at Bangkok, who accepted an offer, had a change of heart and decided to abandon his post. Maybe an employed teacher had anticipated returning to her post, but a change in life caused her to have to leave her assignment. Life is like water, it’s fluid and ever changing. Remember: Your oath is your bond.

Think about a Plan B. I have a Plan B figured out although I don’t know all the details. Basically my Plan B is to leave my current position, as planned, spend some of the money I’ve been saving and travel during the summer, then probably move to California to be close to my daughter. Plan A would be awesome and Plan B would be awesome. I’m not going to take any ‘ol job. It has to be “right”. I’ll know it if it is offered. I’ve got two weeks until I will have personal experience at this. Breathe. . . and good luck everyone!

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Same as it ever was (Part 3 of 3)

Once in a lifetime.

Reminiscing about David Byrne and the Talking Heads brings back a torrential downpour of pleasant memories. These musical-memories connect significantly to a transition time in my life: graduating from college, getting married and moving out of state. In the mid-1980’s, my then-husband and I moved from Missouri to Texas to begin a new life. Recently graduated from college, we were psyched to land our first jobs and start down our career path, which for me meant beginning the climb up the corporate ladder. My imaginative dreams were centered on my new marriage, my new job, buying our first new car, buying our first home and eventually becoming parents. My mind couldn’t fully wrap around all these new, upcoming changes, but I was excited and hopeful about my future.

None of these dreams turned out exactly the way I thought they would. I could have never predicted the end results of my hopes and expectations. More than once I awoke, seemingly from a deep sleep, and thought, as Bryne’s lyrics read, “My God! What have I done?” There’s no way that we can fully predict what our lives will be, even with all the research we do and all the well wishes and prayers from friends and family. But life is wonderfully mysterious and I wouldn’t trade in any of my experiences, both the good ones and the bad ones, for they’ve brought me to where I am today. Life is full of transitions and I find that I am still excited and hopeful about my future as I seriously consider moving overseas.

And You May Find Yourself Living In A Shotgun Shack

And You May Find Yourself In Another Part Of The World

And You May Find Yourself Behind The Wheel Of A Large Automobile

And You May Find Yourself In A Beautiful House, With A Beautiful Wife

And You May Ask Yourself-Well…How Did I Get Here?

This rendition of The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime”, is recorded by Robert Luis:

When I went to Europe for the first time in 2006 I remember thinking, “I belong here. This feels like home. Surely I was born here and my parents adopted me into the USA and just have never told me!” How did I get here (USA)? “This is not my beautiful house,” as the song goes. But my mother assures me that I wasn’t adopted and that I am truly American! I often feel like a foreigner in my own country. I long to live a slower, more observant, less cluttered lifestyle. Every minute of every day is a “once in a lifetime” possibility. The next time I ask myself, “My God! What have I done?” I want to honestly and peacefully answer the question in a way that shows love, bravery, courage and trust.

Part 3 of 3: SA (Search Associates)

This article concludes with my research about the international educational recruitment company, Search Associates (SA). In my previous two posts I explained what I have found out about UNI (University of Northern Iowa) and ISS (International Schools Services).  SA has been in existence for more than 21 years. Not only have they helped teachers find positions in international schools around the world, they also place administrators and interns. Their current website boasts that in 2011 they set a record by helping 2,198 candidates secure positions abroad.

SA works with more than 600 schools, compared to ISS who works with about 150 schools. SA feels confident they are the best educational recruitment company because of the personal attention they give to both candidates and schools. For instance, once I completed my online application and SA had received recommendations from my administrators, my file was considered “active” and I was assigned a Senior Associate who will personally assist me throughout the entire search process. I was given her email and phone number so that I can reach her at all times. Additionally, because my file is active, I receive a daily log of SA represented schools that are currently seeking teachers and administrators. Since my file became active in March 2012, I’ve been tracking how many art positions have been posted. I’m delighted to report that there have been 23 art teaching positions listed to date, and this is really late in the hiring season! Keep in mind that most positions for the 2012-13 school year have already been placed.

Although my file is considered active, my online profile will not be made known to seeking schools until I pay my membership dues. Once I pay $200, I will have access to SA for three years and interested schools can review my credentials. I will have access to job openings, salaries and benefits and I will be able to contact schools directly through the database upon notification of an opening in one of my listed preferences. Interested schools will be able to email me directly, set up interviews or ask for additional information. The first SA educational recruitment fair is free and each additional fair is $50, although all job fairs are by invitation only. Both candidates and schools that are fully registered may request invitations. In comparison, ISS charges $290 for all fairs in a season. Search Associates offers 13 annual job fairs worldwide between November and June. These fairs allow candidates and schools to have face-to-face interviews to determine if there is a mutual interest and a good “fit” between the school and candidate. In addition, Search Associates keeps their fairs small in order to provide maximum support for candidates and schools.

There are many more educational recruitment companies, but I’ve limited my search to these three: UNI, ISS and SA. In my last post I described the wonderful resource, International Schools Review (ISR) which allows open dialogue, through a forum, on a host of subjects centered around teaching internationally. On this website you will find many opinions about the differences of these companies. Some people prefer one company over another for a host of reasons. Many international educators never attend a fair at all. After paying their application fee, they contact the seeking schools directly and are accustomed to interviewing over Skype.

In the ISR article called, “How Do International Educators See Their Careers?” Bill says, “I left as soon as I got my BEd and never looked back. Best decision I could have ever made. I was looking to explore the world, learn about new cultures and languages, work in schools that value teachers and provide a stimulating work environment. Next year, will be my 4th international school and my 12th year overseas. Sometimes I think about going back for a couple of years but I really do enjoy this life too much to do so.”

Is teaching internationally a once in a lifetime opportunity? I think it may be. I’d be interested in what once in a lifetime opportunities you’ve been given.

Thanks for reading!

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