Sorry I haven’t written in awhile. Been super busy transitioning to a new amazing team of educators in a very special country.
No matter how much I write about the unique experience of seeking a job in international schools, I always learn something new that has helped me and hopefully will help you as you venture into this perilous (and exciting) phase of your learning journey.
So, here’s my job seeking primer for 2018. Good luck. And remember, you WILL get a job.
1) The fairs are done before they start. I think you know this by now, but most jobs are filled by January and the top schools are done by Oct./Nov. You should have built a relationship with a school prior to the fair. By the time the fair rolls around, meeting people is usually a formality.
2) Design a clean, clutter free CV that tells a story, not just a list of mundane tasks like everyone else. More text with 10 font is not a better story. There’s no reason you can’t organize your experience by headings such as “Innovation,” “Experiential ed,” or “Personalized Learning,” that matches the mission of the school instead of something that looks like a common app. It takes more work, but if you really want to work at a certain school, they will be impressed to see the alignment of your experiences with what the school values.
3) Check the school web sites that you’re interested in, not just the search agencies. Desirable places like the UWC network and some of the other top schools don’t bother to advertise.
4) Non profit vs. For profit: There’s an expression that the difference between profit and non is that one is resource rich and community poor and the other is the opposite. That’s a pretty good analogy as for profits can be ruthless when it comes to the bottom line, but that doesn’t mean that non-profits are perfect. Make sure you understand the culture of the organization you are joining before you jump in. Speaking to current employees (not just managers) usually is a good indicator.
5) Job jumping=low rating. Yes, there are a lot of teachers that are in it for the travel. From a recruiters’ perspective, a string of 2 and 3 year gigs (or less) is not a good sign no matter your excuse. You should build up a solid foundation of several 4-5 year gigs or longer to establish yourself as a desirable candidate.
6) Social media matters: We all know this by now, but keep an eye on your digital footprint and make sure that it’s compatible for working in schools. Child safeguarding is job #1 of professional school environments and they check.
7) Always give your direct supervisors as references, even if it’s hard. Good schools are going to call the Director or Head even if you didn’t list them as a reference. It’s a red flag when your only references are colleagues, past directors, or department heads. Have the hard conversations if you have to, but list the direct managers.
8) No surprises: Be up front with anything that might be an issue. If you have a child with disabilities, a partner to whom you’re not married, or anything that could be an obstacle for securing a work permit or a job, be up front even if it may cost you the offer. There’s nothing worse for an employer than finding out deal breaker issues after you’re at the contract stage.
9) Visit schools during your holidays just to say “hello” and introduce yourself, even if there’s not a job. As a Principal, I love it when traveling teachers want to visit and see what we’re all about and have a chat over coffee about their experience. Some of my best ‘interviews’ have been with folks on their holiday. They’re real.
10) Be willing to take a pass. Don’t be desperate. Watch for the signs of a bad deal. If a manager gives you five hours to think about an offer or if they don’t let you speak to current employees or are vague about the health insurance, etc. then wait. If you’re good, you WILL get a job. Trust me, it somehow works out, especially if you love what you do and want to make the world a better place. God only knows we need you.
Good luck. I’ve been on both sides of the table and it’s humbling. Keep your friends close, be yourself, don’t be afraid to turn down something if it doesn’t feel right, and don’t ever, ever give up.