Tag Archives: how to find a job

Tis the Season, A 2019 Job Seeking Primer

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.

How to Find an International School Job

While much of the world is making its list and checking them twice, you’re making another list and checking it tenfold. The dreaded “where am I going to land next year?” list. It can really distract you from the joys of the holiday season. The fairs, the child care while you’re gone, the cover letters, the Skypes in your suit top and gym shorts (you thought you were the only one?) and the agony of the wait.

It’s not easy. Well, relax. You only go around this carousel once. Enjoy the ride and stay focused on your passion. So, here goes, my annual “how to land an international job” list with updated revisions for 2014.

1) Don’t wait for the fairs: Thanks to technology, the only thing fairs have become is where candidates who have already Skyped several times go to sign contracts and shake hands. If you wait for the fair to start talking to schools, you’ve missed the boat. Most experienced int’l educators know this. If you’re new to the game, start checking school employment websites now and don’t wait for the fair postings.

2) Apply to all jobs directly on school web sites. You can often “avoid the herd” if you find listings with the school’s “HR” email or other non-agency or intermediary address to apply to.

3) Show up in the off season: There’s a LOT to be said for heading to say, Berlin, and hitting the handful of int’l schools in the area just to say “Guten Tag” and introduce yourself to the department head or director of studies. They may have an opening, they may not. But having a bit of face time and showing a professional interest in the school will pay off when and if they have something. When a fellow showed up at my door in the Swiss Alps with his backpack and muddy Mammot boots saying he was hiking the “Haute Route” but wanted to say hello because he always wanted to teach at my school, I wanted to hire him on the spot (and trade places, to be honest).

4) Okay, #3 doesn’t help you now, but it’s a good one to keep in mind. Next, find out something the school needs or does that your unique talents can help. For example, if you find out they are starting a technology program or introducing the PYP, or a service program, or something in their profile that attracts your attention outside of the usual, then make that a part of your focus. Schools appreciate when you point out their unique strengths and want to be a part of it.

5) Change your CV to highlight SKILLS, not where you worked or went to school. Right at the top of the page: “Teacher Leader” (and then you list of bunch of really cool stuff you did). Then “Outdoor Leadership” (and then make that list). Where you worked and went to school should be a bunch of one liners on the second page. No one cares about that stuff anymore. It’s what you can you for us that counts.

6) CONSUME the website and find unique facts to use in your cover letter that other people miss. You’d be amazed at what you can find if you dig a little. I quoted a passage from an alumni that I found way back in the archives of a school’s magazine. I believe it helped me land an interview.

7) Clean up your digital footprint and make your own. Google yourself again and make sure you’re presented as the professional you are. You don’t have to have a Twitter account but more and more professionals have websites highlighting their work. This doesn’t hurt when schools research you online and you can use the link in the package you present.

And whatever you do, stay strong, stay connected with people who support you and meditate with an open mind and an open heart. I didn’t waste my blog on what I’ve been through this past year, but let’s just say it’s keeping me Cosmically Conscious

Enjoy and God Bless.