Going Recruiting – Qs and As

Educators new to international teaching are actively looking for answers to a myriad of questions about recruiting fairs, teaching abroad and the international lifestyle. Meanwhile, experienced international educators have a history overseas, know the answers, and can be very helpful by “filling in the blanks” for newcomers to the International Schools recruiting scene.

If YOU have a recruiting question, or want to know more about teaching and living abroad, we encourage you to post your questions to our new Going Recruiting Blog. Or, if YOU are an experienced international teacher willing to offer up your advice to a newbie seeking to teach in international schools, here’s the place to share your knowledge.

Recently received questions to cross our ISR desks include:

  • My husband is not a teacher and our daughter will be in third grade next academic year. What are my chances of finding a position?
  • Do you normally e-mail schools copies of your references or simply provide their names and contact information?
  • Do schools prefer reviewing applications and hiring through a recruiting agency? Or, is it just as effective to go it alone these days?

Do you have questions you’d like answered? Post Them Here.

46 Responses to Going Recruiting – Qs and As

  1. wondering says:

    I am certified in a US state where it is basically impossible to renew certification if teaching outside of that state. How do international school teachers deal with renewing teaching credentials? Are there states that are more accommodating to the international teacher?

    Like

    • Jessica says:

      I didn’t have trouble when renewing in Ohio when I was living in England. All I had to show was my 3 hours of continuing education (I did a correspondence course in classroom management). I couldn’t transfer to a professional license and had to stay on a provisional though because of the requirement for an induction year and mentor, though if I had tried they might have let my UK school sign off on it. Some states will let you put your license on hold I’ve heard so you may want to look into that.

      Like

  2. Ms. Hodson says:

    If one were to secure a job – when (July? August? September?) would you be expected to move abroad?

    Also, thanks for the earlier advice!

    Like

    • Pak Mojo says:

      Most schools start their school year sometime in August. New hires are expected to be there by late July or the first weeks of August to get settled in to their homes and take care of things like resident permits, bank accounts etc.

      Like

  3. David Stevenson says:

    As to the question of having a Masters Degree in a field “other” than Education. I would say that as long as you have completed your initial teacher training program, then having a Masters degree in Engineering, Science etc would be looked upon in positive terms.

    Keep in mind that some schools now want to see that you are a registered certified teacher in your home country. I was in a school where the headmaster “let go” of a group of teachers as they were not certified teachers, they were ESL instructors with undergraduate degrees. Its a crazy world when dealing with credentials but one of the norms seems to be that a teacher shoud at least be certified in the jusrisdiction they come from.

    Like

  4. Chris says:

    How important is a Master degree when applying at the best schools? And does the Master degree need to be in education, or could it be in business or a social science?

    Like

    • David Stevenson says:

      It really depends on the country you got your initial degree from. For example:

      Just say you have completed your undergraduate degree in “International Relations” and then took a professional teacher prep program then:

      Australia calls it a Diploma of Education
      Canada calls it a Bachelor of Education
      UK calls it a Postgraduate Certificate in Education
      but the USA calls it a Master of Education

      As you can see, it is not so simple. If your are Australian, Canadian or British then a Masters of Education is a degree you do after you have completed your initial teacher training (DipEd, PGCE, B.Ed). So if your “Commonwealth” trained, not having a Masters Degree is the norm.

      If your US trained – having a Masters Degree can be your initial teacher prep program. Does that make sense? US teachers often get a Masters Degree in teaching but are in actuality – beginning teachers (not Master Teachers).

      This difference often leads to arguments in schools where they pay extra for Masters degrees on the pay scale. However, I have seen international schools pay according to the number of university credits beyond the undergraduate degree (ex: 30 credits, 60 credits). This acknowledges the different “terms” used by international teachers worldwide.

      So – in a nutshell, an American School would have far more “master” degree teachers than say an Australian / Canadian / British International school. Problems in evaluating equal pay occurs when teachers cross the divide and not take the time to understand the cultural differences in the terminology used.

      Like

      • Dr Doctor, PhD says:

        I don’t think you’re quite 100% correct on that one. I did a regular BA plus earned my teaching credential all at the same time at a uni in USA. When I graduated, I had just that: a BA plus a teaching license. Later in my career, I entered an MA program in education in order to earn a masters. I think most graduate schools in the US require some sort of research proposal and comprehensive examination at program’s end to earn a MA–I did neither in my undergrad BA/licensure programs.

        Like

        • David says:

          Yes, I stand corrected. There is a stream of education whereby you graduate with a B.A. in Education. This is called a “concurrent” program and can be found in the USA, Australia and Canada. However, many US education programs at the Master’s level is by course work only. This is considered a “terminal degree” because it does not involve a thesis and thereby cannot be used for entry into a Doctoral programme.

          But what you have highlighted is the incredible differences of degrees and letters between countries and even within the USA. Hence the practice of some international schools to use the “credit” method when evaluating placement on a salary grid.

          Like

  5. Ms. Hodson says:

    What about the likelihood of securing a social studies position in a high school? This will be my first time applying to teach internationally, but I do have 7 years NYC teaching experience and a Masters degree. I know it is not a high-needs subject, but I guess I am just trying to weigh the financial risk of heading to a fair.

    Like

    • Fran says:

      I believe it would be rare to secure a position merely teaching Soc. St.
      However, if you have other experience/skills, such as coaching or yearbook or student government or MUN or even drama/literature/history/IB/MYP/etc you could be very desirable, especially to a new and/or smallish school.
      In my years of teaching abroad I’ve taught quite a few subjects other than my credential, and sometimes NOthing to do with what I’m licensed to teach. But those hobbies and skills and experience in my background played a huge part in selling myself. And, once you get YOUR foot in the door teaching swimming or art and still have that Soc. Studies background and credential secure, you’ll be quite desirable a commodity for an international school.
      And, besides, you can teach history, social studies, current events, student government, sociology, and probably even some other social studies-related subjects. Good Luck!!

      Like

  6. Moe says:

    Is it a detriment to have a PhD degree? detriment in the sense that schools will find you overqualified or more expensive to hire. Will it be a good idea to leave that detail out?

    Like

    • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

      Moe……Not revealing information to schools is always a serious mistake, whether it is positive or negative for the following reasons:

      1)Unwillingness to be transparent is viewed very unfavourably but recruiting schools.
      2)The more degree you hold the better your compensation package will be, in most cases.
      3)A PHD makes you eligible and more attractive for possible Head of Department or directors positions,provided it isn’t in some esoteric area like the sex life of a caterpillar!!!
      4)You are either worth the extra money or not, but don’t decide that yourself, you can always argue that being better trained and educated guarantees a far more resilient and skillful learner and educator which is often true.
      5) Don’t insist on being called Dr. Moe. Stay in the trenches with the rest of the boys & girls, ask them to use your first name instead of your title…puts people at ease.

      Hope this helps…….

      Like

      • Dr Doctor, PhD says:

        And DO NOT pass up PD opportunities at your school. I work with a couple PhD types at my current school. Meaning to or not, they have a bit of a condescending air about them, and NEVER engage in school sponsored professional development, their underlying belief being “Hey, I’ve got a doctoral degree, why bother?” This is, of course, a self-defeating mentality. I think they both also feel a bit stagnate (again, of their own doing) because they have PhD but are teaching in the classroom like the rest of us. And it seems kind of dumb having middle school kids refer to their teachers as “Dr. Smith.” Just seems too formal and alienating to me…

        But definitely don’t hide your credentials!

        Like

    • David Stevenson says:

      I have personal experience in this and I can tell you that it depends on the position you are applying for.

      If you are applying for a teaching position, then having a PhD will make you over qualified and you will probably not get the interview. I applied for many positions with all my degrees and it was only after I dumbed down my resume that I was able to secure teaching contracts. I did not consider this as being fraudulent but rather as matching my skillset to the position applied for. They want a teacher, not an academic.

      Headmasters want to hire a teacher, not another administrator or “know it all”. The headmaster has a picture in his/her mind of what they are looking for and a classroom teacher with a PhD is usually not in their mind at all unless you are well published in the educational field and world renowned! Thats another scenario altogether.

      Like

  7. Norbie says:

    Does DODDS attend recruitment fairs or does one apply to them directly?

    Like

    • Fran says:

      Sorry Norbie, but DoDD schools have their whole other ball game going…
      You can look on government sites to apply, but truthfully, most positions are filled by spouses of active duty. But, if you happen to be living in a country where there is a US base nearby, there are lots of positions of all types, including teaching, for you to consider. It’s just that you’ll be in competition, again, with all the children and spouses, plus the local English-speaking people.

      Like

  8. Michael says:

    Can anyone with experience share the names of schools that would pay enough to support a non-teaching spouse and one child?

    Like

    • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

      I have worked in the Middle East, Germany and Mexico. the schools pay poorly in Mexico but the cost of living is low as well so it is possible to live there on one salary provided the school pays a housing allowance or a rent. If you are a foreign hire, most schools will.
      The Middle East and Asia have fairly generous salaries and packages including a housing allowance.
      the school i worked in in Germany,like most European schools, didn’t pay a housing allowance but the salary was high enough to easily cover the rental costs. You won’t save much money in europe but the quality of living is very high.

      Like

  9. Reinette says:

    Hi. If you have a non teaching partner, it is important to look carefully at the package you are offered. How much is your salary? Can you afford to live? Is the air fare paid for spouses and dependants or do you pay? Are non working partners included in the health insurance? If not, how much is it? What are the employment laws in the country if your partner decides to work? What facilities are there for someone at home all day?
    Some schools offer a package that makes life good, others make it difficult. Good luck.

    Like

  10. Pak Mojo says:

    Has CIS recently changed their criteria for accepting teaching candidates? My partner was registered with them 4 years ago with a BA in education, US certification and virtually no international experience. She landed a job. Four years later she has a Master’s in Int’l Education, 4 years PYP experience, certification and they sent her a letter saying her ‘candidacy was not sufficiently strong for re- registration’. We are shocked. What could be the problem? Even after talking to the folks at CIS at first glance they told me she was more than qualified. So could a disgruntled referee torpedo her candidacy? Any insights would be most appreciated.

    Like

    • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

      Pak Mojo….this is not my experience with CIS and as far as I know they haven’t changed their policies or criteria so it is strange that they’d refuse reregistration. It does sound like blackballing though so recontact CIS, ask to speak to the Director and find out what is really going on. You might also want to check with the previous school(s) and ask a friend who is still there to check out what might have been said about your partner or is currently being said.

      Like

  11. Tom says:

    1. The “non-teaching partner” situation is not common but it does happen. It is possible at schools which pay well and provide above-average housing in low-cost countries. Be upfront and ask the school; many will tell you straight out such a family can’t make it on one salary and they won’t hire one. Even if they say yes, be aware they will probably put you in a single person’s housing, which could be cramped. Each teacher usually is allowed one child’s tuition free; two children in such a family would require one be paid tuition, usually not affordable.

    2. Don’t email reference copies initially. It’s usually OK to email reference contact info. However, if your reference has referred you to the contact, by all mean mention that referral and make the most of it.

    3. If you are experienced with an in-demand specialty, marketing yourself can pay off with an early job offer if you get to it well before the fairs start. But you should always market yourself with email contact before the fairs no matter what. You may be able to arrange some fair appointments in advance, which is always an advantage over those on the treadmill.

    Note: When making contact with administrators before the fairs, also copy the school’s HR or personnel head. Some schools do take the input of their HR people in finding prospects.

    Like

    • Giproc says:

      I agree entirely with Tom’s #1 as it is our current situation. Most will make it clear from the beginning whether a place is affordable or not on 1 teaching salary. From our experience, most aren’t. If the spouse can generate income without having a local visa (ie: internet work, pre-existing tele-communication contract, cash-based private tutoring for example) they may accept you but you may need to defend your spouse as well as yourself in interviews.

      We’ve found that many schools will bend a little on the housing to make you comfortable, but the salary is the salary. In some places where electricity is high for AC or heat, having a spouse at home all day is a notable extra expense that rises significantly above what you’ve been quoted for utilities by the school. 100-300 extra dollars a month in bills is not uncommon.

      Like

  12. O says:

    Is it true that it is harder for Asians to secure a job through job fairs? no matter how qualified?

    Like

    • Mark says:

      I think this depends on the country you are going to and the position you are seeking.

      In many emerging countries there is a strong demand for the Native Speaker Appearance – no matter what your passport says. But in other countries it will have no effect.

      Like

    • Tom says:

      It is true that it is generally harder for all non-westerners to be hired at international schools by whatever means. But simple racism is seldom the reason, it is a more complex interplay of forces.

      Qualifications are pretty consistent across schools — western degree, western credential/license, a couple of years western experience. Asian teachers with these qualifications can actually have an advantage in Asian locations. Schools like to hire qualified local teachers — “local hire” is the term — because they cost the school less. But that’s a different story.

      But nationality (passport) does come into play. Virtually all international schools primarily are funneling non-westerner students into western universities, so they need to provide a western prep education, and there is a strong perception among parents that this requires western teachers.

      Parents shopping for schools are prone to superficial judgments of appearance before they look at qualifications (as many of us are). I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a parent going through teacher resumes, although they probably could if they asked.

      For these reasons, many schools play up summary statistics of their staff qualifications, including nationality, as a way of reassuring prospective and current parents that they are, indeed, a funnel school for western universities. It’s not that they don’t like teachers of ethnicity or they have a particular ratio in mind — they want to avoid a profile that makes parents nervous.

      Are there racist schools where ethnicity plays a part in hiring? Yes, a small number. Are there enlightened schools that take pains to hire the most qualified, regardless? Yes, a small number. Most are in the middle, balancing the forces at play and surviving.

      My thoughts on how to get hired at an international school if you are a Asian teacher? (1) Be qualified. (2) Target larger schools. (3) Teach an in-demand specialty, including languages. (4) Aim high.

      I once shared a room at a European job fair with a Philippine math teacher. He got hired way before I did.

      Like

    • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

      As far as I know, there is no actual racial or ethnic selectivity at Fairs but I’m not Asian so I can’t speak from direct experience. My Asian teacher friends have never complained about prejudicial treatment and they didn’t seem to have any more difficulty than the average teacher in finding jobs.

      Like

      • O says:

        thank you Domhuaille MacMathghamhna! I am anxious to go to my very first Search job fair and somehow, your response gave me an extra-boost of confidence.

        Like

    • tammy says:

      not at all. i’m asian american, and i’ve gotten hired at wonderful schools in asia.

      Like

      • xenophobia says:

        But there is an unfortunate reality that in some schools, in some countries, a blond-haired, blue-eyed teacher in front of the kids is a strong selling point.

        Like

    • Sangster2 says:

      Here in Vietnam I have been told that Vietnamese Americans find it hard to get teaching jobs even if they are qualified.

      I am black and work in an international school in Ho Chi Minh City. I know that some schools in Asia do not want to hire non-whites even if they are qualified but I think it is harder for Asians even if they are western.

      A couple we know applied for jobs, he is white, she is a dark skinned from South America. He was told that the school would like to only employ him as the parents wanted to see white teachers.

      Like

  13. David Stevenson says:

    It is safe to say that the tides are turning and many small schools now hire outside of job fairs as it saves them paying fees. The internet and web cam technology has drastically reduced the need for a 15 minute face to face. However this said, many administrators will still travel to the fairs as this is a great opportunity for them to mingle with other heads and exchange information. My personal experience has been that the fairs are a waste of my time and money. Some of the schools I have worked for even docked my pay for attending a job fair in order to secure my next contract. Most attendees walk away without a position offered. That is hard to take if you just invested thousands of dollars in airfares, accomodation and lost wages. If a fair is close by, sure – attend – nothing to lose then.

    As far as references go, I usually try to start a dialogue with the Principal regarding the position available. Starting with the position description and then if it looks like it could be a fit, then I would send an email application with copies of my references.

    To the poster regarding the non-teaching spouse. The answer is largely based on the country you are applying for work in and his profession. Most countries do not issue a work visa to the spouse. Good luck.

    Like

    • Mark says:

      Personally I find the fairs a good way for me to meet with a number of administrators in one place and way up some options.

      I do remember how disappointing they were when I first started teaching and had only a few interviews and no offers until a month or more after the fair.

      I think the administrators want to keep it going as it is a bit of a gravy train for those at the bigger schools. With everything paid for where is the incentive for them to give it up.

      Certainly smaller schools on a budget will be hiring using alternatives.

      I have used the fairs consistently different fairs ISS, COIS Queens and Search, I have never found a job through Search but that is not to say I did not learn a lot at the fair and made some interesting contacts.

      I have a non teaching spouse and two children. The fairs give an opportunity to “sell” myself that I do not get through any other medium. As a teacher we all do presentations and so presenting ourselves is an opportunity to show an administrator what you can do. I have always been able to find a position the key is an openness to go where the openings are rather than picking a country and then finding a school in that country.

      Like

  14. C says:

    Is there a shortage of IB Visual Arts teachers in the International School circuit now?
    I am an art teacher and am finding it difficult to find MS/HS positions.

    Like

    • Giproc says:

      We’re finding more and more schools hiring “Specials” teachers locally (Arts, Music, PE, ICT, 2nd Languages, to name some.) The exception sometimes is a working couple where the spouse teaches an in-demand core subject like Math or Science.

      Like

  15. beverly says:

    Why are there job fairs when there are no guarantees; who is really benefiting besides the hotels and airlines?

    Like

    • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

      There are no guarantees in any job search process and those who benefit the most from these Fairs are the recruiting agencies, the schools and hotels/airlines/restaurants but rarely the teachers. The Fairs are setup with the recruiters’ clients in mind (the schools) in order to offer them a place to meet and share ideas,critiques and cheap alcohol.

      Like

      • well.... says:

        I’d recon that the hundreds (thousands?) of teachers hired every year at the job fairs might feel as if they’ve benefitted.

        Like

        • Wilbert says:

          So, if you paid twice as much for some product at a store down the street from another store with a better value, would you still feel that you benefited even if you did get the product? Just because they got jobs at a fair doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have done it without all the hoopla that went along with it. That’s what i’d recon.

          Like

        • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

          Well you have to define benefited. Yes they got a job but what quality of job and did their agent help them, did they get told the truth about the school or like so many hundred (thousands?) of friends and colleagues, get shafted by disreputable,blacklisting schools who care only about the square peg in a round hole. The recruiters don’t seem to care all that much either and love the cash these Fairs bring in. Not all Fairs are the same but the ones I have been to seem less than worthwhile and I’ve heard the same story from so many people I worked with…most don’t want to go to Fairs…so rekon again cowboy….

          Like

  16. Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

    I have been overseas for 11 years and have just retired after 43 years in education and business so here are my contributions:

    1)Schools usually prefer married teaching couples but usually a child isn’t a problem. Most schools offer lower or free tuition if one of the two teach at the school. The problem will be the cost of living versus salary, especially on one salary in Europe. the Middle East and Eurasia are no problem but Latin America can be.
    2)Schools don’t rely on copies of references, e-mailed or snail-mailed, but they will want your references contact numbers so they can verify your history themselves. Keep it simple and provide references when asked…don’t put them on your resume as you can’t control who they contact then.
    3)I used recruiting services (Search and Carney/Sandoe) but my experience at Fairs was less than positive. In my experience,schools prefer to be contacted directly since they save the recruitment fee and they get a better sense of your perseverance and character, organization and experience through a direct contact. I obtained ALL my assignments except the first one by direct contact using the internet and sites like TIE online, etc.

    If you have follow on questions, feel free to contact me at my e-mail address.

    Like

    • Bryant pheanious says:

      Hello, im thinking about using a service called search associates. How did you start the legwork to getting a teaching position? It seems like it an arduous task to sift through. I’d like to talk more about TIE. Thank you.

      Like

      • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

        Bryant,
        Before signing on to a service like Search or ISS, give the direct approach a try. I recommend TIEONLINE (tieonline.com) as it is inexpensive, offers all the contact info. you need and you don’t have to bother with Fairs or such. Before applying to a school DO YOUR RESEARCH in depth. I belong to International Schools Review (http://www.internationalschoolsreview.com/)and they do a very thorough if subjective job of providing both positive and negative critiques for most schools worldwide. Keep in mind that you have to take their reviews with a grain of salt as they are often written by disgruntled teachers with an ax to grind BUT you’ll find a great deal of gold among the dross.
        While arduous, it is FUNDAMENTAL to verify all the things the school says and promises, as well as the reviews and their website information. If you don’t do that you’ll regret it!!!!

        Like

        • Fay says:

          Use TES Jobs (go to the International Schools section) to find advertised posts in an International school.

          Its free – you can then sort through all the schools looking for teachers and apply for the ones that you feel you may like to apply for and submit your CV directly to the address given.

          Although this is a Brit site – there are opportunities all over the world using many different curricula.

          Take all Domhuaille MacMathghamhna’s advice about verifying schools very seriously.
          Good luck – getting a foothold in the International schools arena can be the best thing you ever do..

          Like

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