How Pertinent are Recruiting Fairs Today? / Survey

  In 2013 ISR conducted a survey that asked teachers — “Was attending a Recruiting Fair beneficial to your career?” Of the 289 educators who took our survey, 30% reported they did not attend a Recruiting Fair & went on to secure an overseas teaching position through other channels. (See original article & comments)

survey-2013  Reviewing the 2013 results, ISR concluded a move away from Recruiting Fairs was underway. If you’ve attended a Recruiting Fair, you know they are fraught with a variety of costly expenses, frustrations & the overall complication of flying thousands of miles to recruit along with hundreds of colleagues vying for the same small pool of jobs. It certainly makes sense for educators to explore other avenues.

  Has the indicated move away from relying on Recruiting Fairs become more pronounced today? We want to find out, especially with recruiting season fast approaching.

  We invite you to take the same survey we published in 2013 (with the exception of the final question which includes the option to tell us how you plan to recruit this upcoming recruiting season). Is there a trend away from Recruiting Fairs? Let’s find out!

Take the 2015 Survey
click VOTE to enter your Answer(s)

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21 thoughts on “How Pertinent are Recruiting Fairs Today? / Survey

  1. I’ve been working in the Far East for 20 years now. I’ve worked in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and Cambodia. I’ve never attended a recruitment fair. In the countries I’ve mentioned, most teachers merely have a TEFL certificate if any thing. The fact that you have a teaching degree puts you way ahead of the crowd. Schools will be competing to get you. And if you have experience with that degree then you can pretty much write your own ticket around Asia. Getting a teaching degree was one of the smartest things I’ve ever did. If you want to travel and live your life overseas then a teaching degree ensure success!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  2. Due to having a non-teaching spouse and two kids, I wasn’t allowed to join Search so I researched ISR for reputable schools, then looked at other free or nearly free international job search sites to apply directly to schools. This strategy has worked for me for a few years now so I’ll most likely do it again when I’m job hunting.

    I used Skype which wasn’t always reliable but it worked well enough for me to communicate what was needed.

    I’ve never attended a job fair so don’t know if my route is preferable. I just know it worked and I was hired even with the ‘setbacks’ of having a spouse and children.


  3. My husband and I first started in international teaching 11 years ago and the job fair was the only option. We have gotten jobs at all the fair we have attended, but not our first choices because of the way the fair are organized; often our interview slot would be cancelled because they already filled the job before even meeting us. Since then, we have gotten the last two jobs with online searches and services and Skype interviews and have saved $1,000’s of dollars. Personally I would like to see more schools go to online interviews and connections and get away from the job fairs because of the cost and stress that I don’t think always provides the best matches.


  4. Job Fairs work for young teaching couples with no kids to a maximum of two. They work well for single teachers, for anyone who doesn’t have special personal needs. If you have some “out of the box” considerations, advancing age, non-teaching spouse, more than 2 children, pets, it’s a bit more difficult, and you are better off listing with Search, ISS or TIE, but going directly through some HR departments. The comments about the “old boys [and gals] network” are true. I’ve noticed many overseas admin are in it just as much for the travel as their teachers, the difference being they do their traveling in first-class, being wined and dined in five-star hotels, while the rest of us stay in hostels and hope for safe drinking water.


  5. Years ago I enjoyed attending fairs. Then the last two my husband and I attended were simply a waste of time and money. We found our last two jobs ourselves, one through the Search database and this most recent job through an overseas jobs website. We were quite demoralised by the fair experiences, perhaps it was our ages (late 40s and early 50s) but we didn’t get many offers of interviews despite decent experience in PYP and other curriculums. One Tier 1 school offered me an interview and requested me to sign up prior to the sign ups (the green/orange slip routine) and then when I mentioned my husband at the sign up session, the school said they’d get back to us with an interview time and what do you know, they never did, never followed up our notes/emails and then ignored us at the cocktail, all very weird. Our Search profiles clearly show we are a teaching couple..I feel like a fair is good when you’re starting out early in your international career, and it can be useful to watch the school presentations, but unless you get lots of interviews in schools and places you want, it can be costly.


  6. While working in Kuwait I flew to London to attend a job fair. Not only was it expensive, but attending the fare was a complete waste of time. Later, I reviewed many of the schools I had interviewed with through ISS, and I was amazed at how many of the schools being represented were schools that had bad reputations, especially the school in Angola. Eventually, I was delighted that I did not get hired by any of the schools I interviewed with.


  7. I think with the availability of Skype and other electronic means of communication, job fairs have become less necessary. I got my first International Teaching job by answering an ad in the Boston Globe and interviewing locally. My second I answered an ad posted on tieonline and interviewed via Skype. I have never attended a job fair and think it is a LOT of time and money to spend when all the job postings are readily available online.


  8. I went to a job fair the first time I was looking to get on the international circuit and got a job but then after that I have just contacted schools directly or got jobs used the Search database and approached schools with the information Search provides. Belonging to an organization such as ISS or Search is still an important part of my strategy as it allows heads to read my confidential references. While fairs have their place I won’t be planning to use them in the future if I can avoid it as I believe by doing your research you can contact staff independently at the schools you are interested in and get an honest opinion before making the decision to accept an offer or not.


  9. 10 years ago when there were many international teaching jobs and few teachers the recruitment fairs were great because it allowed teachers plenty of opportunities to interview multiple school so the teacher could pick the best position.

    Now the same few jobs are offered at all the fairs.Each fair has about 500-600 people looking for jobs, etc. A big waste of money and time for teachers, most of whom walk away with no job.

    I would like to see electronic recruitment fairs happen. Then at least if you walk away with no job you did not spend any money.

    Another disturbing trend is schools that hire interns, as that takes jobs away from qualified teachers. Interns will work for 1/2 a teacher’s salary so it makes them attractive to schools. This further reduces the jobs available to qualified teachers.


  10. A new alternative! Read how one school has created the Global Recruitment Collaborative so that contributing schools (and yes, that is key here) can build their own recruitment pool thus skipping the expensive, time-consuming fairs:
    Yes, you have to already be in one of those schools, but this approach could be a game-changer for those who want to stay in similar-calibre schools.


  11. Randy above has hit the nail on the head. Lots of back slapping amongst the recruiters, while candidates are treated with disdain. I have been on both sides of the table and find the side of the candidate a somewhat humiliating experience and not one that I Will repeat. The candidates and recruits do not socialize so there is little to no opportunity to network unless it is with others whom you are competing with for the same position. Skype is the way forward and less expensive too.


  12. I went to a fair and not only was the experience really positive, but the interview experience I gained could never be replaced by Skype interviews. I interviewed with 5 schools and was made offers by two; I believe I chose the right one because of the feeling I got from my interviewers. While I’m making less money at my current school, the atmosphere here is wonderful and the administration is supportive and friendly, and appreciates my effort and time. That’s not the feeling I got from the other school, but if I had interviewed via Skype without going to the fair I might have made the wrong choice based on salary alone.
    I really think fairs are extremely beneficial.


  13. We agree with China teacher: “do a lot of advance networking to promote yourself and set up productive interviews at a job fair” Following that plan resulted in many interviews for us, and my wife and I secured teaching positions we are very happy with. We could not have done it without the job fair.


  14. Attending the job fair gave me the chance to see PPTs of the schools and ask questions to live people. Getting several job offers at once was better than trying to SKYPE on different time zones. It is expensive, but it is also expensive to land in a school that is not a good fit.


  15. This is my fourth international teaching job, and for the first time I didn’t attend a job fair. I did register with the major recruiting organizations so that I had access to their job databases, but I did the resume’, email, Skype thing on my own and got a desirable job that way. I signed up for a job fair as a backup plan, but didn’t need it.

    However, I now think that was a MISTAKE. I ended up having some serious pedagogy and ethics conflicts with my new employers and regretting the move. I believe that if I had interviewed with them in person rather than one Skype session, these issues would have become apparent and I would have made a better choice. But I could be wrong.

    My opinion: The middle ground, in which you do a lot of advance networking to promote yourself and set up productive interviews at a job fair, is the way to go. Skype is not a good substitute for face time when dealing with strangers.


  16. In 25 years of overseas teaching I have only attended two fairs – for my most recent two positions. At the first I was offered two positions, and at the second I ended up with a choice of 6. The advantage of the fair was that all the interviews were on the same weekend so I didn’t have to wonder – what if I lose out on the potential offer from next week´s interview if I accept a job this week.

    But I do think Skype interviews are becoming more common, and many positions have been filled by the time the fairs come around in January.


  17. While I think fairs are on the way out, being part of the database for Search, ISS, etc. is still beneficial. I landed my current, fantastic position at a top-tier school because I was registered with Search, and the school found me in the database. I hadn’t applied, as I had no desire to work in the city where the school is located, but they contacted me and I decided I needed the interview practice. After two Skype interviews, they offered me the position, and I knew I’d be an idiot to turn it down. Turns out, the city’s fine, and the school is my dream job. It wouldn’t have happened had I not been registered.


  18. Fairs are expensive and troublesome. I feel they are the “old boys” network and if you are not a part of them then you can pretty much kiss your chances good-bye. I have been in this overseas game for about 17 years and the longer I am here the less relevant the fairs become. I know very few people who even use them anymore. Our business has become awash with “backpackers” and true professional teachers are few and far between. Save money, time, and stress and do the leg work yourself. A “real administrator” with know the difference.


    1. I totally agree with your comment. The market for experienced, qualified international school teachers is growing. Schools seem to be increasingly desperate to recruit. There is no need to join recruitment fairs now. The recruiters “old boys” themselves seem very out of touch with what the modern international school requires. The issue is that the more expensive recruiters often hold a near monopoly on the “top” schools, although it is now increasingly common to see these school advertising independently.


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