Recruiting Season Red Alerts

….Educators are reporting that some schools are treating them like mere commodities this recruiting season. Some recruiting candidates have even gone so far as to refer to the recruiting process as something akin to a “cattle drive.” Based on Comments found in ISR School Reviews, there is validity in this statement.

None of us want to feel we’re being played like a pawn on a board game. To help keep you safe, here are the 5 most often reported shenanigans engaged in by less- than-transparent schools. If you’ve been on the circuit already, you’ll recognize them. If you’re new to the game, keep your eyes open!

 Suspect Scenarios

You’ve been offered a position on a handshake  

It’s been 3 weeks since a school made you a verbal commitment and you still don’t yet have a Contract and/or follow-up emails. Worse yet, your position is still advertised on the school’s website.

This can be unnerving and a situation that demands attention. Some Directors do offer positions and then continue searching for someone more qualified. We consider this highly unethical and find it more prevalent among lower-tier schools that have trouble attracting qualified candidates.

Should you find yourself in this situation, don’t be shy. Pick up the phone, call the school. Ask to speak to the Director. Better yet, you should already have the Director’s direct cell number. In any case, don’t hold back! Your career, financial well-being and future are at stake. If the Director side-steps you, sounds wishy-washy, non-committal or vague, it’s time to start looking out for number one! Be sure to post a School Review on ISR and warn colleagues about what they can expect.

You were told you’re 2nd on the list

You haven’t heard anything for a couple of weeks. You’ve emailed the Director and he/she told you, “I’m still waiting for my first choice to get back to me.” This could be true. Like schools, highly desirable teachers have been known to stall while they wait for their 1st choice to respond. Question is, are you willing to stake your future on a string of events over which you have no control? ISR recommends you don’t shut any doors. Leave this one open as you explore other avenues. The longer you wait, the less chance you’ll have of landing a position.

Director says he/she must present you to the Board for final approval

In this situation, ask yourself 3 questions:  1) Do I want to wait weeks for a final decision that may not turn out in my favor?  2) Why would the Board feel the need to monitor this Director’s staffing choices? 3) Is this just a ploy to keep me on the back-burner while the Director searches for a more qualified/prettier/younger/older/taller/shorter candidate? At this point, keep your options open.

The Contracts aren’t ready yet

School Directors have been known to attend recruiting fairs and offer positions without a prepared Contract in hand. Comments usually include something to the effect that the Board is still finalizing next year’s Contract.

ISR Asks: What kind of school Board sends their Director half-way around the world to hire staff without a finalized Contract to offer? Certainly, they knew about the trip for at east 6 months in advance. Is the Board completely dysfunctional or just crafty? Many ISR School Reviews attest to the fact that accepting an overseas teaching position without knowing what you’re committing to can prove disastrous.

Verbal promises are not in the Contract

You want to believe everything the Director is telling you, but why does the Contract lack so many of the verbal promises made to you? If you can live with what’s in the Contract, okay. If not, think twice. There’s a reason why your Contract doesn’t contain the most appealing parts of the offer.

Stay Safe!

International Schools are not bound by the rules and regulations of the West. Most International Schools are foreign entities simply recruiting for teachers from the West. One can only hope they would be held to Western standards.

The labor laws to which you and your Contract will later be held are those of the county in which the school is located, not those of the country in which your Contract is signed. Take nothing for granted!  ISR can’t stress this point strongly enough. Those little ‘nothings not worth mentioning’ when you’re recruiting for a home-country job, need to be on the table and in the Contract when you’re going overseas. We’re not saying no schools can be trusted. There are loads of great schools out there. It’s the ones that aren’t you need watch for.

Along with the 5 scenarios we’ve outlined, there’s much more to be aware of when planning to leave it all behind for a foreign land. ISR strongly recommends you familiarize yourself with the International Teachers’ Bill of Rights. This comprehensive document, distilled from the input of 100s of International Educators, is the result of the very real experiences of teachers who were mistreated during the recruiting process, and thereafter. Each entry in the International Teachers’ Bill of Rights is included for a reason. It’s there to alert you to what to watch for and to keep you safe.

Don’t take chances with your career. Before you sign on the line, consult the International Teachers’ Bill of Rights.  You’ll be glad you did!


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8 Responses to Recruiting Season Red Alerts

  1. Tucky says:

    I am not sure what to do. I was offered a contract by a school in Costa Rica , a for – profit school, not reviewed in ISR. I signed the contract and sent it off. The next day I was asked “when I wanted to arrive” in CR, and said a few days before orientation, if possible. I didn’t hear anything back. I wrote them again today, nothing. I do not have a copy of their signed contract by the “owner”, as they have not sent it back to me.

    Is this a red flag? Should I just sit tight? I do know that there is only a director at the school, and maybe she is just busy? I just have a weird feeling about this….


  2. jeannie says:

    The part that shocked me was that the school in Bangladesh that did not honor my Principal contract is in a partnership agreement with my province (Manitoba) in Canada and their recruiter was also their paid off-site Director of the school and attended monthly meetings in Manitoba with the Dept of Ed-yet they both said they could do nothing ! Since 2015 when I first worked in this school, they are on their 5th Principal and still have their partnership agreement. I wrongly believed their associations in Canada would be my my safe-guard.


    • Josef Gerbase says:

      I went through the same situation in Turkey with Northern Texas University. After that experience, I refuse to work for partnership schools. The western partners abandon their workers to the foreign schools and then just shrug their shoulders and walk away.


  3. Jim says:

    Be wary of some of the unscrupulous recruitment agencies out there. They just want resumes to send off and are more interested than acting in the interests of the school and getting their commission than ensuring a candidate is well placed.


  4. omgarsenal says:

    There is a specific process to protect yourself as much as possible from unethical and unscrupulous schools:

    1) Do your due diligence…investigate, ask, review and read ISR or similar sites.

    2) Visit the school’s website and take notes, then call the director and ask salient questions, and also ask to speak to the incumbent if they are still there.

    3) In the interview, you should also interview your interviewer. Ask tough ¨what if ¨questions that probe issues of concern to you. Take visible written notes or record the interview and explain that you need this information to help you decide between options.

    4) check with your country’s embassy or consul if they are in the country of interest. Ask to speak to parent’s whose kids go to your target school.

    5) Visit the country’s embassy as well, if they are in your country of origin. I did this twice and found out a lot of interesting stuff about two schools I later turned down contracts for.

    6) Find a lawyer who may know the laws of the country you are planning to go to and ask them about work regulations and protections. Most big law firms have overseas contacts that can help as well, if you explain your reasons for needing this information target country. If the target school is using your country’s

    7) Your country may have a department of foreign affairs or something similar where they keep detailed fact sheets and records for the potential country you are looking at. They also have lists of ex-pat associations that may offer insight and they might be able to help obtaining details and record.

    Good luck to anyone going overseas, but luck isn’t enough you need foresight and insight as well.


  5. Not again says:

    I was severely burnt thinking that what I was promised would be a given even though the items were not mentioned in the contract. Really!!! Listen to what you’re being promised and then ask for it in writing, especially things that have to do with health insurance, housing, air fights, etc. I was shocked at the line of s***t I was fed by this school director who turned out to be more dishonest than a politician.


  6. Got the t-shirt says:

    Regarding #5, remember that healthcare specifics should also be on the contract. Have been told too often that “We’ll send you the paperwork later.”

    #6 for red flags: The interview is too easy. The recruiter doesn’t dig into teaching philosophies or classroom practices. Doesn’t even seem to have read your CV. Prefers to have “a conversation rather than an interview,” but the conversation is a bunch of softball talking points like, “What’s your favorite part of travel?” and “So many single teachers meet their spouses here!” (cringe)

    In short: if you don’t sweat during the interview, at least a little bit, the recruiter is out of touch with the affairs of the school.


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