Virtual Recruiting Fairs – Too Little, Too Late?

Back in the day, long before broadband, landing an International Teacher position was dependent on finicky, old fax machines and land-line phones. Faxing a 1-page resume plus a cover letter from my school in Thailand to a prospective school in South America in 1989, cost me a hefty $45 U.S. and that’s because I got lucky and the document “transmitted” successfully down the tired old phone lines on the first try. 

Brick and mortar recruiting venues made sense at that time. We sent our documents to one of the big recruiters and they acted as a central clearing house of sorts, putting teachers and schools together for a frantic three-day, face-to-face event known as a Recruiting Fair (often referred to as a “cattle call”). You finagled time off from your current job, plunked down thousands of dollars on airfare, accommodations and fair attendance fees, and hoped for the best.

Today, all that’s ancient history. Thanks to modern technology the need for a recruiting venue has all but disappeared. Whoever got the idea to “Skype” for an International Teaching position had the right idea. As early as 2009 “Skypeing” for teaching jobs was already happening and being talked about on ISR Discussion Boards. Here is a glimpse into the past:

2009Will Skype Replace the  Fairs?  2012Skype Your Way into an Overseas Teaching Position.  2019Survey: Are  Recruiting Fairs Headed for extinction?

Less than 10% of 447 educators surveyed in 2019 found positions at Recruiting Fairs

Slow to get with the trend, recruiting agencies have recently organized virtual Fairs. A great many schools and educators, however, have already been successfully recruiting for years using Skype-type venues, without the need for a high priced middleman. Are virtual Fairs too little, too late? 

ISR Asks:   Have YOU participated in a virtual Recruiting Fair? Were you hired at the Fair or was the event basically a ‘meet and greet’? Is there any advantage to recruiting through an online Fair as opposed to going it alone? Considering we are living in the age of social distancing with large gatherings at the top of the list of taboos, what effect do you think coming late to the virtual recruiting arena will have on the future of recruiting agencies?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

9 thoughts on “Virtual Recruiting Fairs – Too Little, Too Late?

  1. Search, etc. still have a role to play for teachers as a “clearinghouse” to easily find what positions are available, w/o having to hunt down the individual websites of all international schools. Conversely, if there were one place schools could post w/o having to pay the exorbitant fees, and all teachers could look there for openings, they would then be moot. We need a TES Online for international schools.


    1. This is the main reason I join Search Associates. The money is well worth paying to get a daily email with all of the new job openings in my teaching area. It would take a massive amount of time to hunt for openings through all of the school websites. Also, I’m not even aware that some of those schools exist. I don’t really care about the hiring fairs, because once I apply I can interview with them by Skype. But getting a list of job openings every day throughout the recruiting season is priceless.


    2. TES charges schools hundreds and thousands of pounds just to list jobs, with no vetting, confidential references etc. Most people don’t know that TES makes a pretty penny off of schools.


  2. Face to face sitting together is absolutely critical. The top determinants of success is attitude and demeanor. God forbid we hire a racist with victim outlook.


    1. And how will sitting with them for 30 minutes in a hotel room tell you that they aren’t a “racist with victim outlook”?!? And by the way, that sounds like a really “racist with victim outlook” thing to say.


  3. Totally too little too late!
    I think people are starting to see the irrelevance more and more of recruiting agencies and in-person fairs.


  4. As a school leader and recruiter, I much prefer a face to face fair when possible. It enables you to get more of a sense of the candidates and have preliminary conversations with candidates at sign up, which can be really useful for both sides.


  5. I have participated in two successful virtual interviews. However, it was a rather unusual situation. I had my CV “live” with Search Associates, but I was not looking actively for a position. As it happened, two schools found themselves in an emergency situation (no experienced IB Science teacher in June!). They contacted me, contacted my references and presto! I’ve got a job. I also had one, or two inconclusive interviews on line. The reasons for which there was no offer rendered had nothing to do with the on line venue. Most certainly the future is in interviews on line.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I attended and was hired at a virtual fair this last spring. I think they are definitely the way to go, especially considering the times we’re in. Knowing that heads of school have set aside this time to recruit is the advantage over regular Skype video calls. Having several schools reach out over the course of the weekend and being able to compare offers in a limited time was certainly advantageous. I would attend a virtual fair again.


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