A Brief History of Recruiting & the Future of COVID-Driven Virtual Fairs

Back in the day, if you wanted to quickly get your resume into the hands of a school Director in a far off land, fax was the only way to go. In 1989, faxing my 2-page resume from a school in Thailand to a school I hoped would hire me in South America cost a hefty $45 U.S in long distance phone charges. And that’s only because I got lucky and the document “transmitted” successfully on the first try over decaying old phone lines suffering from the usual heat and humidity of Thailand. Faxing could get frustrating and expensive, and very quickly!

Fortunately, that’s all changed. Whomever got the idea to use email and “Skype” to successfully land an International Teaching position is unknown, but as early as 2007 teachers were sharing news of successful virtual recruiting experiences on the ISR Forum. The trend was catching on! After all, it was virtually free (pun intended) as compared to fax and/or in-person Recruiting Fairs.

Recruiters, realizing hordes of teachers were landing jobs without them, began organizing virtual Recruiting Fairs to take the place of their high-priced, in-person venues. Their efforts, however, came years after schools and educators had been going it alone on “Skype” and other platforms. Were the agencies too late? It appeared that way.

Then came COVID. Large gatherings in close quarters were off-limits and without a doubt the global pandemic helped increase the popularity of online recruiting. As such, schools and teachers who had relied on in-person recruiting at the large agency-sponsored Fairs were now forced to rely on technology. Naturally they turned to online Fairs organized by the same agencies sponsoring the brick-and-mortar venues they had once attended.

ISR asks: Did COVID put Recruiting agencies at the right place, at the right time to make a success of their virtual recruiting platforms? Will the current popularity of virtual Recruiting Fairs fade along with COVID, or are they the trend of the future? How do you see the future of going it alone on “Skype” and other venues if brick-and-mortar venues become extinct?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

7 thoughts on “A Brief History of Recruiting & the Future of COVID-Driven Virtual Fairs

  1. The in person fairs allow for administrators to meet and party with other administrators on the schools dime for multiple weeks during the school year. Hopefully virtual will continue and expand, because it is more convenient and less expensive for the people delivering the learning product (the teachers).


  2. The immediacy, the connections, the human touch of job fairs is what ensures they will never go away. Online is more cost effective for both parties, but in the end engaging with someone eye-to-eye is also best for both parties. I was one who enjoyed the vibe of job fairs…I attended 6.


  3. I registered with Search Associates for this recruitment season. Upon registrations I received access to one virtual fair for free. I really didn’t feel a virtual fair was any more effective than just contacting schools directly myself when they advertised on the SA portal. To attend a fair requires a fair bit of preparation time. It was disappointing when a lot of schools just didn’t respond to my requests for interviews.

    While I am generally happy with the service SA provides, I think next time round I will forget the v. fairs and just contact schools directly.


  4. This is slightly off topic, but in three interviews, over the last year, either via skype, zoom or team, I was dealing very early on with HR. In one instance, I had an initial interview with HR, and no one else. I am unhappy with this trend, if it is one, because the job of HR is, in my view, to fill quotas, and as such, they don’t always give you the full picture. In one instance, the woman I spoke with did not provide all the details of the job and it wasn’t until I was interviewing with the principal, that those emerged and I declined to go any further with the process. What a waste of time, for all of us.


  5. Online fairs….trash.

    Was it less stressful? Yes. We’re sign ups much MUCH easier? Yes.

    Were schools responsive? No.

    And that’s where it didn’t go well. At an in-person fair, a school will almost always tell you yes or no for interviews. Online, we got responses from perhaps 20% of our requests (and we sent quite a few, including to schools we hadn’t thought we would).

    I think the problem was three-fold:

    1. The time difference. Schools were expected to have someone checking all 24 hours. That’s rough and I don’t think it worked.

    2. There were far more candidates than at an in-person fair. The fairs felt no different than just sending an email/normal communication to a school. It felt like everything got lost in the noise. Most of our requests for interviews went unresponsive. A few went to checking our profile, but never left that status, even days later. And the rest, albeit small minority, we’re either approved or denied.

    3. The personal touch. A resume is just one part of who we are and can go a long ways (or not) in getting an interview.

    I felt these were the biggest issues. There were other problems too, however. If a job opened up after you’d contacted a school, you couldn’t request another interview for that position, you were required to contact the school normally. This meant losing out on potential jobs as that email/message went to the general messages that anyone could send the school, whether attending the fair or not.


  6. They have a future, if they can be better organised and productive. So far though, they have missed the mark.

    However, I am sure that people will miss the joys of catching the eye of an old white man in a suit, in the hotel lobby, that may be able to offer you a position at his school.


    1. Don’t forget the old white women also. But worst is the middle aged ambitious administrator who is only interested in climbing to the next rung in the ladder…..the old white man rung.


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