Posted by ISR Guest Blogger
In sour economies like the current one, teaching becomes a popular refuge for its high job stability and, especially among international schools, easy mobility. After a training program, laid-off workers can enter the profession in relatively short order, and certified teachers, who may have been working in other professions, can re-enter teaching when they see their prospects dry up elsewhere. The economy can even be the final spur that motivates people to change directions and act on a long-held desire to teach.
The trade-off is, of course, money. Would-be teachers considering a switch from a higher-paying profession balk, or at least should balk, at the idea of taking a $25,000 starting salary at a second-tier international school. Poor economy or not, such numbers are insulting to any serious-minded professional. Recruiters will never fail to emphasize how much you can save given the cost of living in many countries. Still, some quick math, generally corroborated by reviewers on ISR, will show that the savings are rarely all that much when working at the bottom of the salary ladder.
So what can career changers or those returning to the profession after a long absence do to sell themselves? First, let’s consider the advantages older candidates bring to international teaching. Those in their 30s and 40s (hopefully) bring a greater reliability to their duties. It’s less likely that these will be the faculty members coming into class bleary-eyed after an all-night binger. Second, older candidates have probably already withstood significant job stress which can make them less likely to become “runners” when things don’t go as planned abroad. Most importantly, older candidates can bring related professional skills with them that school heads would be wise to note. For example:
Candidates with management experience often make great leaders at the department or administrative level. Those with athletic prowess can be inspiring coaches. Those coming from IT are likely to be far more agile in classroom technologies than the average instructor. Those who have experience in foreign languages, or with a specific foreign population, should highlight how quickly they would adapt to X, Y or Z country or situation.
How much related skills are worth in real terms is anyone’s guess, and many school heads have blinders on to everyone but the most experienced candidates, but whatever added value you can communicate in your profile might give you a step up on what would otherwise be a very tall ladder. Career-changers and others, ISR invites you to share your thoughts on this topic.