How ‘Fair’ are Recruiting Fairs for Expat Teachers?

needajob15470498For educators currently living/teaching overseas, recruiting fairs are risky business. First off, you must resign your current teaching position. Then, shell out thousands of dollars to attend a recruiting venue you think offers the best chance to land a job. There are no guarantees!

Should your recruiting efforts yield anything less than a contract in hand, you’re potentially facing upcoming unemployment, and without the necessities of life in place to return to in your own country. Just the thought of such consequences is stressful.

   Looming unemployment was my situation after resigning a position in Guatemala & failing to find a position at the ISS Fair. Each & every school which had expressed interest earlier in the season had filled all the positions I was qualified to teach by the time they got to the venue. I did then scramble to find schools I thought might be a good fit & managed to secure 2 interviews. I left the fair with a firm handshake & a promise of a contract, which 2 loooong months later turned out to be empty words, leaving me with no job, no home, no car, no insurance, no school for our children…..disaster!

  When you’re currently living in your own country & decide to attend an international teaching recruiting fair, it’s simpler. You go to the fair & if you find a job, just inform your current boss you’re leaving. But for teachers currently overseas who risk financial/emotional security to attend a recruiting event, the stakes seem unreasonably high. Especially so since no one seems to care enough about educators’ well being to send an email saying, “Oh, by the way, we filled the position you were interested in.”

    Is there a solution to this dilemma? Or, as some international educators have suggested, are we really just disposable commodities to be traded with little regard for our well-being? ISR suggests international schools at least have the ethical decency to update candidates as to the continued availability (or not) of advertised openings & do so on a continual, daily basis. Something as simple as posting to a web page would accomplish this & spare many educators costly, often devastating surprises. What do YOU think?

Comments &/or Solutions Are Invited

Recruiting Fair Timing for Best Results

best-time44088211Undeniably, ISS & Search Associates are the two big players in the International Teacher recruiting industry. From November 2013 through March 2014, these two agencies, combined, sponsored no less than 20 Recruiting Fairs. Interestingly, some of these venues took place on the heels of the competitor’s Fair. For example, the Search/Bangkok Fair began the day following the conclusion of the ISS/Bangkok Fair. Search/San Francisco & ISS/San Francisco followed the same protocol.

Along with piggybacking each other, Search & ISS do the same with some minor, but well-known, players in the industry. For example, the AASSA (Association of American Schools in South America) Fair took place in Atlanta on December 5-8 & was immediately followed by ISS/Atlanta on December 8-10. The Search/Toronto & Queens University/Ontario Fairs were on the exact same dates, January 24-26.

Business is business & just as McDonald’s opens a ‘restaurant’ right across the street from Jack-In-the-Box, recruiting agencies appear to follow the same business model. The question is, with recruiters so strongly competing for your dollar, how do YOU choose a Fair that’s right for YOU? If you’re new to International Teacher recruiting, you might opt to attend the event closest to you.  But isn’t this a bit like buying a Chevrolet instead of a Ford based solely on a dealership’s proximity to your home? Recruiting Fairs, like automobiles & dealerships, each have their individual characteristics & shopping around before you commit may well be the smartest option for your overseas teaching career.

ISR asks: With a multitude of Fairs to choose from, how do you pick the Fair that’s right for YOU? If you participated in a Recruiting Fair this season, what criteria did you use to select a fair to attend? Was your decision based on a list of schools slated to attend? Flying distance? Or, the reputation of the particular Fair to hire predominantly couples, or singles or newbies, experienced educators, families with kids, etc? For example, the Bangkok Fairs have a reputation for hiring experienced overseas educators while some Fairs are known for hiring mostly seasoned couples.

Tell us about YOUR experiences this recruiting season. Why did you select one Recruiting Fair over another? Did your instincts prove valid? Did you sign a contract? This information will greatly help colleagues recruiting in 2015!

Thank you!