It might be Christmas holidays, but it is also that time of year again; teachers, administrators and Heads fresh CVs, school profiles and contracts in hand are all converging on a few key cities to attend the recruitment fairs. Teachers trying to decide if the lower salary package but better learning environment in school A would be a better option than the higher package, but also higer taxes at school B might be better, Heads of schools trying to balance hiring this teaching couple or that Librarian from this fair, but what about the couple that are attending the recruitment fair next week in London, it really is a big juggling act and anything can happen.
The big players are still Search, ISS and CIS and you need to bring your A game, really go in with a good mental attitude. Be prepared. Know your strengths and know how to best portray your skills. Research the school, find out as much as you can. No administrator wants to hear someone saying “What curriculum do you use again?” It shows that you do not care about that school and do not really want that job. (However, be honest as well, recruiters can tell when they are being lied to.)
Without meaning to state the obvious but wear suits or at least good pants, shirt and tie. I’ve seen people turn up in shorts and jeans and wondered if they were serious. Bring fresh copies of your resume; bring some thank you cards for each and every interview you get. It might be more expensive to stay in the same hotel as the recruitment fair, but the ease and convenience of being there the whole time, the availability of yourself to attend a second interview, if needs be far exceeds the cost and thus rewards the candidate who really wants that job. Add to that the ability to go and have a nap, watch TV, read a book on your bed and then have a shower and freshen up makes those long days much easier.
Many schools do not advertise their latest openings until the morning of the fair, so get there early, read all the school profiles, check their latest offerings in case the job you want is there. Bring a laptop, many schools now also set up additional interviews via skype with staff back at the school, so be prepared for that too.
Talk to other candidates, get a feel for how different schools interview and what they are looking for, but do not feel discouraged or intimidated by other candidates, you never know exactly what a school is looking for, so it still might be you! Also try to avoid that bunch of teachers complaining, there is always a group. The hotel’s too crowded, the school variety is too small, the organization of the fair is not good, it’s too hard to get IB experience when all schools want someone that already has experience, blah blah blah. These people will bring you down; they’ll put you into a negative mental space which will impact upon your interviews.
Most of all do not get discouraged, often the foundation is set at a recruitment fair but you may need to wait for a week or two after the Heads attend other fairs, or have other candidates decline or staff at their school confirm they are leaving. So even when things look bleak something may suddenly come up. Or the reverse, some schools will pressure you to sign a contract immediately, don’t! Give the other recruiters and other schools a chance as well, ask for a few days to think about it, talk with your partner, ask to speak to a current teacher via email etc. Research, research and research. Unless it is your dream school, there is no need to rush to sign.
And finally a quick word about Teacher Recruitment International (TriAust) cancelled. Disappointing! What on earth were/are they thinking? I feel sorry for anyone (candidates or Heads of Schools) that had already booked their tickets, in my mind I think that spells the end of this company in this form. For a few years they have been changing, moving more towards bulk recruitment of teaching staff (usually with no overseas experience) for new schools in places like China etc. I used to really recommend this recruitment company because although they were a small player compared to the big ones, they had some great opportunities, good schools and gave a personalized experience. No more!