International job fairs
This page describes the initial part of a successful job fair. The updated listings, dates and locations are available on the members' site.
As soon as you enter the airport to leave for the conference, you must become a professional. There will be candidates and employers all over town. Be on your toes everywhere you go. Don't play loud music or turn up the volume on your television. Your neighbor could be your future director.
Remember: Friday morning for two hours is the sign-up period. The majority of candidates will have from two to eight interviews, (UNI reports 6 on average) but the number of interviews varies depending upon teaching fields, interest and flexibility for considering positions in several geographic areas, and experience and qualifications compared with other candidates.
Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday are devoted to interviews. Prepare! You'll arrive on Wednesday or Thursday and upon registering will receive a large packet of information. This is your passport for the upcoming weekend. This packet contains information about the schools, locations, size, statistics, salary and benefits packages and more. There will be all sorts of papers and statistics so carefully filter through the information looking for good matches to you and your qualifications and mark them clearly. This process will take you anywhere from two hours to all night.
Make a list of the top five schools you would like to interview with and write them out clearly on a piece of paper. This is an important element of the job hunting. Without a list, you are likely to get lost in the hectic atmosphere of the fair. You need a rudder! Keep this document handy during Friday's registration.
Meanwhile, the recruiters have dossiers on all the teachers attending the fair. There is a bulletin board for candidates in the lobby where they can post notices should they wish you to schedule an interview with them.
Check this board several times before Friday morning and also just before the fair begins. At my very first fair, I had my schools prioritized only to discover, as I entered for the sign-up, three new notices were posted for me which hadn't been there the previous evening. I was badly rattled by this unexpected occurrence and immediately reprioritized my schools placing these three in the forefront. This was a big mistake. It messed up my whole schedule. So next time I knew better!
As it turned out, the school in Rome was an extremely bizarre place where teachers had to sleep on the premises and barely earned enough money for a plate of spaghetti and another in Florence only wanted to ask about my mother who was living in Tuscany. The third school was private girls school in Japan which was moderately interesting but had some odd stipulations which is why I had overlooked while looking through the conference offerings. Stick with your original list!
The recruiters will be seated alphabetically around one or several rooms. The purpose of the sign-up session is for them to meet potential teachers and to schedule interviews with those they would like to interview during the weekend.
Be sure to read the signs posted above the recruiter's tables. The signs will list any last-minute changes not noted in your information packet and should clearly announce the vacancies being sought so you don't unnecessarily stand in a line where there is ultimately nothing for you to apply for. I've stood in these lines and it's heartbreaking to lose 20 minutes of your 120 standing at a dead end. You are also bound to be disappointed by the updated news appearing on one of these notice boards, but again, it's better to know there is no job offering before losing the time in line which could be spent elsewhere.
Don't grumble if he rooms will be unbearably crowded. There will be long lines with hundreds of people waiting in them. Try to make sense of the alphabetical arrangement and make your way to the top school on your list to try to schedule an interview. If the line is enormous, go to the second school you chose.
Retain your sense of self. I've known too many people who couldn't stand the pressure of the sign-up who consequently spent a lost weekend, a fellow teacher who spent his savings only to score one interview, no job and much personal humiliation. If you aren't able to withstand the pressure, find another means of securing an overseas post. Don't waste your resources attending this type of recruiting fair.
Be one of the first in line! Often there are many applicants for a given school and by the time you get to the front of the line there are no interviewing time slots left for your specialty (for example the school will only be interviewing 10 elementary and 10 secondary positions to leave room for second interviews). There is little to do to control this other than to be first in line - it begins to form before 7:30 A.M!
Schedule an interview. Once you get to the front of the line, make eye contact with the interviewer and introduce yourself clearly and calmly. "Hello, my name is Pamela Campbell and I'd like to apply for the 3rd grade position. I have 7 years of teaching experience and I am computer literate." Smile.
Move on to your next priority on your school list. Do not discuss the crowds or complain about the facilities. The interviewer will make a quick decision about whether to schedule an interview with you or not. He or she may ask for a bit more information or to see your resume. Be calm, attentive and confident. Do not waste this person's or your own time. Schedule an interview and move on.
Remain positive and focused. Keep your eyes open, you never know when the opportunity knocks. During my last conference I was keen to teach in Vienna but turned away because I didn't have the requisite 5 years' experience. Upon leaving the "A" section I passed a lonely recruiter representing Sofia, Bulgaria in the "B's". He was a bearded, pleasant looking man and his sign read that he was looking for several elementary teachers. I stopped to introduce myself and scheduled an interview.
Adjust to the structure: the interviews are scheduled in one hour blocks. If possible, try to schedule your interviews as close together as possible to keep the momentum going and to give yourself a solid break to leave the hotel for some fresh air. Most recruiters will have spoken to enough people by the end of Saturday that few new interviews are scheduled for Sunday except for 2nd or even 3rd repeat interviews.
You must be in top form. Don't even think about letting down. Stand straight and tall. Don't burden in line with a laptop, handbag or any other unnecessary items you would have to carry around with you.
Your résumé (CV) with a photo attached is all you should need. There is the possibility of a chance meeting with a director in an elevator or at breakfast but don't count on it. If you have a meal with a director, be very careful about what you say.
Send thank you notes to every director you've interviewed with! It increases your chances when there are several candidates for a position. Most you competitors still won't do it!
Attending any job fair without preliminary contacts with your prospect schools is risky.
You are competing against seasoned international professionals!
Our approach is to communicate with the prospective employers via a personal recruitment website. Once engaged, many schools will interview via Skype so you won't even need to go to a job fair!
“Fight fair, but avoid fair fights.”
Employ our program for a winning advantage.