5 Tips for Surviving International School Job Fairs

Attending international school job fairs can be a harrowing experience, but are an efficient strategy to incorporate into your hunt for a teaching job abroad. All international teachers have a few stories to tell about their experiences at these job fairs.

I was sharing job fair stories with a colleague today and I was surprised at his take on the whole process. He nearly made a choice that would have cost him the job that he is currently enjoying here in Thailand.

We were talking about the initial job fair session – the sign up. During the sign up session schools are set up with a desk in one or two rooms at the venue. Teachers then come along and sign up for interviews with the schools that interest them. Depending on which job fair you attend, this can be a real cattle market of pushing and shoving. At the very least it’s going to involve standing in line.

My colleague didn’t want to wait in any lines, so he initially approached only schools with short ones. The line for our current employer was one of the longest in the room and put him off. Finally he decided to join the line after reading some of the literature the school had with them for prospective teachers. During the 25 minute wait he nearly gave up and left several times, but didn’t. Which is just as well because the position he currently holds is one that really suits him and he’s enjoying living and working here in Thailand.

I approach the sign up session with a plan. I have several copies of my application pack already prepared and spend the time waiting in line talking to the teachers around me to get insider information on schools and positions.

What is your plan?

Check the international teaching job fair organiser’s website the evening before the sign up session for changes in vacancies. International school vacancies are fluid and can change from day to day, especially once the job fairs start. When you go into the sign up session take with you an up-to-date list of schools with suitable vacancies. This will enable you to line up in the lines that are going to get you the best result.

Look at the international schools’ websites prior to attending the sign up session. If possible look at the school’s websites to find out what programs they offer, whether they are in the center of the city or in the suburbs, what extra curricular activities they offer, what accreditations they have. This can assist you in deciding whether they are going to be a suitable employer for you.

Take extra copies of your application pack to give to school recruiters. Your application pack is your ticket to getting interviews. If you’re following the strategies I give you in The Complete Guide to Securing a Job at an International School, you should have emailed your application pack to the attending schools that have relevant vacancies prior to the commencement of the job fair. In
addition to this, take extra copies with you to the job fair, and especially the sign up session, to give to schools that suddenly put up vacancies that interest you.

Be prepared to wait in line to talk to the international school recruiters. When you attend a job fair, remember that a long line could indicate a school where teachers want to work, and vice versa. To help you make the decision about whether you stand in line and wait, go to the front of the line and see if there’s any literature on the table that you can take away and read.

Use the time you stand in line to gather information. International school teachers attend these teaching job fairs and they are a vital source of information. Use the time you are standing in line waiting to talk to recruiters to elicit information about different schools, programs and conditions. Ask them all the questions you have because they’re the best source of information you’ll find and while you’re all standing in line, what else can you do?