Attending an international teaching job fair can be very stressful. Whether it is for your first teaching job overseas or your tenth, international job fairs can play havoc with your nerves. This stress can affect your ability to show your best side to recruiters, so eliminating it is a priority. One sure fire way to reduce or even remove the stress you feel is to have a backup plan.
Your backup plan can take many guises. Here are two that I have used successfully in the past to make attending overseas teaching recruitment events more bearable:
1. Plan to attend more than one overseas recruiting fair
There are more than ten job fairs each year that are dedicated to international school teacher recruitment, and you can apply to attend more than one per year. You can even attend more than one organized by the same recruiting agency.
Not every international school attends each fair. You can meet directors from many different international schools if you go to more than one job fair. One way to ensure that you get maximum exposure to recruiters is to apply to attend more than one fair.
The different job fair organizers; Search Associates, CIS and ISS have different schools recruiting with them, so mixing up your job fair registration and attending more than one job fair can increase your chances of finding the perfect overseas teaching position for you.
Many of the job fair organizers offer job fairs in the same locations back to back, so you can fly into Bangkok or London for example and attend two job fairs organized by two agencies in a single trip. Full details of the dates and locations of the job fairs organized by the three big organizers are available in The Complete Guide to Securing a Job at an International School.
2. Know what your next move will be if you do not get offered an international teaching contract this academic year.
When I attended my first international teaching job fair I had two backup plans in the unlikely event that none of the school directors offered me a contract. I did not have to implement either of them, which is a shame in some ways, because my backup plans were almost as exciting as teaching abroad in an international school!
Here are some backup plans you may wish to explore…
> taking a year out and travelling around the world – you can find places you would like to live along the way and begin relationships with recruiters by visiting them at their schools.
> volunteering with an organization that teaches refugees or works with local teachers to improve methodology and pedagogy – this is an excellent way to gain international experience which will make you more attractive to international school recruiters.
> signing up with the Teachers on the Move, a company that finds temporary teachers for international schools to cover for maternity or long term sickness positions.
> applying for a teacher exchange program such as the JET program that places teachers in Japanese public schools, or the VIF program which places overseas trained teachers in American public schools.
Once you have made your decision to attend a job fair and received your invitation, you need to prepare for an intense two days in a pressure-cooker environment. Careful planning prior to the event and conscious networking at the event are the keys to landing a great teaching job abroad.