If you have read any of the articles I have written prior to this, you will know I’m a proponent of spreading yourself around in order to secure a teaching position in an international school. This is the approach that I have used successfully and I still believe it is an excellent strategy for kicking off your international teaching career. However, I thought I’d better write an article on strategies for educators who are looking for their second or third overseas teaching position. Those international educators with some overseas work experience under their wing may choose to use this longer-term strategy to secure their next teaching position.
Once you’ve been working in the international education sector for a while, you’ll soon come to realize there are international schools and then there are ‘international schools’. Some international schools are international in name only, some schools have student bodies that are populated heavily with the children of privileged, local families, so that you end up teaching in what is essentially an English Speaking School.
Teachers love to talk! In fact, one of the reasons I accepted the position I currently hold is because teachers I met at the international teaching job fair I attended recommended the school to me. I now keep a list of schools that have great reputations, and another list of schools that I know I definitely don’t want to work in. I base my list on what I’ve heard from teachers that I work with or meet at professional development events.
Once you have identified which schools will suit your needs by talking to colleagues, peers and doing some research, you’ll need a strategy for landing a great teaching position with them.
First Contact Plus
I have dubbed this strategy ‘First Contact Plus’ because the first contact you make with a school you want to work for may not result in employment being offered. The key to this strategy is persistence and making yourself known.
This strategy comes into its own when you do not have a fixed time-frame in which you need to see results. It might take years for this strategy to pay off. I know of one colleague who has been using this strategy to woo a particularly desirable school for several years, and only this year have there been any real rewards.
How does the strategy work? Well, it starts by you sending your application pack to the recruiter in question when the recruiting season starts. Do not wait for your desired school to post vacancies. You are not applying for a job, what you are trying to do is become known to the recruiter. You do not include a letter of application with your pack, you write a personalized letter of introduction.
Follow this up with a phone call a week later, asking the recruiter if they received your application pack and making inquiries about the school’s recruitment process. Should be a vacancy that would suit your credentials and experience, press for an interview
If you should attend an international teacher recruitment fair that season, introduce yourself personally to the recruiter attending the fair to represent your favored school. You must introduce yourself regardless of whether there is a position open that you could fill, or not. When you meet the recruiter, remind them about yourself and offer your regrets that there is not a suitable vacancy this season that you could fill. Clearly let the recruiter know that you find the idea of working at their school desirable and ask if you can stay in touch with the view to seeking employment in the future. When you get their permission to stay in touch you can email them without it being considered SPAM.
This completes the ‘First Contact’ part of the strategy. Next, the ‘Plus’.
Once you have made contact with the recruiter you need to remain in the front of their mind. Be warned, this does not mean stalking the recruiter, but rather building a relationship with them so that you are at the top of the list when a suitable vacancy eventuates. Each season send your application pack to the recruiter, send them Christmas cards if appropriate, let them know of any professional development, positions of responsibility or other additions to your resume. Whenever you are attending a recruitment event, meet and greet the recruiter in person. If you are holidaying near the school when they are in session, then request to visit.
You can see why this is an advanced, long-term strategy for landing the perfect job teaching overseas. It takes some effort and you will need to have access to the job fairs etc. However, the results can be well-worth the effort you put into it. First Contact Plus is a strategy that puts a spin on a marketing strategy called ‘relationship marketing’ where companies attempt to build a sustainable competitive advantage by nurturing a relationship with suppliers and customers alike.