Friday, February 1, 2013

Post London

Last weekend, Amanda and I traveled to London, England for an international teaching job fair.  We have enjoyed our time in Kuwait and the Middle East, but the time has come for us to move onto a new school and a new country.

Going into the job fair we were both pretty nervous.  We had already declined to renew our contracts with our current school, and we were dealing with the anxiety of not having lined up anything for next year.  Add to that our lack of experience (only 2 years, and no IB) we weren't sure if we would be competitive.  We were, though, and we had a wonderful experience.

The process is a bit insane, but well worth it.  We arrived to the fair on Friday, and we immediately began going to a few presentations. They were from the fair organizers, and,  later, the recruiting schools themselves.  These were great, because they afforded us the opportunity to see what the schools and countries were like.  We came out pleasantly surprised by quite a few of them.

While the interviews are happening, candidates and recruiters can place messages (CVs and notes in the case of candidates) for each other in the designated mail boxes.  Amanda and I each had a mail folder, and we were asked to interview with several schools through this process.  In turn, we put our CVs and a visual cover letter in the mail folders of several of our top choice schools.

The visual cover letter is something we created in PowerPoint   We initially created it for the interview sign-up session (see below), but we decided to include a few in the packages we were submitting to our top choice schools.

At 4:00pm on Friday the interview sign-up started.  This is a mad house period of 2.5 hours where candidates shuffle around a couple of rooms asking to have interviews with schools for positions they have posted. You don't have a lot of time to speak with each school, so you have to make it count.  In all but one case the recruiters were very friendly when we approached.  If they didn't think we would be a good fit (no IB, for instance) they told us and we moved on.

Several schools offered to look through our packages and contact us later about interviews (and all of them did, it turns out).  The schools that we pre-applied to remembered us even if they hadn't scoured our CVs yet, because of our visual cover letters.  They stood out and seem to make a difference.  Once you go to all of the schools you want to and line up your interviews for the next few days you are done for the night.  We were beat, but we decided to go to the restaurant/bar for a snack/drink before heading back to our hotel.  Interestingly enough, we were approached by a recruiter from a very, very good school while we were there.  His school only had a position for myself, but they happened to have seen our CVs and visual cover letter (with another recruiter, I think) and they were impressed.  We ended up meeting the next day for an informal interview.  It was a great contact to say the list!

Anyway, the first day of interviews is slightly nerve-wracking.  While the interviews are happening in hotel rooms, more school presentations are going on.  Also, each interview requires a fair bit of research.  It is a bit of a nightmare trying to fit everything in, as we were lucky enough to have lined up 5 interviews on the Saturday and two on Sunday with great schools.  All of the interviews were pretty informal, but all of the interviewers asked great questions.  On Sunday, we decided to cancel our two interviews because we had a couple of offers and one still pending.  By the end of the day on Sunday we finally got the offer we had been hoping for!

We are moving to Manila this summer to begin our adventure at the International School of Manila.  We have been researching this school for a while, so we were both ecstatic to be offered positions.  Amanda will be teaching Grade 3 and I will be teaching Grade 6 English and Social Studies.  We were both anxious going into the fair, but it was well worth it in the end.

Whoa.  It is late.  Time to go to sleep, so I can get up and watch the Ottawa Senators beat the Carolina Hurricanes.

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