by Kelly Blackwell


Attending a teaching abroad job fair can be a nerve wracking experience, especially if you have not received any responses from the international school recruiters to your pre-fair approaches. Here's how it really works...

You will be surprised at the number of teaching job interviews you will be invited to attend at an international recruitment job fair. You may be worried because you have sent out your resume to all the recruiters on the job fair organizer's list of schools that have vacancies in your teaching area and yet you have received no responses, or only automated responses.

Trust me, this is not a problem!

You will probably find that when you arrive for the orientation session and check your mailbox that you have received a number of interview invitations from those very same recruiters that have not sent you a personal response to your initial attempts to make contact.

One colleague of mine said she received interview invitations from 26 schools at the last job fair she attended. Another reported that she'd spent hours sending out her resume to different international school recruiters and received a very disappointing response pre-job fair; however she also received an astounding number of interview requests at the job fair.

So, what does this mean to you? You will need to be prepared with a mechanism to quickly and easily turn down interview requests because the chances are you will be invited to interview with schools that you have no interest in teaching for.

One way to prepare for this contingency is to prepare 'thanks but no thanks' notes ahead of the job fair. You can then fill in the blanks on the refusal letter and either pass it on to the recruiters at the sign up session on the first morning of the fair, put it in the recruiter's mailbox, or slip it under the door of their hotel room.

When you are preparing your application packs to take with you to the teaching job fair you simply prepare and print some copies of your refusal letter and take them with you to the fair.

A major problem with this plan occurs if you have not prepared enough of the notes, as my colleague experienced when she received interview invitations from 26 schools, of which she was only interested in two! What do you do then? You will have to resort to hand-written notes.

Another option is to take along a pad of Post-It notes. Post-It notes can be stuck to hotel room doors or on to the recruiter's table at the sign-up session. A bonus to using this method is that your note will not be accidentally mixed in among other papers because it is both sticky and colourful.

Before you turn down interview requests you need to consider how much practice you have had recently with job interviews. Do you feel confident? Going to job interviews with schools you are not very interested in teaching for will give you an opportunity to practice rusty interview technique in preparation for the schools you really are interested in.

Additionally, through interviewing with these recruiters you may discover that an international school you were not very interested in is actually the perfect place for you to move to.

Kelly has been teaching abroad for 12 years now, and has refined her job fair strategies so that she always lands a high-paying, desirable teaching job abroad.