Recruitment Fairs have long been a way of finding a job in an international school. Clearly, it’s not practical to visit every school spread across the globe on the chance of an appointment, so the fairs held in main centres like London and Beijing offer a short-cut.  But like many short-cuts, they offer a bumpy ride and a good chance of getting lost or ending up where you didn’t really want to go. My experience of a Recruitment Fair in London was literally a long shot. I fancied a position in South America, and I was working in Mozambique at the time, but I was told the London fair was worth trying.

So, having paid my own fare from Mozambique, I checked in at the soulless three-star hotel where the fair was held – and found 500 teachers milling around nervously, all like me on a mission to get their ideal job. With a minimum of knowledge about potential schools, I hit the hallway. We had just two hours to grab as many interviews as we could. Go, go, go…

I ended up with 6 interviews, only three of which sounded seriously promising.  The next day I found my way to a tiny room – which turned out not only to be the interview room but also the principal’s own bedroom – a bizarre setting for the first one-to-one with your prospective head. The allocated half-hour was too short: neither party really had time to get enough information.

Some of the schools insisted on a second round of interviews the following day.  Was an International School in Baranquilla really the place I wanted to not only commit to a two year, contract but also live in?

By day four, I had cabin fever and felt I was going crazy.  The job fair did yield two jobs offers but the experience had put me off.  I had another offer (in London bizarrely) and took it.  Everybody at the Fair wanted an instant response, so I felt I had to decide there and then.  I had already spent over £1000, going away empty-handed seemed wrong.  Speaking to other teachers at the fair, many felt a similar way.

There had to be another way.

Recruitment fairs – the cost to both parties

Teacher cost School cost (based on recruiting a single teacher)
Fair registration = approx. £120

Return flights (from Mozambique) =  approx. £500

Accommodation = 4 x £80 per night = £320

Food and drinks = 4 x £40 per day = £160

School registration = approx. £1200

Fair registration = approx. £300

Return flights = approx. £500 x 2 = £1000

Accommodation = 4 x £80 x 2 = £640

Food and drinks = 4 x £40 x 2 = £320

Placement fee = approx. £1000

Total cost = £1100 (approx. $1700) Total cost = £4460 (approx. $7000)

If you have an experience of the fairs, what did you think?  What do you think are the best alternatives?

We’ll share what we think they are in next week’s blog post.

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