The answer to this question isn’t rocket science!  I have been a Head in both the UK and in the international schools sector, and have been recruiting staff for over thirty years.  When you make an international school job application, the recruiter will have the following questions in mind:

1 How does the candidate’s experience (in particular the most recent experience in their present position) match with the job for which they are applying?

What I always look at in a CV is the previous experience education background and what they are like as a person. This helps me assess whether a candidate will be up to the job, committed and conscientious. It is also important that they fit within the ethos of the school as relationships with colleagues are often more important when living abroad.

2 What are the candidate’s achievements in their career thus far?

It is essential that you can demonstrate that that you have the required experience.  I read their CV or profile page to assess their previous achievements, roles, type of school and how long they worked in each school.

3 What is the pattern of the candidate’s career thus far?

It’s great if a candidate has had a wide range of both person and professional experience. If they have worked in another sector, or range of types of schools I see that as a positive so long as they are trained and have necessary experience for the role. Management experience is equally attractive.

4 How does the candidate’s philosophy match with the school’s mission and modus operandi?

International school job applicationI always read personal statements carefully as they help me get a real sense of a teacher and how they would fit in. Everyone’s ideas and educational philosophies are different and I believe it’s important to have a wide range of ideas and beliefs in a school so long as they don’t contradict our school’s mission statement and way of operating. I always recommend teachers read our mission and sometimes ask them about it in interview.

5 How do the candidate’s personal qualities, interests and achievements suit the style of the school?

I love teachers who are passionate about something – be it travel, football, chess or making movies so I always read the ‘personal interests’ part of a CV or profile page. I am not a micro-manager so I look for self-motivated teachers who will take on projects of their own whether it be setting up a photography club or taking a group of pupils on a trip to Uganda. For these reasons I believe personal interests are equally important to professional qualifications.

6 How does the candidate ‘connect’ with the recruiter?

There’s the old saying that Heads hire teachers like themselves. Although this is often true, I have always strived to avoid this. Key to a successful staff team is a having a wide range of personalities as this ensures our pupils benefit from a range of teaching methods and styles.

  • 1-3 can initially be assessed from a thorough examination of the CV or profile
  • 4 can be assessed from the candidate’s personal statement and letter of application
  • 1-4 can be consolidated at interview
  • 5, 6 can be assessed at interview
  • 1-6 can be informed by the candidate’s references

It is important when preparing the application that a candidate takes this sequence on board.  When I receive a number of applications for a number of posts, the CV or profile is the first document to be examined.  If the CV or profile is of interest, the personal statement will be assessed.  Then, referees will be sought and a short-list will be made of candidates who will be called for interview.

So if you can imagine the process from the side of the recruiter, this is ideal.  The Head or Principal may receive over 50 applications for one job, and sometimes this figure is in the hundreds. Your CV has to be concise and to the point, concentrating on how items 1-3 are covered. Content, order and presentation are all very important. The CV has to be no more than 2 sides of A4. Providing additional information (such as the documents and video on your Teacher Horizons profile) will serve to help your application.

The personal statement/letter of application must be equally concise, no more than 1.5 sides.  It must address item 4 and must not be a regurgitation of information in the CV or profile. It must not be an essay. It must not try to cover every detail and explanation of your views.

Remember, the interview will cover the detail.

A crucial addition to this list when it comes to applying for an international school, a recruiter will assess:

How suited you will be to living and working in an environment, which may well be different from your experience to date? This will be covered at interview, but you must prepare for this from the moment an application is considered.

Check out Alexis’ article for more advice on writing your international school CV.
For researching locations, we love Expat Arrivals. Do your homework before you apply, to make sure you’re going to a place that’s suited to you.
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Written by John Regan
former International School Head and CEO of Teacher Horizons
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