Monday, 27 January 2014

My Reflections on My Job Search Process

I entered into my 5th year at Korea International School knowing that it would be my last. By September my paperwork was done and I had officially become an “active” member on Search Associates. Many of us who have had quite a few years in international schools feel that by now we are marketable enough to be hired by a great school prior to the fair. I was definitely one of those. And some of us do get hired early, but the percentage is small. I registered for the January Bangkok Search fair but even up until two weeks prior, I was still hoping I'd get snatched up without having to go to the fair. But that was never to be. I did go to the fair with nervousness and excitement to see what opportunities presented themselves.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned from my experience. (I would like to preface this with the fact that this list reflects only my personal experience. Others may disagree as they may have had a completely different experience.)

1. I should not measure my value as an educator based on whether I was hired prior to the fair or not.
We make the mistake of thinking early hires are the “norm” and when we don’t get on the early hire boat, we doubt ourselves. The reality is, early hires are very competitive. Not only are you running against people who are definitely searching for jobs, but also against the people who are “soft searching” to see if they should consider the move or not. When schools get 80-100 applicants per position they post, their reasons for not looking at you closely could be “this person had a typo on their resume”. They have to make the cut off somewhere, right?

2. I should not believe that I am not going to find a job without IB experience.
I used to think this. And although many schools have turned down my interview requests because I wasn’t an IB teacher, I found that if you have other skills they are interested in, the schools will invest in training you to fit their IB program. So my advice now is to be innovative, try new things and be a risk taker and that takes you a lot further than having a piece of paper that says you’re IB qualified. The schools that matter will not care if you are an IB teacher or not.

3. Number of interviews I get at the fair is not directly proportional to how effective or marketable I am as a teacher.
The whole hiring process is about finding the right match with the right school. Like a jigsaw puzzle. So many different factors play into why a school might think you are a good match for them or not. I, myself had interviews with only two schools at the fair. They happened to be two of the top schools at the fair, but with my skills and experience, I believed I would have more schools interested in me. For whatever reason, the schools I’ve requested interview with, didn’t think I was a match. Actually, I didn’t feel that they were a match for me either but having only had two schools to interview with, I felt very nervous. Kept thinking I needed more. Felt like a senior in highschool who has only applied to two colleges with no backup plans. But more does not always equal better. I did get strong offers from both of the schools I interviewed with, which made me realise that numbers did not matter. Quality over quantity.

4. Attending a job fair is intense, stressful and emotional process, no matter how many times I had been before.
I was such an emotional wreck at the previous fair I went to 5 years ago, that I had vowed to never to do this again. Yes, I did hope that I would be hired before the fair but since that didn’t happen, there I was, at a job fair again. You’d think it would be easier the second time around, knowing what to expect, but it was not. I was still the same emotional wreck that I had been at the fair five years back. But the difference was, I didn’t know anyone at the fair when I went 5 years ago, except for my friend that I went to the fair with. I was coming from a small school so, none of my admin was there nor did I know anyone else from any other school. This time, there was a group of us from my school, our admin team and other recruiters and candidates from other school that I knew who played a huge support system which did make this process a lot easier than the previous one. But we are still faced with making choices for our future path in life which is never an easy decision.

Despite the difficulties and the emotional rollercoaster I went through from the fair, I have come away with an amazing and exciting new position at American School of Bombay. I had never considered moving to India but had I not gone to the fair, I would not have had such an opportunity. On top of that, I do feel that I made some really good professional connections with various educators and administrators which I look forward to fostering more in the future. Going through this speed dating that we call a job fair has been a valuable professional experience for me and would be willing to go through it all again, should I find myself in a job search mode again.

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