Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Do's & Don'ts of Teacher Career Fairs

I have been going to Teacher Career Fairs for 4 years and some common mistakes are made at every one. Likewise, some teachers make an incredible first impression & I'll remember them months later. I'm off to Vancouver tomorrow to attend the UBC Teacher Career Fair, and one of my teachers from last year, Krissy Redekop, has been attending the teacher jobs fairs in Ontario all month.

What NOT to do at a Teacher Career Fair

  1. Ask a recruiter "So, what's the weather like in ________?" Believe it or not, I get this question all the time. Ummm....right - what's the weather like in England? Just like Jamaica! HOT! Okay, I don't say that, but I want to. Don't ask a question that you a) should already know the answer to and b) can find out from a simple google search or guide book.
  2. Do not under any circumstances go up to a recruiter and then tell them all the reasons you wouldn't want to work in their country. "Teach in London? But it's soooo expensive there!" The recruiter then feels they have to convince you why their location is ideal, when really, you should be working at convincing them to hire you. If the recruiter is spending all their time trying to convince you to work for them (talking about how great the salary is, how easy the job is, what you'll get if you work for them, etc.) then you should be asking yourself why they need you so badly. There's a teacher job shortage in many parts of Canada and chances are you need them more than they need you.
  3. Don't dress as if you're still a student. You're on your way to being a professional. Dress like one.
  4. Don't give your resume or contact details to every recruiter at a job fair. We will contact you (particularly teacher recruitment agencies for England & Asia) so don't waste our time & yours if you're not really interested. There are some agencies that will call you every week, early in the morning to "check in". They hope that by calling you all the time they won't "lose" you to another agency. I'm not like this as I don't have the time, and know that my teachers contact me when they need me. I don't worry about "losing" teachers as I have a solid track record with teachers & rarely lose any to another agency. But most agencies aren't like this - so if you sign up to every one, well ... now you know what will happen.
  5. Don't get too nervous! Chances are you'll meet a bunch of recruiters & we won't remember you in a few months. That's the honest truth. So don't stress out too much & just be yourself (the professional, confident & capable teacher that you are).

What you SHOULD do at a Teacher Job Fair:
  1. Ask good questions. Yes, there are dumb questions, although I'd never say that to anyone's face. Just see #1 above. Equally, there are very good questions. Joe came up to me at the OISE fair (University of Toronto) in December and asked me about Ofsted reports for schools in London and whether I had any advice for him on how to read between the lines of these reports. I knew a few things about Joe with that first question - 1. Joe knows what he's talking about & wants to know more 2. Joe is smart enough to do his research & wants a good school to teach at and 3. Joe can speak with a principal or Head Teacher with inteligence and confidence. I offered to interview him the next day. Did he get the job? Of course. I'd love to see him teaching in London with Classroom Canada in the near future.
  2. Dress appropriately. To use Joe as an example again, he dressed like a teacher. We even joked about how he was the only one at OISE wearing a tie. Most students just wore jeans and t-shirts, didn't bring their resumes & just grabbed whatever freebies they could get. Who gets the interview? Joe of course.
  3. Bring your resume. After having a brief chat with a recruiter you can ask if they are accepting resumes. If they say yes, pull yours out (ideally not crumpled up in your backpack). You can include a photo in a resume to hand out at a career fair to help us remember you later.
  4. If you've done your research about a particular school board or recruitment agency, let them know. If you want to work for that particular person, tell them. We love to hear this! We also love to hear why you want to work with us. You don't have to be "salesy" - just be yourself. I can tell you that anyone who comes up to me and mentions this blog will have an interview in no time. Pretty simple right?
  5. Keep an open mind. You're there to check out your options, find out more information and hopefully make a great first impression that will lead to interviews for teaching jobs. Never forget that. Yes, your friends will be there. Yes, it can be a social time. But don't let your friends stop you from going to every table & meeting the people that make crucial decisions about your future.
Sign up for our newsletters to read more about teaching in London, England. Download a free chapter of the ebook, Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. If you like that chapter, buy the ebook! If you're not satisified, I'll give you your money back. I've never had to refund anyone yet so I'm confident I won't have to!

Have you been to a Career Fair lately? Have any advice to offer our readers? Please share your thoughts below.

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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