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International School Recruitment Season is Here!

Reflect on Your Values First!

Many teachers and administrators about to embark on the annual recruitment season in various cities in the world, albeit ‘online’ this year. It is understandable this is met by both recruiters and candidates with some anxiety, at the same time as excitement and energy. Our thoughts scream out to us with lots of self-talk as to ‘where we might end up’; ‘Lets nail that location’… or ‘Lets nail that job’.

Given the year we have had, ask yourself, “is this the year I want to move- really? If so why do I want to move now? I propose these important questions for you to reflect on and think about before signing up for the next ‘recruitment fair’.

International Schools recruitment is a different art this year, requiring different skills to get that interview. Embrace it differently! Speaking with both recruiters and candidates that have been involved in some of the ‘virtual fairs’ already, it’s not unusual to hear some curious concerns and observations. Candidates frustrations with recruiters not getting back on their direct messaging during the fair has been a big issue I noticed after I spoke to many candidates.

As a result, I’ve suggested to candidates to re-group, think of your ‘why’? (as per a great Quote by Simon Sinek). What is it about the post that interests you? And more importantly why you would be a ‘great catch’ for the post? I suggest you ask yourself’ “Does the post align with your values?” Why do you want the post.

Most of the time the response includes: “this place is awesome, “a great school”, “many beaches” or “it will give us a fantastic lifestyle”, “It will be great for my CV”. Or for aspiring leaders their goal often is to tell themselves “I’ve made it”, “I’ve got that leadership post, the name-plate, …the ‘shiny trophy”. In my conversations with them I ask “does this post resonate with your values?” Do you know what you value in a post and how is this ‘new job’ reflective of your values. Do you know your values? Values? – yes your values in teaching, in the ideal position and what do you look for personally to make a home in your new school, new community, new position.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions like: ‘’How much of my time will be spent in meetings?” or “Is the school undergoing an accreditation process?” “How much documentation can I expect to be doing?” The resulting conversation around this question means a lot to you- you value it, in what you are looking for in a new post. These questions can help you see what you value in a position for your fulfilment and happiness. Another example maybe that for you to embrace a position there needs to be, for you, a certain degree of autonomy. It is important that you’re comfortable in what you’re doing and you don’t get overshadowed by the location or the package, as attractive as that can be, but what are you doing in your role. Will it reflect your values?

I was recently coaching a colleague about his leadership aspirations. He is a passionate, incredible teacher and leader. He had achieved the leadership role but he had sacrificed family quality time. He was also studying multiple Masters degrees in School Leadership, and worked his way through various Middle Management and Assistant Principal positions across the world of international schools with admirable references. After some years he contacted me again as he wasn’t happy asking me for help. Again, we looked at the WHY and his values.

What we determined together was that he valued and enjoyed working with all ages of students across the whole school. He was unhappy as he hadn’t embraced the fact that as a Divisional Principal. The nature of the role did not enable him to have all the time he wanted, to do even though he now had a shiny trophy, title.

Despite the significance it brought him, he was not happy or content with himself in the role. From our working together again this passionate teacher/leader, ‘took the risk’. The difference was this time he was not searching for location, the shiny trophy, or just the awesome package or beach lifestyle for example. He was confident in his own skin to know, what kind of post he wanted, reflective of his values. Please get the ‘Why’ clear first.

Live a rich life in International Schools, but get clear on what you value. When You determine the why, they how will elegantly appear.

Good luck everybody with your search.


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