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International Teacher Recruitment:
What Lies Ahead?

A personal view by Paul Walsh

It is just after nine p.m. and after traveling for almost twenty-four hours, you have finally arrived. The one thing that stands out most as you are transported from the airport with thirty other recruits is the distinctive smell of oil in the air. You gather your bags as they are unloaded onto the Middle Eastern sands and make your way across a small piece of desert to a sterile looking administration block where an anxious administrator stands, nervously smiling as he mentally counts the heads as they walk through the door. As he peruses his new stock, he wonders whether he has made the right choices ... you wonder the same!

International teacher recruitment is not only an integral part of a successful international school, it is also big business. With the type of money that is involved in recruiting, and maintaining, the right person for the right position, the role of the recruiter remains critical. Likewise, the obligation on the prospective employees to ‘do their homework’, ask the right questions and fully absorb and assess an overload of information is also of the utmost importance. An inappropriate appointment from a school’s point of view can be an educational and financial nightmare. Teachers too sacrifice plenty to take up an overseas appointment and the consequences of an ill-informed or incorrect decision can be just as disastrous.

If we acknowledge that successful recruiting is an integral part of a successful international school, then we might well ask what direction recruiting will take in the early years of this twenty-first century. Up until now, recruitment fairs run by various agencies have been the most accepted form of recruitment. In a recent survey conducted as part of a research paper, the question regarding the effectiveness of recruiting fairs received a mixed reaction. The evaluation of recruiting fairs seems to be purely in the 'eye of the beholder.' For some, it is simply a confusing 'cattle show' that is an evil necessity, but one that would be avoided, if it was at all possible. Many candidates believe that they are unable to present themselves in the best possible way, due to the intensity of the sessions, the number of interviews that they may need to attend and the impersonal feel of the days. Those administrators and candidates who are successful in their pursuits are generally more complimentary of the process. Overall, the general consensus seems to be that they are time efficient, cost efficient and as one administrator noted, "The cream will generally rise to the top!"

Information and Communications Technology has had an enormous impact in our lives over the past five years and that pattern seems destined to continue well into the future. In education, the implications in the area of curriculum especially, have been most significant. Another area where ICT has been prominent in schools has been in the marketing department, where most of the reputable, forward thinking institutions have pages on the world wide web that cover every aspect of the school’s life, including employment opportunities. Likewise there are a number of sites that post, and update, current vacancies within schools around the world. Now, a prospective applicant can log onto a homepage and obtain a plethora of information from a school’s mission statement to its preferred sporting electives. There are photos to look at, statements to read and information to absorb. Already, applicants are miles ahead of their 1990 counterparts.

ICT has also made the process of physically applying for a position that much easier. It is now possible for a person to email any number of applications per hour to all points of the globe. The application would include a standard curriculum vitae document and an adjusted covering letter that shows a high degree of knowledge of the school and its educational philosophies, based on information gained via the school’s web page. Because of this, applicants are more likely to become less discerning, as the process becomes easier. No photocopying, no binding, no premium postage costs for guaranteed delivery, everything is completed quickly and efficiently with the touch of a keyboard.

The implications of this scenario for administrators are simple. In years to come, it will be a brave recruiter who posts an advertisement containing an email address, asking for expressions of interest to be sent directly to the school. Schools will be flooded with applications, all of which will require some form of perusal, and reply. Administrators will possibly turn to agencies once more; this time to narrow the field based on set criteria, and then submits a final short list for consideration and direct school-based action.

Based on further survey results, it seemed conclusive that, from the administrator’s point of view, a face-to-face meeting with a school’s representative was still the most preferred means of choosing suitable candidates. Video links and video support material with written applications still carry little weight and are not likely to play a major role in the near future.

Innovations will evolve and practices will change thanks largely to the influence of ICT. However one aspect of international teaching that, I believe will not be affected by ICT revolves around the qualities that are needed to function as an efficient, effective international educator. No matter what direction information technology may take us within the selection process, we still need to recruit MAGNIFICENT teachers………

Global Thinkers
Nurturing and sensitive to the needs of children
In tune with the traditions and customs of the host nation
Fervid in their desire to achieve as professional educators
Current Educational Thinkers
Non partisan towards political and religious beliefs
Team players

It could also be expected that those MAGNIFICENT international educators who are prepared to take their expertise, experience and talents to any given school, are entitled to have expectations of the institution that will support them in their job. As a starting point, MAGNIFICENT international educators should expect to be working in a school that CARES...


The metamorphosis that will occur in the area of international education recruiting over the next five years are likely to be enormous. Two aspects that will remain constant will be the importance of the decisions made by the various recruiting officers and the qualities that go with recruiting the right MAGNIFICENT international educators into a school that CARES.

Paul Walsh is an international educator, who has taught in the Middle East, The U.K., Indonesia, Brunei and Australia. His initial teacher qualifications were gained through The University of Melbourne and La Trobe University, in Australia. In 2000, he completed his MA in Education through the University of Bath, where his dissertation was an empirical investigation into international teacher recruitment. Paul is currently working in Brunei for CfBT.



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