As an international educator, there is one phrase more than all others that invokes fear. “Recruiting!”
Those of us who have run the gamut a few times remember with fondness the excitement of the first job fair. The thrill of donning a suit and tie, tucking your CV’s under your arm and lining up at tables advertising Argentina or Israel or Laos or Japan. We remember that excitement. Vaguely.
By the time you hit job fair number three, that excitement has turned to something else. Like having a toothache and knowing there is an inevitable dentist visit on the horizon. Drill. Suction. Spit.
It almost becomes a second job during the months of August, September, October and November. Updating the CV, writing the philosophy statement, getting a decent looking photo, writing the cover letter. Then there’s the job listings. Getting up every morning to check the job openings. Yelling back to your spouse, “How about Ethiopia?” or “What about Kuwait?” or “Where the hell is Bokchovia?”
When the decision to give Bokchovia a shot is made, then comes the research and the application. Find the website. Read the mission statement. What curriculum do they run? How big is it? WHERE is it? How cold does it get? What is the governance structure? Is that really the uniform!!!!
Then comes the cover letter. What is the focus…??? Mission statement? Strategic plan? Me? The fact that I speak Bokchovian? Maybe the fact that I love Bokchovian beer???
It is HARD work. Time consuming work. Done BEFORE and AFTER work. And in the quest to be employed in 10 months time, it is done again and again and again and again and again. To Bokchovia, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, North Korea (I’ll go anywhere!), the Southern Hemisphere (almost every school in it!!!!).
And then… you wait.
And you wait.
And you w a i t.
And you w a i t
And you w a i t.
andifyouareluckyyougetaresponse. From one school.
One. Single. School.
Bokchovia sends an automated response, “Thank you for your application.”
Immediately, because you haven’t heard from any other schools (and you’ve begun discussing a “sabbatical year” with your spouse), you start imagining yourself in Bokchovia. Speaking Bokchovian. Drinking Bokchovian beer. You head back to the school website and start imagining yourself in the classrooms and the lunch room. You search YouTube for anything from Bokchovia. You find “Bokchovia’s Got Talent 2014” and spend 23 minutes and 15 seconds (that you will NEVER get back) learning that this is the place for you. Over lunch with your colleagues (the ones you will be leaving) you mention you might be going to Bokchovia. They nod, eyebrows raised. They’ve never heard of it.
And then, as a few more responses come in your colleagues retreat to eat somewhere else because they are tired of hearing where you might go. You become the world expert on which countries have talent and which don’t.
Eventually, if the planets align, the automated response is followed by a request for a Skype interview, which leads to a second Skype interview, then a face-to-face meeting at a job fair and then an offer and a contract. You check the country is still financially sound and politically stable, and sign. Done.
But what about all those schools you applied to and never heard diddly-squat from?
They should have their accreditation revoked, their Superintendent/Headmaster/Director removed and fined a bazillion Bokchovian gringotts!
That’s right! Revoked. Removed. A BAZILLION!!!!
I mean, how hard is it?
How hard is it to automatically send a message to each applicant to say thank you.
Thank you… for taking the time to consider our school and reading through our website. For carefully writing a letter telling us how much you are interested in working for us and for sharing how you think you would be able to help the school grow and develop. Thank you for sharing with us everything there is to know about your professional life and thank you for putting it all in a single PDF file not exceeding 450MB!
With the FREE technology available today, that, “Thank You for considering Bokchovia International School” email is possible to do AUTOMATICALLY! And again, just to press the point, for FREE!
And yet… in my recent experience, less than 25% of all the schools I applied to replied. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Silence. Is there anybody out there?
If you are an administrator at an international school, please realise that the reputation of your school is built on shifting sand. It takes a lot of effort to make it steady and next to nothing to see it come crashing down. Take the time to set up a system that recognises each applicant for their efforts in applying to your school. It is not difficult. It is not expensive. It is a cheap investment.
At the end of my fourth recruiting journey I have been impressed by the schools that responded. Most were automated responses. Some gave the impression of being a real person. One was really real and thanked me for thanking them for the thank you.
I was not impressed by the schools from which I received no response!
Schools are all about communication, and recruiting is the first taste of what’s to come.
How hard is it? Really.