Saturday, December 18, 2010

Things useful to have in a job search

Since I've been looking for a job recently for 2011-2012, I thought I'd throw out there what I think is useful to have in a job search, at least if you are looking for job through cold email contacts. Some of this might be super common sense.

1. A nice cover letter with a photo. Everyone likes photos, and a compact, nicely written cover letter can immediately set you up as a purposeful applicant.

2. A CV instead of a resume. Why? To me, a CV is more comprehensive. My CV starts off with a one-paragraph summary of myself, to be followed up by my list of experiences and academic achievements underneath. Now that I am on my third job, I think a one-page resume isn't really sufficient to highlight my accomplishments, once you take away the space for my name and contact info. Besides, if a school can't even take the time to look through the second page of an already condensed CV, they're not likely going to make a great employer, right?

3. Open reference letters (with contact details). Nothing replaces confidential references, but open letters are nice to have, because if a school is not sure whether you are a viable candidate, these could tip the scale without them having to jump through the hoops of contacting each reference. Open letters are also nice to have because you get to keep and re-use them for later. So, if you get a couple of letters from each school you've worked at, you could easily have a bunch of letters on file after a while. Your reference letters should include some supervisor letters, obviously, but you may also include those of former professors, co-planning colleagues, and student parents. My portfolio contains all of the above, because they each highlight a very different strength.

4. A website. Mine is very simple (sorry, no links here because I don't want to mess up the stats I am tracking), but I think it's pretty straight-forward and effective. You link to your CV, provide an email link, provide a summary of yourself, a picture, and a list of "testimonials." It sounds mad cheesy, but it works. The point of a website is so that when you send unsolicited emails, the school heads aren't annoyed when you send unsolicited attachments as well. And the testimonials, as cheesy as they are, are supposed to make you sound more attractive at first glance.

Anyway, I've contacted a good number of schools, just sort of on a first-round basis. I've heard back from some of them, but few definitely-interested ones at this point. I'm not worried; I am going to that fair in London in January and I'm sure things will sort themselves out at the fair. But, my goal before that is to contact ~50 schools. (It seems like a very obtainable number, considering that I have amazingly already contacted about 30 schools.) So, here we go! :)

By the way, recruitment fairs are totally the way to go, if you ever want to go for an international teaching job. It's quite a bit of a hassle to collect all of the necessary confidential references by ~November, but you get invaluable face time with each school, and those schools can follow up on your file before and after the fair (if you choose the right recruitment agency to go with). A lot of schools won't even consider cold-email candidates, since it saves them a lot of work to go through a recruitment agency.

For me, I do the international teaching thing because I love to travel. And I love new languages. It doesn't preclude me from the possibility of settling down in the States in the future and/or working at a public school again, although these days there is definitely less tying me down to the States...


  1. I wonder if the photo is only useful for international job searches? Technically, in the US, wouldn't it put an employer at risk for discrimination to use a photo during a job search?

  2. Not sure, but in the international schools field, it's definitely standard to include a photo.

    I know that if I were still a software engineer, it'd be silly to include a photo, but because I work in such an interpersonal field, a photo definitely helps to establish my physical presence on paper, in lieu of a personal interview.

    In any case, even if you didn't include a photo, the truth of the matter is that when you walk into an interview, everything about your physical presence/presentation will tip the scale either in your favor or against your favor. So, technically, to make sure that there is no physical discrimination whatsoever, wouldn't we all have to have veiled interviews?

    Anyway, all I'm trying to say is that discrimination is an inevitable part of any audition/job application process. Including elections!

  3. @Katy I used to work in staffing at a search engine and would hire internationally. Yeah, in the US you shouldn't include a picture or birth date for discrimination purposes. In Europe, at least, the pics are standard. I also seem to recall that they'd often include things like their religion as well, but that seemed to be country specific. In Asia I think they were still common but not 100%.

  4. @Jason it's so interesting how small things like photos on resumes are so different in different cultures! My friend was applying for an international teaching job and put a photo on her resume, too. When I asked her about it she said the same thing as both you and Mimi. I learned something new!

  5. These are the great tips.Thanks for sharing these supportive information with us.It is really a tuff job handle another career when you are in different field.but you have helped us a lot.

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