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  • Writer's pictureJ. Mallais

What School Leaders Look For When Hiring

Recently, I came across a 25-page document in the Subreddit R/internationalteachers (Check out my Job Search Tip #31 for more on that great resource) and agreed with what they came up with. The authors are an anonymous collective of 5 international school leaders with a combined 40 years of international school admin experience.

In case you want the Coles or Cliffs Notes on their advice, here's each section's summary :

  • Qualifications: If you don't have an education degree, or post-graduate studies with a recognized additional education top-up, or if your qualifications from your home country aren’t accepted internationally, you will need to find a way to expand what you possess into something that will be accepted. To be a competitive candidate at Good-to-Great schools, completed Master’s studies (or even progression towards imminent completion) will be highly regarded.

  • Certifications: Do what is necessary to ensure you are fully certified and any provisional status certification is completed. Do not let your teaching certification lapse. Try to add certification from one jurisdiction to another, for example: Australian teachers holding full teacher registration can apply for auto acceptance in the UK's Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) scheme.

  • Experience: Forget that two years' teaching experience is the minimum to apply overseas. Current expectations would be at least 3-5 years. The very best schools might want significantly more experience (5-10 years). This makes it hard for those applicants wanting to jump from domestic to international, or from average school to better. Also, beware of the ‘backpacker syndrome’: Good-to-Great schools will want to see longevity in service at schools, as opposed to the fulfillment of minimum contracts. An applicant with 8 years of experience sounds great, but if it looks like 8 years across 5 schools (2,1, 2, 2,1), then it isn't so great after all.

  • Results: This remains, without a doubt, the biggest mistake that applicants make with written applications. Results matter! Your cover letter, resume, and interviews provide you with opportunities to explain why you have been successful in your roles. Work hard in advance of applications to identify quantifiable results (in academic, pastoral, and procedural areas) that ‘leap off the page’. They've recommended the STAR method. (Check out my Job Search Tip #24 on how to do that)

  • Professional Development: Ensure that there is evidence of you raising your professional profile as an educator. An absence of PD within your application sends the wrong message to potential employers. (Check out my Job Search Tip #17 on the importance of PD)

  • Essential & Desired Qualities: They strongly recommend that you tailor your written applications to ‘hit’ the essential & desired qualities to stand out from other applicants, and be prepared to articulate how you demonstrate them within your day-to-day interactions with all school stakeholders.

  • Co-Curricular Activities: Make a conscious effort to consider what you offer as a ‘complete package’. These extras often make the difference when hiring panels consider applicants that are hard to distinguish between. (Check out my Job Search Tip #29 on CCAs)

They end with a run-down of the entire application process giving advice on Cover letters, CVs, Video responses, Interviews, and Follow-up. Here is a copy of the entire document, if you'd like to read it. There's a lot of great advice herein!

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