Thursday, 13 June 2019

How to make your international school appeal to candidates

As the number of English-medium International schools increases around the world, the market to recruit the limited pool of native English-speaking teachers who want to work abroad has become highly competitive. International schools no longer can rely on simply placing an advertisement in Tes to attract an employable shortlist. It is a buyers’ market and schools need to sell themselves to candidates. This article looks at eight ways beyond salary and benefits packages where schools can stand out from the crowd. 
There is something attractive about experiencing exotic cultures and seeing new places, so it is not surprising that one of the major reasons why people look to teach abroad is that they want to travel and explore the world. However, alongside this Wanderlust, there is often an underlying concern that the price of the adventure is a damaged career which will remove the option to return home, should the desire or need arise. Schools need to recognise and harness these emotional drivers in a systematic way if they are to attract top international talent. 
  1. Sell your location: One of the unique features of International recruitment is that schools have to sell both the organisation and the city - clearly this is easier for some than others (Dubai v Chongqing). Schools need to paint a picture in the recruitment pack of what it is like to live in the particular region. This need not be an onerous task - local tourist guides can provide suitable copy. 
  2. Promote your training and development opportunities: A common question asked by teachers moving abroad is whether or not they will have similar training opportunities to those available in the UK. Millennial teachers are particularly interested in the opportunities for professional and personal development. Most international schools provide routine INSET, but schools can set themselves apart by providing access to portable formal qualifications and training that is recognised in the UK, such as NQT support and the NPQML or NPQH. 
  3. Establish the school brand within the region and around the world. Schools that have established reputations within a region or globally are likely to be more attractive to talented teachers. Effective ways of putting a school on the educational map include playing an active role in international schools’ organisations (such as HMC, COBIS and FOBISIA) and applying for (and winning!) international schools’ awards. 
  4. Maintain close links with the UK It is all too easy for an international school to sit comfortably and distance itself from the issues which are driving education in the UK. This is a huge mistake. It is important for international schools to remain part of the conversation. Schools should encourage contributions to contemporary debates about educational developments in the UK on social media, by writing articles and by speaking at conferences. 
  5. Promote what your staff are doing: Schools that provide opportunities for teachers to share what they are doing and to develop their professional reputation are hugely attractive to prospective candidates. For example, hosting a regional ‘Educational Summit’ can reap great benefits: talented staff have a platform to share their expertise; the school will be seen as a centre of excellence leading the debate; and it will be, in effect, a prospective staff Open Day by drawing in hundreds of teachers into the school. 
  6. Develop an International Presence on Social Media Some teachers are happy working in a silo – their classroom is their castle and they are comfortable there. However, increasingly there is a generation of teachers, who have grown up in a world of social media, who want to network with like-minded colleagues and share what they are doing professionally. An effective social media strategy is a cost-effective way of promoting the school both at home and around the world, at the same time as providing an important platform where teachers can connect and gain recognition from their peers. 
  7. Use your website: International school websites typically are designed to recruit pupils and to provide information to parents. Few schools consider their potential to be a shop window for recruiting staff – this is to miss a real opportunity. Consider developing a section of your website on ‘Working at Our School’ which includes sample videos of staff talking about what it is like to be part of the school community; and a blog which pulls together contributions to the regional and international educational debates. 
  8. Set up a LinkedIn School Past and Present Employees Group. Any school that can establish a professional network of influential and successful past and present employees will be attractive. Such a group would provide evidence of the sort of roles former employees went on to do and shows that the school is sort of institution that is genuinely interested in developing its staff even after they have moved on to their next challenge. 
The quality of teachers determines the quality of a school. One of the most important factors that distinguishes great international schools from their competitors is the ability to recruit and retain talent. International schools would be well advised to put as much effort into building their ‘Employer Brand’ for staff recruitment as they do marketing their ‘School Brand’ to attract students.

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