Today the idea of a careers fair in a large conference hall with sharp-elbowed job hunters feels like a thing of the past. Something from a time before face masks and social distancing were all we spoke about.
Fortunately, like with many things over the past 12 months, technology has been able to swoop in and save the day, allowing international movers and shakers to instead attend virtual online events.
The aim of these events is for you to come away with a better idea of where you might end up teaching, to answer any questions you might have and, hopefully, for you to end up with a job offer or two.
Virtual teacher jobs fairs
But how do you get the best of these events when you’re behind a screen? We asked the experts to share their tips.
1. Here is one you prepared earlier…
You’ll be talking to lots of different people and juggling several balls of information as you move from one chat to another. Andrew Lynch, from Teaching Abroad Direct, says the solution to this is to have your answers up your sleeve.
“Teachers I have worked with previously find it useful to have a CV printed off, or on another screen, so when they are chatting to recruiters they have their top details to hand,” he says.
“It makes you look prepared, knowledgeable and professional – all things people are looking for."
2. Research the schools
You’ll be able to see a list of schools who will be at the virtual fair beforehand, so take a look and do some preliminary research, says Raymond Williams, head of school at the Colegio Anglo School in Colombia.
“I believe it is essential for candidates to research the schools they are interested in,” he says. “It really resonates with employers when they hear statements like ‘I saw on your website...’, ‘I spoke to someone who worked at your school and he/she said...’”
3. Speak up in the Q&A sessions
As part of the online fair, you’ll probably be asked to submit questions for panel discussions, or to take part in Q&A sessions. Daniel Cole, chief education officer at schools chain Educate, says this is a great opportunity that you can’t let pass you by.
“Don’t be afraid to send in your questions,” he says. “You should remember that other attendees are likely to have similar queries, and even if they haven’t thought to ask that question yet, there will be people watching who will be interested in the replies.”
4. The best person to be is you
It’s an easy trap to fall into: overstating your skills on your CV to try and impress. But Lynch warns teachers to resist the temptation to bend the truth, whilst also remembering to sell themselves in the best possible light.
“Ensure your job fair profile is a reflection of your skills,” Lynch says. “It's a quick win to talk up your experience, career history and what opportunities you are looking for. Those that put limited effort into their event profile will look lazy to recruiters very quickly.”
5. You’ve started...so best to finish
It’s a strange feeling moving from in-person events to online fairs. You can understand why: without the normal buzzing atmosphere you get at a fair, people might feel like ducking out early from a session. But don’t, says Cole.
“Try to stay online from start to finish,” he says. “Even if your question has been answered, there may well be other questions in the webinar that you hadn’t considered.”
6. Check the tech
Before the event begins, make sure your technology set-up is in working order, says Lynch. Leaving it too late will be a massive mistake.
“A quick video call with someone before the event can show you if your microphone and camera are working, and what is showing in the background,” says Lynch. “And don’t forget that if you’re using Zoom or software that you use to chat with friends, double-check your display name is work-appropriate if you had previously changed it for fun.”
Grainne Hallahan is Tes' recruitment editor