Back in August (of 2017), Rex and I reopened our portfolio with one of the top international teacher recruitment sites: Search Associates. We started off just wanting to see what jobs would come available before we had to give our binding intentions in December, but ended up going all in and resigning from our current positions when the time came. Ever since we got all the reference forms filled out, updated our profiles, and re-submitted our CVs, the knowledge that something big was to come has been lingering on the edge of my subconscious. After 5 months of this, you're just ready to be done.
That said, until mid to late January there was very little out there for us. We are way more specialized than most teaching couples, with me in biology and Rex in technology, so not only do positions need to be posted for both of us at the same school, but that school needs to be in a location where we'd like to live while also providing decent salary and benefits. Thus, there were very few schools to actually send applications to. For awhile we even started sending them to schools that had only a job for me, knowing that often there is a need for someone to join the technology team but schools sometimes look for those teachers internally.
Pictured above: A screen capture from my job search portal
Suddenly, as the job fair in London came to a close, we started getting emails of interest to set up Skype interviews. One day we had three all at once. An early match with a school in the Cayman Islands (yes, imagine that?) ended up on the back burner as we spoke with schools in the Netherlands, Shanghai, Qatar, Rome, and Lebanon. There were two weeks where almost every free moment of our day was involved in speaking with someone... first interview together (or separate), second interview with heads of departments (or school directors), sometimes even third interviews. The emotions were running at peak levels and personally I felt like I could hardly bring myself into the present with anything I was doing. Finally, clarity started to come in waves. A school that was top of our list dropped off the radar when we got negative vibes from a department head. Another school that had all but offered us contracts emailed us that their director had gone to a job fair and hired someone to fill their science vacancy. We swore up and down that we weren't applying to anywhere in China this time around, but one of the top schools in Shanghai sought us out so we spoke with them and ended up with contracts. Really it was all such a whirlwind.
The game changer came after a school I'd targeted early in January, American Community School Beirut, finally got back to us to set up interviews. From that point on, they were moving fast. Rex's first interview with the elementary principal to our second with the director took place within a span of 3 days and on Friday morning we woke up with an offer in our inbox! So it came down to an amazing school in Shanghai versus a really good school in the magical city of Beirut. There was so much to consider. Deliberations were made over a meal of kebabs, buttery pilaf, and fresh dolma, which may have tipped the scale more in one direction. In the end, adventure won out to comfort and we're off to Beirut in August!
Right now we're living on a high with all the potentials that our new move will bring! What a beautiful and fascinating part of the world to live in; a true junction of east meets west, right on the shores of the Mediterranean. If for some reason you've never eaten Lebanese food, you must try it!
We learned so, so much on the job quest this time around. We learned that timing is everything, but the most difficult (and most important) goal is to get your CVs into the inbox of an administrator. HR is the worst about not passing along the applications of good candidates. So finding the director's email (or the email formula the school uses), CCing all the principals... it matters, and it works. Someone described the international school job hunt as cutthroat, and after this time through I believe it. Additionally checking with our friends who've been in the circuit for awhile to see whether they know someone at a particular school of interest became invaluable. In fact, it was a colleague's connection that got us our initial interviews in Beirut.
Don't know much about Lebanon? Here's a beautiful video showing drone footage of the country we will soon call our 4th home. It starts slow, but keep watching.