News: Making it Happen at the Melbourne Fair - Feb 22, 2014
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Saturday, February 22, 2014General News

Making it Happen at the Melbourne Fair

After being overseas for 13 years, Nick and Paula Kendell are helping fellow teachers realize their dream of working in international schools around the globe. For the past 23 years, hundreds of eager candidates have attended the yearly Search Associates Australasian International Job Fairs, where they are put in touch with Directors and heads of schools from a variety of exotic locations.

The demand for overseas positions is high, and before candidates land a position they need to have become an active candidate with Search Associates, and to have done their homework on the Search database. Here you can find out about benefits and the pre-requisites international schools require. Nick offers the following advice:

"The more research and knowledge you gain about this process, the greater your chance of utilizing your time efficiently and finding the right school for you. Each year we run seminars throughout Australia and New Zealand and have the opportunity to meet in person with teachers. These are a great opportunity to find out how the overseas circuit works."

Next year's Australian Fair will take place on 3-6th January, and candidates should be prepared for a fast-paced few days of seminars, presentations and interviews with potential employers.

Arj and Kate Bartholomeusz, teachers from Melbourne, Australia, were determined to give their children the gift of an international experience. They describe their experience of the Melbourne fair in their blog, after receiving 3 serious offers to consider:

"… it felt like cramming 6 months worth of emotions into 3 days. Literally having to get our heads around the possibilities of living in approximately 20 different countries and how each would impact on our kids, then finding out where the goalposts truly sat and finally investing enough of ourselves emotionally to potentially commit to 3 different cities."

Arj, once an international student himself, became intrigued by teaching overseas after chatting with an American he met during a professional development course. Arj explained,

"He was teaching in Singapore and literally implored me to take my family overseas. He spoke about 'cattle calls' (i.e. job fairs) which took place all over the world, where hundreds of teachers take their chances in a speed dating scenario to try to land a job."

Over the four days of the Fair, candidates hear talks from a number of school leaders and other experts in various fields who will help them land the job they want, or prepare them for what lies ahead. From senior administration staff providing an overview of what it's like to work and live internationally, to advice about tax investments and how to impress in interviews, candidates can be assured they'll be equipped to make a fully informed decision.

After the information presentations, the sign-up session begins, where candidates request to interview with recruiters. This is where the "speed dating" part comes in as teachers have to "sell themselves" in around 5 minutes in order to score an interview later. For Arj and Kate, they decided to tackle the lines separately so they could make as many interview times as possible. The lines could be as many as five to 50 people deep to speak with a recruiter. Because one of their preferred schools had a queue of about 50 people, they chose to skip it altogether to speak to other, more available, recruiters.

Arj and Kate attended their interviews over the next day and a half, often skipping meals and breaks. By Day 3, they had attended 12 live interviews, 2 Skype sessions, 2 follow up interviews to review contracts, and a cocktail reception for all recruiters and candidates.

Both Search Associates and the Bartholomeusz 's repeatedly describe the kindly attitude of the recruiters, especially during interviews which can be stressful for some teachers, especially those who have not had to interview for a while. Recruiters took the extra time to put candidates at ease, sometimes meeting them to finish an interview over breakfast. One recruiter mentioned to Nick that he was going to meet the parents of a preferred candidate to have a drink with them, and tell them about the school, and to answer any questions they might have.

Recruiters often took the time to meet with candidates to chat and offer advice even though they didn't have openings. When recruiters meet a star candidate, they often follow that candidate's progress over the years, hoping to finally make a match for them at their school. Arj captures the chemistry between candidate and recruiter in his blog:

"The most compelling part of each presentation was the feel we got from the presenter… the sense of humanity conveyed by the director, or principal, or deputy head from each school. And I guess each of us candidates felt that there were 'kindred spirits' with whom we would like to work… They were all impressive… some intimidating and ultra professional, some you wanted to go to the pub with and some who reminded you of a close friend or relative."

Another recruiter at sign-ups was so welcoming that a candidate accepted an offer at a school in a part of the world she had not even considered. The candidate had only approached his table at sign-ups because there was no line!

Nick and his team are there, every step of the way to advise and offer counsel, as often life-changing decisions are made. Nick said,

"I see my role as that of a filter— helping teachers to identify what's important to them and to narrow down their options. I love seeing their excitement when a decision has been made and they say 'yes' to an offer from an international school— it is a really rewarding few days."

While it is natural for candidates to feel apprehensive about the busy pace of a job fair and the unknowns of working overseas, Search Associates teams like Nick and Paula Kendell give great support. Their friendly approach ensures people feel welcome and relaxed throughout the event, and their teenage assistants add a family feel to the fair. They also aim to help people establish connections that will help launch them into their next life adventure. A Melbourne Search candidate remarked,

"The work and organization that has gone into this fair is amazing. Everything ran so smoothly and people were so friendly and helpful. It has been a terrific experience - enlightening, exhausting and exciting. It was a real education!"

If you would like to find out more about the 2015 Melbourne Fair, and how you can meet face to face with international school representatives in Australia, please email Nick at

Did You Know…?

Search Associates is a family-owned business founded by John Magagna, former international educator. After working with her father for ten years, daughter Jessica Magagna is now CEO.