What is an international school recruiter looking for in your application?

man at laptop filling out an application online

Are you wanting to take your teaching skills to faraway lands and apply for international school teaching jobs? 

As we see travel restrictions slowly starting to ease around the world, many schools are looking to fill their teaching positions.

Likewise, many people are looking to teach English abroad and travel after being confined to their home countries for the past year. 

It will require some planning and paperwork, but if you want to learn how to apply for international school jobs, you’ve come to the right place.  

Let’s first begin by taking a look at the difference between what an international school teaching job is and what it means to teach English as a second language. 

What is an international school teaching job?

Put simply, international schools use an international curriculum (like the International Baccalaureate) or a national curriculum from countries like the United States/Canada/UK/Australia/New Zealand, and other English-speaking countries.

Lots of people confuse international school teaching with teaching English abroad. 

If you are not a backpacker in your 20s wanting to live off of low pay then you might be looking for an international teaching position. 

These are very different types of positions for the following reasons:

1. Education Requirements

Most international school teachers need to have actual teaching licenses in their home country and at least a Bachelor’s degree. A Bachelor’s degree will allow you to apply for higher-paying teaching jobs. 

Schools hiring English teachers are not always as strict with your completed level of education. Most will accept a TEFL or TESOL certificate as long as you are a fluent English speaker.

2. Curriculum

International school teachers are teaching a school-based curriculum to students who want to study in an international school. 

For example, you might be teaching the Grade 3 Common Core curriculum at the American school in Kuala Lumpur.  Or you might be teaching 10th-grade high school history at the British School in Beijing.

3. Pay & Benefits

International school teachers are usually paid a higher salary than teachers who are teaching English in foreign countries. They also have rewarding benefits like health care, flights, and accommodation paid for.

Teaching in an international school means that you are usually teaching a curriculum to expat students who are living overseas due to their parents' job relocations. 

Or you might have students who are from the host country who want to study in an international school.

Both jobs are rewarding and allow someone to travel the world while teaching but it’s important to understand the differences.

How do you apply for International school teaching jobs?

If you are wanting to set sail and put your teaching credentials to work in a foreign country, there are several ways you can get started.

Even amidst the global pandemic where international teaching recruitment is changing, there are still ways to nail that perfect job without having to fly around the world for interviews.

One way is by using job boards where you can search and filter for the international teaching job that fits what you are looking for. 

Another approach you can take is to register and attend an international school job fair. 

You might be wondering, how this is happening during a global pandemic? You’re right, the format is a bit different right now!  

Do not fear because the internet is powerful and many have turned to the online world, allowing potential international school teachers to connect with international schools around the globe.

Call it a virtual job fair like the one put on by Search Associates or other organizations that, under normal circumstances, have regional in-person recruitment fairs. These fairs are still a great opportunity to find and connect with a position that suits you.

As the world begins to open up, and positions become available, let’s look at the top 5 things international school recruiters are looking for on applications.

1. International Mindedness

When you are teaching in an international school, you will be teaching students from diverse backgrounds. That is why it is important that you bring an international perspective to your application and interview. 

Understanding diversity and being open to and accepting of different cultures is going to help you stand out on your application and impress your potential employer.

So, what does this mean on your job application?

When you are writing your cover letter, listing your resume experiences, and having your interviews, make sure that you highlight all the cross-cultural experiences you have had. Also, how have these experiences shaped you to become more internationally-minded?

List these and discuss this in your interview. 

Try to bring your cultural experiences into your discussions with a potential employer.

2. Whole-school involvement

International school teachers are involved in the whole life of the school. 

It is a very different experience compared to schools and districts where unions tend to govern how many extra-curricular activities you are required to do or how many hours you are expected to be at your school.

An international school can be all-encompassing and you might be asked as an elementary teacher to help chaperone a high school sporting trip or work longer hours one evening to help out with the music concert. 

These are just the roles and responsibilities that come with the job. Teachers in international schools are typically more involved in all aspects of school life.

Generally, you will live near the school, socialize with teachers outside of school, and your children will be involved in school activities where you work all the time! 

This might seem demanding at the outset but it’s an incredible opportunity that many teachers don’t get to have in their home countries. Embrace it and enjoy it!

Be sure to highlight your desire and excitement to be a team player and be involved in all aspects of the school’s community.

Involve yourself as much as you can, but of course, your mental and physical health is crucial, so make sure to take care of yourself in the process. 

3. Technology and online learning skills

International schools simply have more money than the public schools you might have experience working in.

They charge higher tuition fees for their students and, as a result, have more funds to pour back into the growth of the school.

It is not uncommon in many international schools to see students with multiple devices and fully equipped classrooms with more technology than they know what to do with.

Lots of international schools also have technology integration specialists that help support the staff and teachers.

In fact, teachers are required to utilize technology and be familiar with integrating online learning into the classroom. 

With many schools having gone into virtual learning and hybrid learning models, these skills will be really important to highlight on your application and in your hiring process.

4. Ongoing professional learning

This is one area that recruiters and most school administrators are going to be looking for regardless of what type of teaching you are applying to.

However, this is even more needed with international school teaching because international schools are evolving and changing to keep up with current trends.

But with the lack of in-person events, international school teachers need to be resourceful and find ways to professionally grow online. You must be open to online learning opportunities.

Show your recruiter or hiring team how you can grow as a professional and make sure you list all the opportunities you have already had to further your knowledge (think about certifications, workshops, professional opportunities, seminars, etc). 

5. Ability to teach English as a second language

You will typically be teaching expatriate children who are living in the host country but you might also be teaching international students whose first language is not English.

This is happening more often than not because families are wanting to give their children an international education.

Since international school curriculum can be demanding for second language learners, teachers must be equipped to support and help these students.

Recruiters, administrators, and international school hiring committees are looking for applications that show some experience working with students who are learning English. 

This can include different types of experiences such as:

  1. Teaching English to refugee children
  2. Experience with ESL students in your classroom
  3. Volunteering overseas with second language learners
  4. Teaching online with one of these online ESL companies

Don’t worry if you don’t have these exact experiences. It is easy to get a TESOL or TEFL certificate to show that you are willing to learn and apply these skills in your classroom.

Not quite ready yet to move overseas?

If you are hesitant about the idea of packing up your life and moving overseas during these unpredictable times, then you might like the idea of online teaching.

Online teaching allows teachers all over the world to do what they love from the comfort of their own homes and earn a good income while doing it.

Think about waking up in your pajamas and walking over to your computer, turning it on, and teaching English to children around the world while getting paid!

Yes, this is a thing. No, it isn’t a scam!

Tip: We do recommend wearing more professional attire while teaching your online class. It will make you feel more confident and leaves a good impression on your students. 

Online teaching can also be a great side hustle for you if you are needing some income right away and would like to test the waters.

Apply here to some online teaching jobs and get started while you work out how and where to teach in an international school overseas.