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Whenever I discuss recruitment strategies with new clients, no topic comes up more often than a school’s location. It seems like school heads in Latin America, as well as the rest of the world, seem to think that their recruitment challenges would go away if their school was located elsewhere.

In fact, according to the dozens of school leaders Teach Away surveyed for our recent International Education Recruitment Report, their biggest perceived challenge when it comes to competing for candidates with other schools is that candidates don’t find their school’s location desirable.

graphic international schools biggest recruitment challenges

While recruiters feel that they can address other sticking points, such as compensation or visibility of vacancies, being faced with the issue of an “undesirable” international school location can feel like an insurmountable recruitment challenge.

However, this is simply not the case. Wherever you may be located, you can and should be using your school’s location as an asset for recruiting and retaining great teachers.

While developing our 2020 International Education Recruitment Report, we also surveyed over 16,000 international educators to find out what they’re looking for in their next teaching job, including where they’d ideally like it to be.

What we found is that – even though large numbers of candidates are actively searching for teaching positions in well-known, popular locations – many candidates are also searching for vacancies in lesser-known places.

Our survey results show that the primary motivator for teachers to move abroad is to travel and experience a new culture. Therefore, highlighting the unique advantages of your location can be crucial to your recruitment success.

graphic why candidates want to teach abroad

Based on these insights, I’d like to share some tips on how to improve your school’s recruitment strategy by leveraging your location. I’ll start with an overview of my top five tips and then delve in deeper.

Don’t assume teaching candidates are solely interested in locations other than yours.

When it comes to recruiting the right teachers for your school, the issue is not that some locations are entirely undesirable to teachers.

Not all teaching candidates are interested in opportunities in a single region.

graphic regions where candidates want to teach abroad

As you can see, based on the teacher survey we conducted for our recruitment report, it’s obvious that there are clear preferences in terms of the regions teachers are most interested in.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that, while Europe, Asia and Latin America were selected as the three most desirable regions – and therefore may have an easier time attracting candidates with a larger potential applicant pool to draw from – there is genuine interest from candidates in all regions.

This means that wherever your international school is located, there are candidates actively searching for teaching roles in your region right now. The key to successful recruiting is ensuring that you’re connecting with the candidates who are interested in your particular location – not the ones who aren’t.

All you have to do is find them or help them find you. You can attract those candidates by making sure they can easily find out where your school is located and highlighting the desirable aspects of living there.

Not all teaching candidates are interested in opportunities in major world cities.

graphic settings where candidates want to teach abroad

Our survey also showed that there is a strong preference amongst teaching candidates for urban locations. However, while 49% of teachers hope to work in a bustling metropolis, 51% of teachers do not want to work in cities.

That means the majority of candidates are actively searching for roles in suburban and rural locations. So, if your international school location fits this profile, let teachers know. Your school’s location will be a huge benefit for teachers who are drawn to the calm and tranquility of the countryside or the happy medium of the suburbs.

Consider what makes candidates interested in your region.

Wherever your school is located, the information you provide about your school should inspire candidates. Emphasizing nearby travel destinations, the unique local culture and the impact teachers have on students in your region can all excite candidates about the prospect of teaching at your school.

However, candidates are drawn to working in particular regions for specific reasons. Understanding what it is about your school’s location that makes it desirable to candidates will help you capitalize on attracting candidates who are interested in your region.

If your school is based in one of the following regions, the following insights from our recruitment report survey will help you highlight the unique appeal of your specific location.

Latin America

graphic why candidates want to teach in Latin America

The chance to learn Spanish or Portuguese is one of the biggest draws for teachers searching for jobs in Latin America. So if your school offers an immersive environment or language lessons for teachers, be sure to let candidates know.


graphic why candidates want to teach in Asia

The comparatively low taxes and cost of living are of huge interest to candidates looking for teaching positions in Asia. So make sure to give teachers a clear idea of how far their teaching salaries can stretch and how much money they may be able to save while working at your school.


graphic why candidates want to teach in Africa

One of the main motivators driving educators to teach in Africa is making a difference in the lives of children in the region. So it’s worth highlighting how your teachers’ work positively impacts students’ lives.


graphic why candidates want to teach in Europe

Teaching positions in Europe appeal to candidates who want to access advancement opportunities not available elsewhere. So make sure to highlight any opportunities for career growth your school offers.

The Middle East

graphic why candidates want to teach in the Middle East

The generous benefits packages often provided by schools in the Middle East appeal to many teachers hoping to work in the region. So provide as many details as possible about the benefits your school provides as part of a total compensation package.

Key Takeaway

While there may be broad similarities between what motivates teachers to work in different regions, it’s clear that each continent has its own unique appeal. The key lies in drawing attention to the specific factors that attract teachers to apply for vacancies in your location.

Highlight the benefits of your school’s location.

Once you know how your school’s location can be an asset and you understand why, it’s time to make sure the global education community knows who and where you are.

Put yourself in a teacher’s shoes.

Since moving abroad is a huge life decision, most teachers want to be as informed as possible before they accept a job offer. They want to live somewhere that suits their lifestyle and aligns with their motivations.

That’s why they want to know all about the location of the school and what lifestyle they can expect to have when working there. This is especially true for candidates applying to work in lesser-known locations. As such, the more information you can provide about what their life might be like in and outside of the classroom when working at your school, the better.

Being able to find clear information online about a school’s location has a significant impact on whether or not teachers apply for and accept international education jobs. As such, information about your school’s location should appear prominently in places where candidates are looking for information on prospective jobs and employers.

Your school website

Research shows this is a key place candidates search for information. 83% of candidates will visit a prospective employer’s website and careers page to find out more about them.

Use this to your advantage by providing plenty of information to get candidates excited about your school’s location. Highlight the interesting and unique aspects of your area, such as landmarks, sites of interest, recreational activities and the local culture they can experience while working at your school.

Your school profile pages

When searching online, 27% of candidates look for information about prospective employers on school profile pages on job boards and websites like Teach Away.

Capitalize on this marketing opportunity by providing not just basic details about your school, but compelling information about your location targeted towards teachers who want to work in your region.

Your job postings

60% of candidates will only proceed with an application if they can find the location of the school in the job posting.

Knowing candidates are highly likely to search for this information in your job postings, it makes sense to also use this space to briefly highlight the potential benefits of your school’s location.

Make your school easy to find in search results.

Highlighting information about your location not only helps candidates decide to apply for positions at your school, it also makes your school visible to them when they’re searching for jobs online.

When starting a job search using a search engine, our recruitment report survey showed that candidates often look for teaching jobs in specific countries, regions or cities by searching for “teach in…” a specific location. For example, “teach in Japan” or “teach in Buenos Aires.”

graphic how candidates are searching for teaching jobs abroad

In order for candidates to find you, your school website and job postings need to be optimized for the country, region and city you’re located in.

Including clear information about the location of your school will increase your visibility in targeted search results. This will make it easier for candidates actively searching for roles in your region to find your school.

Improve teacher retention by targeting candidates interested in your location.

What about retention?

Teacher retention in international schools is determined by a number of factors but, according to our recruitment report survey, location is one of the most significant.

Teachers who said they were planning to renew their contract with their current school gave two main reasons why: First, because they felt valued in the workplace, and, second, because they enjoyed the lifestyle in the location where they were working.

Finding teachers who are a good fit for your school’s specific location can, clearly, result in a positive, long-term work relationship. Thus, by using your school’s location to your advantage during your recruitment process, you can not only improve your recruitment efforts, but also improve your school’s retention.

Start optimizing your recruitment strategy today.

Building a recruitment strategy that highlights your school’s benefits in a way that speaks directly to the teachers you need requires looking at things from a teacher’s perspective. Better understanding what motivates candidates, how they search for jobs and which factors lead to them accepting teaching roles (and staying in those positions longer) can help you figure out how to connect with the right candidates for your international school, wherever it’s located.

For travel-minded international educators, location is a key motivator that every school can use to their advantage in recruitment. So it’s time to start thinking of your school’s unique location as an asset and communicating what makes it a great place to live and work.

Final takeaway: the first step to overcoming any recruitment challenge you may be facing is to read the latest research and seek out expert advice.

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