Job fairs are popping up everywhere. I don’t know anybody who enjoys job fairs. Nor do I know anybody hired by a school after attending one. Job fairs are like playing the lottery — you can’t win if you don’t play. And the odds of getting hired after attending a teacher job fair are about the same as winning the lottery. But I’d feel guilty if I didn’t go. Guilty because I could be passing up a possible teaching opportunity.
Job fairs allow school administrators to get a 2-minute glance at my face, scribble on my resume, and the next thing I know I’m standing in another line to repeat the process. I was grateful the job fair moved along quickly this time, which is a big improvement from the last time. The fair was staffed with plenty of department heads, assistant principals and principals. Last time I spent 4 hours waiting for my 2-minute interview.
Another reason I don’t like going to teaching job fairs is because candidates rarely know what schools are looking for; school needs change yearly. A former classmate of mine who substitute teaches in Naperville heard from the faculty that this year’s fair served only one purpose, to weed out Caucasian teaching candidates. That was about 98 percent of everybody there.
One job fair I know about represented 19 school districts. After walking a half-mile in sub-zero temperatures and high winds through the parking lot, I reluctantly forked-over the $15 admission fee. When I asked the lady collecting cash who benefits from my $15, she didn’t know, but handed me my nametag and pointed me in the direction of the lines.
I was somewhat encouraged attending this job fair because the Business Department chairman at one high school told me her school has actually hired candidates from this job fair. She must have stayed home that cold Saturday morning because I didn’t see her there.
Last year I went to one job fair and waited in a long line to interview with the English Department chairman at one of the high schools. He was a friendly man who asked me a couple questions, then gave me the opportunity to ask him one. My single question was “Is your high school going to have any English openings this year?” and his one-word response was unequivocally, “No!”
“So why the bleep are you here,” is what I felt like saying, but I just smiled, shook his hand, and departed the room vowing to never attend another job fair.
The next teaching job fair is rapidly approaching. It’s a multicultural event, and this leads me to believe that I may be wasting my time again because I’m Caucasian, and schools appear to be targeting minority teachers.
There is hope, however. According to www.whyteach.org only 24 percent of teachers are men, and “young boys may complete elementary and secondary education and never encounter a male teacher.” How sad is that? We need more men teachers!
I’m going to be tight-lipped about the location and date of the upcoming fair.
As selfish as that might be, the competition for teaching jobs in my region is brutal, and this may help keep the lines short. It’s cold outside fellow unemployed teachers, so stay home.