This is a post for people wondering what it is like to obtain a job teaching overseas, for prospective teachers who want to move to Abu Dhabi or for those who are simply curious about my next adventure. The recruitment process with ADEC is a long one and requires perseverance and a strong desire to see it through!
If you’re a teacher abroad, you know how crucial it is to get a good offer. With schools offering packages that include free housing, medical insurance, flights and a generous tax free salary, you want to make sure you get the best offer for you with a decent company that’s not going to deport you if you try to suggest new teaching strategies.
There are a few companies that are considered the holy grail of schools from what I hear. These include the GEMS school group, Aldar Academy Schools, ARAMCO ( Saudi Arabian Oil Company), as well as ADEC (Abu Dhabi Education Council) and many others. For most teachers these places are considered the creme de la creme of teaching positions in terms of salary packages and benefits. (I haven’t worked for any of these companies, I am just relaying what I have heard and seen from those that seem to be in the know).
Of course I really wanted to work for a good school from before I left South Africa for the Middle East. Unfortunately I missed my opportunity to interview with GEMS but I managed to secure an interview with ADEC. Yes the really good offers sometimes require in person interviews and some even ask you to teach a class while being observed. However my first interview was unsuccessful and I wasn’t offered employment with them.
I wasn’t planning to apply with ADEC agin, in fact I wasn’t planning to leave Kuwait at all, but when circumstances changed and I realised I needed to leave Kuwait, I started applying for jobs in earnest. Truthfully I applied for over 300 positions AT LEAST. If I was lucky I received a rejection letter but most of the time I heard nothing from the schools. All around me, my British and American colleagues were waltzing into new jobs with minimal effort and I was starting to see the huge role nationality and experience plays in this part of the world. For e.g. A British curriculum school would hire a newly qualified British teacher over an experienced South African one. The official reason: a lack of experience with the British curriculum. The unofficial reason: your accent isn’t what they want. Lots of job adverts say: North American candidates only or only accepting American teaching licenses. It seems discriminatory but it is quite an acceptable practice. It seemed that no one wanted me despite my 4 university degrees and 5 years of experience.
When one of my recruiters suggested ADEC, I was skeptical but come March and it seemed that I was going to become a trophy wife. I didn’t want that. Well… more like I couldn’t afford that! So I agreed. I want to outline the process that you go through from agreeing to apply right through to the arrival in Abu Dhabi. Hopefully this helps new recruits know what to expect because it is a lengthy process.
1. The recruiter
The first step in your ADEC process is communication with your recruiter. You will submit your CV and they will tell you whether you are suitable or not. There quite a few requirements that you need to meet such as holding a passport from one of the 5 native English speaking countries, a minimum of 2 years experience post teaching qualification etc. There are quite a few recruitment agencies that hire for ADEC, you just need to choose one you like. The list includes :
I don’t think one is better than the other, it seems to be just a matter of preference. The first time I applied I went through Footprints Recruiting and the second time I went through Edvectus. I had pleasant experiences with both. (Note: If you are applying from within the GCC, I advise going with Teach Away.)
Once you indicate your interest in ADEC positions, the recruiter will set up a time to talk to you. Although each recruiter is different, I imagine they would ask similar questions. They will ask you questions about your experiences teaching, why you want to move abroad and perhaps one or two situational questions. At this stage I got the impression they just wanted to see if I was a serious candidate (that wouldn’t bail at the last minute), what kind of experience I had and of course, my level of English. Not only will they ask you questions, they will also inform about the hiring process, the benefits of the position and an especially good recruiter will be able to tell you what your expected salary would be based on your qualifications and experience. This is because ADEC has a set pay scale and you will be paid according to that (you will not be paid according to your nationality which is what happens in most private schools here). The call lasts 20 minutes at the most. Its quick and painless.
2. The Interview
Depending on when you have your first phone meeting with the recruiter, you might have quite a wait until the date for your in person interview is announced. ADEC usually interviews twice a year: Jan/Feb or March/April. Your date is dependent on your location as they fly from city to city to conduct the interviews. I waited two months for my interview date the first time round and a month for the second time. The waiting is quite normal even though it may feel like the recruiter has forgotten about you and you feel quite helpless as you wait.
You should have AT LEAST a week’s notice before the interview because sometimes you may have to travel for the interview depending on whether the interview location is in your city or not. Yes you need to be present in person (there is no work around this as far as I know).
The first time I interviewed in Durban at the Royal Hotel. I arrived there at 07:30 and after we were briefed by an ADEC official visa Skype, we waited for our names to be called. There are multiple interview rooms and each interview takes maximum 30 minutes. Even though you have to be present, the interviewers (usually at least 2) will be communicating with you via Skype! If you want to know what kind of questions they ask, please click here for Panda’s Possible Interview Questions Guide.
If your slot is at 9am then hooray, you will be free to leave at 9:30! However if you are an unlucky soul who has the 12:00 slot then you will be waiting around all morning.
The second time I interviewed, I had to fly to Abu Dhabi and present myself at the ADEC headquarters. Between driving there, missing the offramp from the highway, finding parking and being rather intimidated by the sleek appearance of the building, I was rather overwhelmed.
We were herded along by our recruiters and briefed by ADEC officials on the terms and conditions of our employment. Then we had to wait for our time slot. Guess who got the unlucky 12:00 slot?! I was literally the last person to be interviewed. I won’t lie and say that the questions are particularly easy but if you know your stuff, you will be fine. Again, refer to this link for possible questions.
3. The result and the document collection
I know that there are a lot of factors to take into consideration regarding when you will hear whether your interview is successful or not, but this was my experience. The first time, within a week I received an email from the recruiter saying that I would receive an offer letter soon and that I should start getting my documents together. A MONTH after that, she informed me that ADEC was downsizing for the year and they were rescinding offers.
Second time round, it took exactly one week until the recruiter sent me a congratulations email with the offer letter attached. The offer letter states the years you are contracted for (3 years in most recent cases) and your salary.
The documents I was asked to collect include:
If you are in South Africa and need help amassing these document click here.
If you are in Kuwait and need help obtaining a criminal record check, click here.
(SACE is a South African teacher’s license and the introductory statement is provided by your recruiter).
You usually get a month to collect, authenticate and submit the documentation to your recruiter via e-mail (but they will accept documents after the deadline). Apparently some recruiters want the hard copies and require candidates to post it to them (?) but this was never the case with me.
Once the documents are submitted and you are informed that they have been sent to ADEC for processing, you will sit tight and wait for your departure date!
UPDATE: My departure date is 19 July and I was informed of this on the 28 June via an email from a travel agent.
That gives me roughly 3 weeks to tie up loose ends and pack for my next adventure.
As my journey with ADEC unfolds, I will share it with you on the blog. But for now, its time for me to spend some quality time with my loved ones and soak up the South African sunshine!