Is Search Associates On Your Side?

As teachers begin to prepare to recruit and find a new job, one important choice they face is what services they will use for recruitment. The two usual choices are Search Associates and ISS (now known as ISS-Schrole Advantage). Many teachers, for convenience, stick with the choice they made the very first time they went overseas – a choice that was often uninformed and under-researched. It behooves you to understand a bit about how these recruiting companies operate financially so that you can understand where your agent’s loyalties may lie.

Here is the fee structure for Search Associates

  • Schools pay a $2000 membership fee and then pay $1980 per teacher hire
  • Teachers pay a $225 membership fee (membership lasts for 3 years)

Here is the fee structure for ISS-Schrole Advantage:

  • Schools pay a one-time fee between $5,300 and $20,000 dollars (dependent on school size), but do not pay any cost per hire
  • Teachers pay a $75 annual membership fee

Right off the bat, you can see that ISS costs schools more and candidates less. Being paid by schools on a per-candidate basis means that Search Associates real loyalties are going to lie with their schools. Like any free market, many of these schools will be great and many will be average, and many will be below-average or even bad. Search is going to be blind to this though, and encourage you to be open to any job because if they can get you placed in any school, they’re going to rack up the cash.

ISS, on the other hand, is charging both schools and candidates a flat fee. This gives ISS an advantage as it can act with a fiduciary responsibility to both schools and to candidates – there is not a cash incentive waiting for a placement. While a school recruiting companies reputation may go down if they place many candidates with bad schools, you better believe that the blow is softened then they get paid 2000 dollars each time they do it.

Search is basically acting like a real estate agent representing both sides of a deal – they get double paid. In this analogy, the real estate agent has an interest in keeping the price high as they get a percentage of the sale value. In teacher recruiting terms, it simply means that Search is going to work hard to get you a job, regardless of whether it is a good job or not.

Is Search Associates bad? No, they’re not. But when you recruit with Search Associates and your associate is pushing you to interview with schools outside of your stated comfort zone, you should at least be aware of why they are doing it.

Is ISS-Schrole Advantage immune to these problems? No, they’re not. You should do your due diligence for any school you recruit with as well as for any recruiting agency you choose to use. You should be aware that nobody is going to look out for your own interests better than you will, and that you owe it to yourself to make careful decisions, especially when they are of this magnitude.

Source for ISS Data


  1. Wasn’t very impressed with the listings on ISR, but that was before their merger. The thought of securing references in an additional system has got me all ruffled. TIE Online isn’t bad so long as one has some experience to know what to watch out for.

    Search Associates definitely pushed ASK


  2. I’ve secured 2 jobs through Search (first one to ASK) and I never felt pressured to do anything. I never even discussed schools with my associate. Maybe I’m independent and my associate was more hands-off, but I’ve always seen Search as merely a long term repository for my bio and confidential references, a place to search through job listings during recruitment time, and an initial connection/ “in” when contacting schools. I’m not interested in attending their job fairs or involving the associate in my decision making process. I’d rather rely on my own research and network. But that’s just my experience.


  3. NOT IMPRESSED WITH SEARCH ASSOCIATES:I am a current member. I think it would be helpful for future international job seekers to know some of the challenges and limitations when it comes to interviews and finding your first international job. Challenges: 1. It will be hard to find an international job if your “FIRST DEGREE” IS NOT IN EDUCATION. My first degree is in Psychology, but I got certified as a Classroom teacher and although I have 12 yrs of experience, international mployers seem to prefer Education as your first Bachelor degree. 2. Get a IB (international Baccalaureate) teaching experience. 3. You may have to choose a 2nd choice country before making it to Europe. 4. The Search Associates are good in helping and guiding you through the process, however, after you submit your payment and complete the initial process, you “may” not hear as “often” from them. Lucky for me, I got my first dream job in Europe, and it was through a personal contact, not Search Associates.


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