Confidential References 

Search Associate’s online confidential references are considered the gold standard in the industry. Schools can be assured of the integrity of the references, which are an important part of their hiring decisions and one of the main reasons why international schools prefer to hire Search candidates.

Confidential references, along with police/criminal background checks, are also part of Search’s commitment to Child Protection and Safety Standards, and are aligned with the recommendations of the International Taskforce on Child Protection

How many references?

All candidates must have a minimum of FOUR confidential references, from your current and/or recent schools, from your supervisors. If you are re-activating your account, then you need at least 2 new references from your current school, which will be added to your previous references. Additional references can be requested to strengthen your application.

How to request online confidential references

First, you should speak with your supervisors and ask them if they would be willing to complete an online confidential reference form.

You request references from your Dashboard (My Profile, Confidential References, Request a Reference). Make sure you request the correct form! You must request your school references through the referees’ school e-mail addresses. School references received from personal email addresses, such as Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo, are not acceptable (if your referee has retired, contact me for an exemption). 

Your referee will receive an email with a link to a 1-page online form. Once they submit the completed form, it will come directly to Search for approval. This assures the confidentiality of the reference.

When to request references?

You can request references at any time, and in any account status (Active, Pending, Archived etc). If you are leaving your current school, make sure you request references before you leave! Or, if any of your supervisors (Head of School, Principal, Vice/Asst Principal) are moving on, request a confidential reference before they leave. It’s always easier to request these while you are still colleagues and their memories are fresh.

Who can you use as Referees? Which Form to use?

We require references from referees who have directly supervised you.

One reference is also required from your most recent past employer. 

You must get a reference from your current Head of School/Director and your Principal. This assures us that your school leadership team knows that you are re-activating your Search account.

We cannot accept references from other teachers. We also do not accept open letters of reference.

Administrative Candidates (those seeking principalships or other Admin/leadership positions) require a minimum of 4 LEADERSHIP references, from referees who can speak to your ability as an Administrator. Direct supervisors, peer administrators, and board members are acceptable referees. Make sure you request the “LEADERSHIP” form.

Teaching/Administrative Candidates (those seeking both types of positions) require a minimum of 4 references from current and previous schools. You must submit 2 LEADERSHIP references (Head of School and Principal) from those who can attest to your skills as an Administrator, and 2 TEACHING references (Assistant Principal or similar level or higher) from those who can attest to your skills as a teacher.

Counselor/Librarian Candidates require a minimum of 4 Counselor/Librarian references, from those who can attest to your skills as a Counselor or Librarian. Make sure you request the “COUNSELOR/LIBRARIAN” form. One reference must be from someone at the Principal level or higher. The second should be from the Assistant Principal or similar level or higher. (Do NOT use the Leadership form – this is for candidates seeking a principalship or other leadership positions.)

Teacher Candidates One reference must be from someone at the Principal level or higher. The second should be from the Assistant Principal or similar level or higher. Your referees should be able to comment objectively on your performance in the classroom as a result of a teacher development/appraisal system. (Do NOT use the Leadership form – this is for candidates seeking a principalship or other leadership positions.) 

I sent my confidential reference requests to my referees weeks ago but they are still not complete. What should I do?

It is YOUR responsibility to monitor references that are in “requested” status. You should be contacting each referee to make sure they received the automatic email with the link to the reference form and give them a gentle nudge to get these references completed. Don’t wait a few weeks before following up! The longer it takes to have all of your confidential references submitted, the longer the activation or re-activation process will take.

Once your new references are submitted, EMAIL ME TO LET ME KNOW. Our system does not track this automatically, so I rely on YOU to tell me when your account is ready to activate.

Can I remove a confidential reference from my file?

You can delete references that are in “requested” status at any time. However, once a reference has been submitted or completed, you must email me and request to have the reference removed. It is up to the discretion of the Associate (me) whether we can grant this request or not based on an assessment of the full set of your references on file. We CANNOT give you any information on whether a reference should or should not be removed or which one to remove. That would be violating our confidentiality with the referee. 

Can I see my confidential references?

No, your referees submit the references on the condition that they remain confidential. We are not able to divulge the contents of the references, so you need to consider carefully who you are asking to submit the references. When you apply to Search Associates you agree to waive the right to view the contents of your online references.

Can I send you the open references given to me by my supervisors?

Please do not upload or send me any open letters of reference. Recruiters routinely tell us that they are not interested in viewing them for two reasons. They typically say the same glowing, general things as other open references, and they usually do not address all of the categories that are important for recruiters to consider in order to get a complete picture of you as a professional. Keep your open letters of recommendation/references in your paper application or online portfolio to show recruiters in case they express an interest in viewing them. Or, when emailing schools, you can attach your CV/resume and maybe one open letter of recommendation to entice them to view your Search profile online.

I don’t want to ask my current administrators for a reference because they will know that I’m leaving and might “take it out on me.”

Most administrators are supportive of their teachers’ professional growth opportunities and are happy to complete the confidential reference. You might tell your administrator that you are setting up your Search account because you are preparing options for the future. There are unusual situations in which an administrator might not be as supportive, but then you have a big decision to make. School recruiters will wonder why you do not have a current confidential reference in your file from the appropriate senior manager at your present school and might not consider your file as seriously as other candidates who have the full array of references. The best situation is to have current confidential references from the leadership team at your school.

I teach at a school where most parents speak little or no English. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for them to fill out the parent reference form. What should I do?

This is a not uncommon situation for those teaching at a school with a high percentage of host-country students. This limitation is understood by the recruiters who will read your application. You should try, if possible, to get at least one parent reference form, but if you cannot, add one or two more supervisor references.

Since the Search Associates reference forms are confidential to the candidate, do you screen them and remove those that may not be helpful? It is strange not to be able to see my letters of recommendation.

The essence of confidential evaluations is precisely that—they are confidential. In agreeing to open a file with Search Associates, you waive your right to see whatever someone writes. It is our observation that the best teachers are often the most insecure when it comes to references. 

What might be a good reason NOT to ask my current Principal or Head for a confidential reference?

If you have a new principal or head who has never seen you teach, you might wait a month or two, or ask him or her to observe your work. It is still best to develop good relationships with any new administrative team and ask for confidential references; however, in rare cases, this might not be easy or possible. Contact me for advice on this if you need it.

Why can’t I have teachers that I work with submit confidential supervisor references, they know my work?

Recruiters know that peer references are similar to having a good friend write an open letter of recommendation. Peers are not in the role of supervising and evaluating professional skills. Supervisor references MUST be completed by those in administrative or leadership/supervisory roles.

Can you transfer my confidential references to another agency or to a non-Search school?

We are not able to transfer references to another recruiting agency or a non-Search member school. References are only available to recruiters who have access to our secure system. Referees submit the confidential forms on the firm understanding that they will not be shared with any 3rd parties, persons or organizations, that are not members of Search Associates (schools, recruiters, candidates). This ensures the integrity of your references and the Search confidential references system.