It was inspiring to see education pros across the country stepped up to the challenge as stories emerged of teachers finding creative ways to teach special ed job skills, encourage parents, and somehow make kids excited about getting on Zoom!
However, we’re only now seeing how much the extra time and energy spent stepping up to the task of the COVID classroom has taken its toll. In a typical year, around 8% of teachers will leave their positions. Since 2020 that rate has more than doubled! In the last two years over half a million teachers quit their positions.
As the rate of teachers leaving the field has not slowed down since we’ve returned to a more normal life, filling teaching positions has become a top priority for the majority of schools across the country.
It is now necessary to shed some light as to how schools can improve their hiring processes so that they can attract and keep great talent. There is a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in.
Current Issues in the Teacher Hiring Process
To provide the most effective advice on attracting top talent, Foxbright interviewed Ellen Winterburn, the VP of Human Resources at Barfly Ventures. Winterburn specializes in the hospitality industry and has found many of the same hiring challenges that currently burden those in education.
When asked about modern hiring problems, Winterburn had the following to say:
"In today's world we're trying to make it so easy for people to apply, that we've made it too easy for people to apply. And that's causing issues. People are just clicking and mass applying for everything. Sometimes you'll follow up with them and they won't even know who you are."
With sites like Indeed and LinkedIn, it’s never been easier to apply for jobs. Eligible candidates can connect with dozens of employers in a matter of minutes and apply en masse with a click of a button. Today’s application process online is nothing if not highly efficient. However, has this come at the cost of efficacy? Winterburn and several other HR professionals have shared a common theme that they’ll see candidates showing up to an interview not even knowing which company they were applying to because they cast such a wide net!
So what is the solution to attracting a high quantity of quality candidates?
Winterburn poses asking yourself the following question, “How can you make the application process painless, yet personalized?”
Building the Best Teacher Job Description
Crafting a good job description shouldn’t just mean it’s effective only on the candidate’s end of things, but also on the employer’s end. As an employer, you should be able to gain insight into a few important questions.
- Does the candidate identify with the school’s brand/culture? This could mean something as straightforward as school values/mantra, or it could be something more specific like a religious affiliation.
- Does the candidate have fitting personality characteristics? Good talent is as unique and self-aware as the organization they are applying to is. This makes it necessary to weed out candidates who response to a personality questionnaire with, “I’m a hard worker.”
- Does the candidate have the required skill set? There is no use even interviewing a candidate who doesn’t qualify for the job. Make sure all ‘have-to-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ skillsets are clarified in the job description.
The last thing you want to do as an employer is to invite a candidate to an interview just to find out they didn’t have the skill/certification requirements or identify with your school’s culture. In the hiring process, the employer’s time is just as important as the employee’s. For this reason, it’s necessary to ensure all important questions are answered in the initial application.
Things to Include in a Teacher Job Posting
When creating a teacher job posting, it’s important to find ways to spark interest in the candidate’s mind right off the bat. You only have a few seconds to capture their attention before a great potential candidate continues scrolling to a competitor! For this reason, the beginning of the post must be to-the-point, yet intriguing, while also highlighting what is in it for them. Day-to-day details are important, but they should be contained lower in the posting when you’ve already got a captive audience.
Information to put at the top of the post:
- The “why” for a candidate’s consideration of the job (What makes this place of employment stand out?)
- 1-2 sentences describing the school’s mission
- Employer/employee relationship (i.e. what the school can do for them)
- The most important “have-to-have” professional requirements and certifications. At the end of the day, if they don’t have a specific certification necessary for the position, then moving forward in the hiring process is nothing but a waste of time for ALL parties involved.
Information to put in the body of the post:
- Their responsibilities
- Information about the team they’ll be on
- Opportunities for growth and career advancement
- ‘nice-to-haves’ additional certifications or skills that the employer could train the candidate on later
- Diversity & inclusion policy
Things to Avoid in a Teacher Job Posting
Just as there are certain best practices that educational institutions should follow when hiring, there are also a number of things they should avoid.
Day-to-day details at the beginning of job posting – this can lead to decreased engagement and interest.
Asking different questions for different candidates. Hiring standards require all organizations to ask the same fair questions to each candidate.
An immediate video chat or in-person interview. Organizations should do an initial phone screening of candidates to avoid assumptions.
Descriptors that have inherent bias, such as recent college graduate – this could imply youth is prioritized in the organization and exclude older candidates.
Easy to Find = Easy to Apply
There is no getting around the need for the application and hiring process to be efficient. In our world of instant gratification, streamlining your organization’s hiring process is essential. However, to find the best talent for each position, it’s necessary to start with how you organize and display your job listings.
Winterburn gives the advice of grouping categories of jobs together. For educational institutions, this may mean grouping grade levels or subjects in the same category.
In addition to being a good principle of navigation design, creating united categories has a positive psychological effect on the potential candidate. As the candidate sees that not only is a first-grade teaching position open, but also a third and fourth grade, they’ll see their chances of landing a position with your organization to be increased. This can help encourage the more qualified candidates to apply, bringing better talent to the organization.
As they get a better understanding of the organization and opportunities, they then begin to dive into the application main event: the job posting.
Making your Brand Shine
Hopefully, a candidate will explore your website before applying. It’s all but certain they’ll do so (I mean, if they don’t it should be a red flag…) once they make it to the first step in the application process. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure that your site has an intuitive, attractive design, highlights how you connect with your community and portrays your brand values quickly and clearly.
Your team works hard to make a difference in the lives of the students you teach. But if that isn’t translated into a compelling, public-facing message, then you miss out on a lot of opportunities to reap the benefits for all the hard work!
Bonus: As Steve Forbes once said, "Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business." But condensing all of that important and often complex information into one concise message is no easy task. That's why we've created a guide to help schools organize their message into a one-page, easy to share document. Download a free copy for yourself below!
Final Thoughts on Attracting Quality Talent in Education
There is no denying the issues facing those in the education industry today. It has become tougher and tougher to attract and keep top talent. This current situation makes it paramount for educational institutions to spend more time crafting job postings that are informative, intriguing and authentic.
It goes without saying that in order to attract and retain qualified teachers, school administrators will also need to take care of business outside of the hiring process. Quality of education should be prioritized above all else. Website navigation and an emphasis on community involvement should also be considered, as it’s important for candidates to see how the organization can have a positive impact in the real world.
Finding the right teachers for your school may seem difficult at the moment. However, by following the best practices of showcasing what you need, what you offer, and how your brand stands out, we believe you’ll rise to the challenge of attracting the top talent in the education industry.