Like most other sectors of the economy in recent times, schools are having a hard time recruiting, hiring, and maintaining a full staff. Finding the right candidates who are educated, qualified, and possess the right set of skills to relate to and understand youth is a challenge, so districts and administrators should always follow the best practices they can when implementing K-12 staffing. In order to do so, some specific steps can be taken when evaluating and adjusting hiring and recruitment practices.
Basic Steps of Recruiting
Some of the basic steps that schools, districts, or other educational facilities should take when beginning a hiring and recruitment process are:
Examine your needs
It’s important to have a full and complete assessment of how much staff you need, the qualifications of the staff you have, what ideal staffing levels are, and who will be staying or leaving. The first step towards a comprehensive staffing strategy is to lay out and ascertain your needs and goals for the hiring process.
Create a timeline
Schools that have the best staffing strategies understand that recruitment for schools is a year-round process that can’t be simply rushed in August immediately before school starts. You should be identifying candidates up to a year before hiring, having them sign contracts before summer starts, and then having the hiring process completed by June before the summer break before their first year starts.
Work on your recruitment strategies
The first concrete step you will take is to evaluate and update your recruitment strategies, such as:
- Recruitment websites
- Social media
- Staffing agencies
- Job postings
- Brochures or flyers
- Specific messages sent to candidates
- Job fairs
- Offering a recruitment bonus to current staff
- Open houses or other school events
- Build relationships with colleges or universities nearby to recruit graduates
- Sign-on bonuses, retention bonuses, housing stipends, or other financial incentives
- Word of mouth
These messages should contain information about the available jobs and why the candidate would want to work there. A good way to reach out and make connections is to have a school philosophy or message that is inspiring and relatable.
Create a hiring team
One of the best practices that can be followed by schools or districts that need to find staff is to create a selected, designated team that will be in charge of the recruitment and hiring process. Having multiple people working on it leads to a more effective strategy and a more diverse and robust set of outcomes. Using a team to hire also protects the school legally, as it shields from allegations of discrimination or arbitrary hiring practices that can stem from just one person making decisions.
Develop a recruitment plan
At this stage, it’s important to lay out more specifics. For example, what will the budget be for hiring and advertising positions? Who will be in charge of what goals, and how will the school know when those goals are met?
The critical components of a comprehensive recruitment plan are as follows:
- Set goals
- Determine what steps are needed to meet those goals
- Set a timeline for the goals
- Assign responsibilities
- Set a budget and allocate resources
- Determine what outcomes are desired
- Decide how the school will know when the goals are met
- Set any accountability measures
- Meet regularly to discuss progress toward the goals
Critically analyze your recruitment practices and adjust as needed
When you start getting applicants, you can ask some questions to determine where changes can be made to increase the effectiveness of the process. Some of these questions are:
- Where did they hear about the job or the school?
- How much did it cost in terms of money, resources, or time to recruit the applicant?
- Which types of recruitment provided candidates that are best suited for the school?
- Which applicants received offers, and which ones did not?
- Which strategy provided the most applicants?
America is facing a “catastrophic” teacher shortage, so it’s important to be proactive about following these steps and making sure your hiring process works well and is efficient. If you aren’t currently having staffing issues, implementing these strategies can help it stay that way, and make sure that you don’t end up desperate to fill positions a month or two before school starts. For districts that proactively follow the above strategies and provide incentives like a competitive salary rate and benefits, staffing is an issue that should resolve itself over time, but this is not always the case.
When that happens, there is only one option that can provide you with the staff you need, right away, with the experience and credentials you require: staffing agencies. These are a defensive measure against critically low staffing, and can provide workers to step in where they are needed the most. With a combination of the above strategies and staffing agencies, your school will continue to run smoothly and fulfill its ultimately critical role in society of giving our youth the inspiring and well-rounded education they deserve.