Build It Up, Buttercup: Keeping Your Applicant Pools Full
Education has a problem.
To replace retiring teachers and keep up with increasing student enrollment, schools will need to hire about 300,000 new teachers every year. But less than 5 percent of high school seniors are interested in education as a major or profession. Clearly, there’s a massive gap between the number of teachers needed to fill our classrooms, and the number of people interested in becoming teachers — and many districts are already feeling the pinch.
Unfortunately, a true solution to filling the national teacher pipeline is beyond the efforts of a single organization. It’ll take widespread societal changes to how teaching is perceived and supported as a profession, and that’s a work in progress.
In the meantime, though, finding enough teacher candidates to fill open positions in our schools isn’t impossible; it just requires thoughtful strategies. Some of these strategies take a while to take full effect — like “Grow Your Own” programs, which focus on supporting current non-teaching staff in a journey to becoming credentialed teachers. Other districts focus on co-curricular career pathways (like Educators Rising) to help secondary school students prepare for a future in teaching. This goes beyond recruiting — districts will need to also take a more holistic approach to developing and retaining their current employees to keep the best teachers in their classrooms.
However, these initiatives take time to plan and implement, and many district recruiters need an influx of teaching candidates now.
What Can You Do Right Now?
The news is full of districts coming up with innovative ways to attract new educators. Some build housing, offer sizeable signing bonuses or help new teachers pay off student loans. But not every district has the resources for those kinds of incentives. Luckily, there are ways to ensure deeper applicant pools for every position.
Start recruiting and hiring early.
When is the best time to start recruiting teachers? Trick question — it’s always a good time to build your applicant pool. Instead of waiting for candidates to come to you, consider proactively recruiting applicants. Keep in mind that the best teachers do tend to be hired early in the spring, so it’s a good idea to move your hiring timeline up as much as possible. You’ll be the early bird who gets the worm, plus you’ll have less end-of-summer stress caused by unfilled positions as the school year approaches.
Create compelling recruitment materials.
What makes great teachers want to work in your school? Invest in a well-designed district website to attract new applicants and show off the many reasons why teachers should want to work with you. Recruitment is all about marketing your district, so make sure you have a compelling message to reach potential candidates.
Modernize (and customize) your recruiting practices.
Still recruiting through newspaper classifieds? Today’s job-seekers look for positions online, so consider advertising jobs on high-volume websites like K12Jobspot and Teachers-Teachers.
Recruiting online lets you reach more teachers, even those out of state. And although it’s often said that about 60 percent of teachers work within 20 miles of where they went to high school, this may be changing. Millennials — the youngest generation of teachers —are far more likely to relocate for a job, with 85 percent saying they are willing to move to a new city for work. They’re also the most likely to seek out new jobs online, making online recruiting a sound strategy for any district.
Building a strong applicant pool is like making a masterpiece out of LEGO: it will take some creativity and time, and you need to make sure you have all the right pieces. But it’s all worth it when you find the right teachers who, like LEGO, will “inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.”