3 Characteristics (and Examples) of Great Teacher Job Descriptions
In the United States, there are over 13,000 school districts and 33,000 private schools, all vying to hire the most exceptional educators. But with the ongoing teacher shortage and the decline in teacher preparation program enrollments, it makes this stiff competition even harder and may leave district leaders struggling to meet school demands and serve student needs.
If your district feels as though your back is against the wall with little you can do to fill open positions when candidate supply is low, you’re not alone. The good news is, there are ways to stand out! By tailoring your recruiting practices, your district can rise above the competition and quickly attract the highest quality applicants from the existing candidate pool.
Making Your District Stand Out
In a perfect world, you’d have enough time to do a deep audit and revamp of your recruiting strategies. Chances are, you don’t have the hours to commit to such a big initiative right now. Instead, start with one piece that piece will make a quick impact, like job descriptions! Yes, those job descriptions. The ones that have been serving your district well enough for the past several years (or in some cases, decades).
Do they still accurately reflect the current job responsibilities? Do they clearly outline what you need and expect from candidates? If so, that’s a good start — but it’s just the beginning.
Great job descriptions are current and accurate.
Some districts haven’t updated their job descriptions since Prince turned himself into a symbol. What about yours? Set a goal to review job descriptions and job posting templates on a yearly basis —during employees’ year-end review, or as part of the planning process.
When you do update your job descriptions, it’s a good idea to conduct a job analysis and create an ideal candidate profile. That way, you can ensure that every job description accurately conveys the knowledge, skills and abilities you’re looking for.
Great job postings are written for job-seekers — not hiring managers.
Too often, job postings are written for a hiring manager’s point of view, when they should be written for job-seekers. Of course, job descriptions need to be honest, accurate and compliant, but they can be interesting and engaging, too.
The purpose of a job description is not just to outline a particular position’s main duties and responsibilities, but to inspire candidates to apply and become engaged with the district’s mission. When candidates feel a connection through your district from the moment they see your job posting, you’ll find you have higher-quality applicant pools, greater employee engagement and less turnover.
So, make your job descriptions work for you: write them in a way that speaks to what job-seekers are looking for. Explain what you’re looking for in a candidate, and give them a taste of why your district is a great place to work. And don’t forget to include your district’s mission statement: The New Teacher Project (TNTP) found that 53 percent of teachers were attracted to their school because of the organization’s philosophy and mission.
Great job postings put your best foot forward.
When educators begin searching for a new job, they can be inundated with open positions. What are you doing to make your postings stand out? It’s not enough to post a vacancy with a brief or nonexistent job description — this is your first opportunity to show off your district’s brand to candidates.
Make sure that your job postings are memorable and cast your district in a good light. Showcase the many reasons why great educators want to work in your district by including them in the job description or linking to resources on your district’s website.
What we love: This job posting for a second-grade teacher at Table Rock Elementary opens with clear branding at the top, followed by a strong recruitment message: the district is located in a beautiful area, with a wealth of cultural and outdoor experiences just waiting to be discovered.
The district uses the opening paragraph to highlight their classroom initiatives, stability and benefits before laying out the position details, description and expectations. They have also included easily-accessible links to the district website, as well as a link to the Travel Southern Oregon site for job-seekers who aren’t from the area.
What we love: Rather than introducing the district through text, Minnetonka included a video about their schools in a high school math teacher job posting. The use of media really stood out: after poring through what felt like hundreds of job postings, theirs was the only one to have a video directly embedded in the job description.
What we love: This small district might only have one school, but they certainly aren’t short on information. Their job description for a family & consumer science teacher opens with a bullet-point overview of the position, followed by an engaging introduction that clearly defines the school’s progressive, success-driven philosophy.
It might be long, but it gives prospective applicants plenty of information to decide if this school is the right fit.
From Job Posting to Job Offer
Though revisiting your job descriptions is a great first step, don’t stop there! To continue to rise above the competition, it’s essential to understand the applicant’s journey, as well as which aspects of the recruiting and hiring process are most valued. What does that mean? Districts must look at the entire cycle from job postings to the job offer (and even beyond).
Job postings should clearly list required or preferred skills, credentials, and experience
Throughout the application process, job seekers want to be able to see the status of their application and hear from employers in a timely manner
Job seekers want to meet with an internal hiring decision manager, not a third party-recruiter
After receiving an offer, job seekers want onboarding instructions
Ready for more strategies to help your district stand out?
Check out Frontline Research & Learning Institute’s full research brief, “The State of the Instructional Teacher Shortage”, for up-to-date, data-driven insights that will help prepare school leaders with the information they need to attract quality staff to their district. Download Now
This article was originally published on March 12, 2018 and updated on November 8, 2020 for content relevance.
Annie is a writer and part of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. She's passionate about learning, exploring data and sharing knowledge. Her specialties include substitute management, the K-12 staffing shortage, and best practices in human capital management.