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How to attract and retain the best talent for jobs in education

If you want to ensure that your school, college or university is in the best possible position to hire great teachers and lecturers then keep reading, as this is the perfect article for you.

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There is growing competition between educational establishments for the teaching talent that is available today, particularly in the subject areas of, but not limited to, Mathematics, Physics and Biology (The Guardian); and with the number of students in secondary education expected to increase by 800,000 by the next decade, competition to hire the available talent is going to increase dramatically.

The situation with the teaching talent shortage spans a lot further than just the obvious bums-on-seats problem as well. John Hawson from the Oxford University suggested that with there being a shortage of teachers now, then by the end of the decade it could be the quality of the education provided that also suffers.

So what are you currently doing that might be preventing you from recruiting the best of the teaching talent that is available today?

There are many reasons that your ideal teaching employee is moving towards a career with other local educational establishments, some are obvious, such as size of the establishment, reputation or even salary, but what about when you lose out on a potential employee who had expressed a level of interest in working for you, only for them to then take a position elsewhere?

The cause of this can be boiled down to two simple reasons; Time and Human Nature. I’ll explain.

You can safely assume that when a teacher or lecturer is applying for a new role, they are going to apply to a number of establishments so not to ‘put all their eggs in one basket’, so to speak.

So where does time or human nature come into this?

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A lengthy sorting process increases your response time

Once the teacher or lecturer (applicant) has applied to your vacancy, plus any others that they deem suitable opportunities, they begin a waiting game to discover their success or failure during the first part of the recruitment process. Having a largely manual CV sorting process can cause long delays in responding to the applicants (some establishments won’t even begin the sorting process until the entry date has closed); if the other establishments have a system in place that allows them to react to applications in real-time, their response rate will be much faster, and you run the risk of the applicant being much further down the line in the recruitment process with another establishment by the time you even get the CV passed over your desk.

It’s Human Nature to take the easiest route

Application forms for jobs in the education arena are notoriously longer and require more detail than for your usual corporate or SME employer, possibly due to the requirement for background checks and ensuring the safety of the students, on top of ensuring their experience is a good match for the job that they are applying for.

Having to download, print and complete by hand (or even with Microsoft Word) this lengthy form can be enough effort, but to then have to print it and post it off by hand only adds to the frustrations that many of us haven’t had to deal with since the early 2000’s. With an increasing number of job hunters using the internet to source positions, it’s easy to find a range of positions at various establishments very quickly, and when faced with an all-online application form that can be completed on a mobile device, tablet or laptop, compared to the requirements of a manual process that needs downloading and/ or printing, it’s human nature to take the easiest route.

It’s important to  be able to report or provide feedback in a timely manner

It’s important to know the problem areas that are causing some establishments to miss out on great teaching staff, but what is more important is to be able to find out and report on those areas within your own establishment to determine whether or not they are problem areas for you. The classic “We’ve always done it this way” response is the biggest reason these problems remain within many educational establishments today.

Having a manual process can make it very difficult to report on and track a selection criteria as documentation and files tend to be stored in a number of places, whether in files on computers or in filing cabinets, a disjointed reporting process is unavoidable. It is important to have a consistent, digital and recorded process that allows for collaboration between hiring managers and HR so to centralise all data for each applicant in every campaign, not only for performance records, but also for when unsuccessful applicants want accurate and relevant feedback as to why they were not selected; inability to do this effectively could lead towards poor reviews which can damage your employer brand.

In Summary

As competition increases for qualified educational staff, it is imperative that you make it as easy as possible for applicants to express interest in your establishment’s career opportunities, whether that is through finding your vacancies, applying for them or working their way through your hiring process; failure to do this will undoubtedly result in an increased dropout rate.

If you can provide a streamlined, flexible and well-communicated recruitment process that utilises the digital and social tools available today, then not only will you be more visible to the best teachers and lecturers on the market, but you will be in a position to manage them through your recruitment process in less time, with less effort and for less money.

If you are considering a digital recruitment solution for you educational establishment, you need to ensure that the product you choose is designed with your sector’s specific requirements in mind. Make sure you create or go through a check list of your individual needs and also look at what other establishments are using.

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Jay Staniforth

Jason has 5+ years' experience at Management level in Marketing and has worked across a range of sectors, including fashion, luxury vehicles, office equipment and software. With a BSc in Psychology, he takes an interesting angle with much of his work and has a great ability to focus on the value-add to the user in his writing.

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