8 Effective Strategies to Recruit Teachers This Spring

It’s hunting season for school administrators. Typically when you think of hunting season you think of the colors of autumn and the cool crisp air of fall. For school administrators though, hunting season begins in the early spring when college students are graduating from teacher education programs, and experienced teachers can be wooed to your district before new contracts are signed.

Let’s stay with this analogy of hunting and recruiting teachers for a moment. Over the past 50 years the sport of hunting has evolved and changed utilizing every advantage imaginable from the clothing, weapons, game calls, scent block, and a multitude of technological tools ranging from cameras to mobile apps. Meanwhile, the demand for effective teachers has never been higher, yet districts operate without any modern strategies to recruit effective teachers beyond replacing job postings from bulletin boards in the teachers’ lounge and local colleges to district websites. Effective teacher talent acquisition should be one of the largest priorities of any school district. Without formal teacher recruitment strategies there is no real direction for evaluating successful recruiting pipelines, managing the message you convey to potential applicants, and quickly identifying teachers who have the ability to help your district pivot in this new era of education. If your teacher recruitment strategies are as modern as the mimeograph, these teacher recruitment strategies may be useful for you.

1. The essential first step of recruiting is first knowing who you are. What are the core values of your district? It is substantially easier to recruit and identify candidates who will be a good fit for your district if you share the same values and vision. Do the core values of your district really influence the everyday decisions made throughout the district and are they job related? If so, share those values on your job postings page and advertisements for open positions. Doing so will allow potential applicants to identify with your district and its vision. Consider using teacher hiring tools that are able to identify candidates whose values fit the values of your school district. Millennials are entering the teaching ranks and research has shown they are not solely focused on jobs that pay the most. This new generation of workers are looking for a higher purpose in what they do. Inspire them by sharing your values and purpose.

2. Tell your story. Interested teacher applicants want to know more about the district they may work for. Put together a slideshow or video that shares your district’s culture on your district’s employment web page. Share your district’s earliest beginnings, struggles, triumphs, and major milestones. Finally share your vision for the future and how the potential applicant can help take you there. Teacher applicants who perceive they are a good fit for your district are more likely to be drawn to your school if they personally identify with it.

3. Set up a lightning rod event in your district. So what is a lightning rod event? Career fairs are a perfect example of a lightning rod event. At these events job seekers all converge to one location in efforts to find a potential employer. However, for those recruiting at job fairs, there are a few issues with these types of venues. The first issue is competition. Job fairs are full of other school districts that are vying for the same teachers. Your school district has to compete attention among many other school districts.

Instead, you may consider hosting your own venue. Do this before job fairs ever start (think early February and don’t forget about fall semester graduations). When new teachers are graduating college they are often short on supplies and practical knowledge. Consider asking teachers in your building to pool unused supplies, books, and materials to share with new teachers, or ask community businesses to help donate supplies. School districts could provide workshops, led by existing teachers, to help instruct new teachers with valuable skills such as classroom management skills, lesson planning, technology training and planning for the first day of school. Advertise these types of events at nearby colleges and through social media. Collect personal email addresses from those who actually show up. Try to avoid collecting college email addresses since those will likely expire when the student graduates. When teachers self-select to attend an event and you have provided them with valuable tools and resources, you have already entered into a relationship with them. Later you can use their email addresses to directly recruit/market open positions. This type of permission marketing (recruiting) can be very effective.

4. Use effective teachers and administrators as ambassadors/recruiters. Great education professionals often have opportunities to present to large groups of effective teachers. Make sure that anytime teachers, principals, or superintendents are representing your school at a large venue where other schools are gathered they take a moment to tell the district’s story and share a little bit of the district’s culture. When other teachers (and possibly administrators) see some of the best and brightest of your district their interest in the district can be piqued. Before attending the event or your district IT group to set up a landing page (an informational webpage that collects user information) to thank attendees for their interest in your district. Ask them to share their contact information so you can let them know about future openings and initiatives in the district. Use an auto responder online mail service to collect email addresses. This will allow you to broadcast messages to a group of potential future teachers and administrators. The auto responder sites can show you how many people see your message and are interacting with the material. To make finding the web site landing page easy and less intrusive at a conference event, put the link to your landing page on a QR code in your presentation or on brochures that are distributed at the event. This is an easy and effective way to recruit to large gatherings of effective teachers and another direct marketing/recruiting strategy that is substantially more effective than simply posting an open position to the masses.

5. Headhunting is the practice of actively recruiting an effective member of one organization to join a different organization. It is common in many different sectors, especially in business, but has not become a common practice in education… yet. Effective school districts search for creative ways to recruit teachers every year and often struggle to find high quality job candidates among the crop of recent college grads and job seeking veterans. Some school districts try to lure experienced teachers from nearby districts by promising better working conditions, higher pay, and better benefits. As a result, schools with fewer financial resources sometimes struggle to retain their most effective teachers. As districts feel more pressure to produce higher scores the competition for effective teachers will continue to increase. Most administrators have mixed feelings about this new environment of education, but it is a reality that must be considered as recruiting and retention strategies are developed.

6. Provide realistic job previews through online videos and interviews with teachers from all demographics on the employment page on your district’s website. Many applicants are curious about the working conditions, co-workers, student population, and general climate of the district. Select newer teachers and veteran teachers to discuss their experiences while working for the district. If possible, try to feature a diverse group of education professionals. Applicants will likely feel more comfortable when they see incumbents who are similar to their ethnic background. When applicants have a chance to preview the climate of their workplace it is likely they will try to envision themselves working there. If they perceive they are a good fit, you are likely to have a more committed applicant.

7. Consider using a referral program. Did you know referrals are one of the top sources of new hire quality in any industry? Your existing effective teachers likely know other effective teachers that work for other districts. This goes back to teacher recruiting strategy #3. You may be attempting to lure teachers from other districts, but it’s for the kids. Right? Some employers even offer rewards to employees when their referrals pass through selection processes and receive high initial scores. You can also gather referrals from parent teacher groups and local colleges (though I don’t know that incentives would be appropriate in those cases).

8. Use social media. Most districts have adopted the use of social media to interact with the patrons of the district. Consider sharing job postings on social media pages. Patrons may not look at school district employment web pages, but posting openings on social media sites could allow people to share your open positions with others in their network. Generally, school districts should try to cast a wide net when fishing for new talent. Posting on social media sites allows districts to broadcast openings to a much broader audience.

We hope you found a few of these teacher recruiting strategies useful. In an era of teaching that is constantly pushing teachers out of their comfort zones to become more effective teachers, it is time for school leaders to follow suit in their recruiting and selection practices. If any of the teacher recruiting strategies we mentioned in this post stretch you out of your comfort zone, use the link below to contact us and we will do everything we can to help you put together a teacher recruiting and selection strategy that will attract effective teachers to your school district. If the goal of your district revolves around providing high quality instruction to prepare students for their future, develop high quality strategies to recruit the best teachers in your market.