Collaborate with HR for better recruitment

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It’s no secret that hiring is a priority for school districts right now. From school bus drivers to classroom teachers, plenty of open positions need to be filled in many districts — and it’s not always an easy process for districts or job seekers. With the right team and plan in place, districts can put their best foot forward to attract the right applicants.

Think like a job seeker

The Employment page

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One of the first impressions a job seeker will have about your district will be on your Employment page. Look at this page from the perspective of someone who’s seeing it for the first time. 

  • Is it easy to find information about available positions? 
  • Is it mobile-friendly?
  • Is the information on the page up-to-date? 
  • Is it organized in a logical way?

Minimize the number of clicks a job seeker has to execute to get to the job application or description. The following information should be front and center:  

  • Hours (not just “part-time”) 
  • Required qualifications
  • Pay range

Consider, too, that job seekers outside the education field may not be familiar with distinctions such as classified and non-classified positions, or what it means to be a “10-month employee.” Where possible, use plain language and provide clear, concise information about each job or job classification.  

A note about wages and salaries

Wage information can be presented in a lot of different ways, and it may vary depending on the position, and whether it is salaried or hourly. Communications and human resources should work together to ensure that the information is presented in compliance with any legal requirements for salary transparency. 

Beginning in September 2023, all employers in New York State with four or more employees will be required to provide “the minimum and maximum annual salary or hourly range of compensation” for any job posting, per legislation signed by the governor in December 2022. Counties and other municipalities may have separate salary transparency requirements. 

Be sure that salary information is clearly and readily available alongside the initial information job seekers will see about the position, rather than requiring them to click through to a lengthier document or job description to learn more. 

Job applications

Once someone has found a job opening they’re interested in, consider what their experience will be like as they try to take the next steps. 

  • Is the job application process easy to understand and follow? 
  • Is the application form clear and easy to read and complete? 
  • Is it clear whom to contact with questions? 

“For more information …” 

Many times, employers have so many open positions that they may share a message such as, “We’re hiring bus drivers, substitute teachers and lunch aides. Call us today to learn more!” While there’s nothing wrong with inviting people to call for more information, many job seekers may be unwilling or unable to make the initial outreach by phone during the school day, for a variety of reasons. 

To increase your pool of potential applications, consider the following alternatives to “call us today”: 

  • Include an email address: Many people will be more willing to send an email rather than pick up the phone to make a cold call. This option may also be more convenient for people who are working during the day and can’t get away to make a phone call during business hours. 
  • Create a simple online form: Invite job seekers to fill out a simple form with their name, contact details, and any other basic information that may help Human Resources screen potential applications for one position or another. Consider responding to applicants with information that is tailored to their interests. For example, if the job seeker checked the checkbox for “Bus driver,” email them the bus driver application directly with more information about that position.
  • Host an open house or walk-in hiring event:  One of the challenging aspects of applying for a job can be all the back-and-forth between the job seeker and the employer. Hosting an event can give job seekers the opportunity to learn about multiple employment opportunities at once, ask questions, and have the chance to complete necessary paperwork. This requires a lot more planning and preparation than creating a simple online form — but the return on investment may be just as great. 

Case study: Walk-in Wednesdays

For the past few years, Capital Region BOCES hosts monthly “Walk-In Wednesdays” (WIW), inviting prospective teaching assistants (TA) to meet with human resources representatives and school administrators for in-person conversations and interviews. The in-person event helped showcase the fact that successful TAs can come from different backgrounds.

Since 2021, more than 41 candidates have been hired as a direct result of Walk-In Wednesday recruitment events, which accounts for nearly half of all TA new hires.

“Although some days are better attended than others, the WIW initiative has overall been quite successful,” said Caralee Kardash, director of special education. 

Recruitment and promoting

Target your messages

When we think about recruitment, our thoughts might to go websites, social media, or Help Wanted ads. But one of the most powerful recruitment tools any school district has is its own workforce. Your employees are walking, talking billboards who advertise what they think about their employer everywhere they go. 

What they think, feel and experience about working for the district is the reality of what it’s like to work there. How would employees describe the culture of the district? What do people love about their jobs?  

One of the most powerful recruitment tools any school district has is its own workforce.

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, why not ask? An employee focus group can help you build a better picture of why someone might choose your district, or a specific career path. Consider asking employees in a specific job title: 

  • why they chose this job in particular; 
  • how they found out about the job opening; 
  • what they are proud of or excited about. 

The answers to these questions can help you target your “Help Wanted” messages much more effectively. For example, if you learned that bus drivers consider their job a good secondary income in addition to other employment, you can emphasize those points in messages to job seekers. 

Promoting your district’s strengths 

Once you have a smooth process in place to welcome job seekers, you’re ready to recruit and promote. Thinking beyond the Employment page, consider the following questions as you review your school district website and social media accounts: 

  • Are we painting a welcoming and accurate picture of what life in this district is like?
    • Can job seekers see themselves represented here? 
    • Does this look like a welcoming place to live and work?
  • Do the language and images that are shared reflect the district’s culture and values?
    • What assumptions might someone make about the district? Are those assumptions accurate? 
  • What questions might a prospective employee have after visiting our website or seeing our social media accounts?
    • How could we answer those questions? 

Messages that showcase the experiences of your employees can be powerful “soft” recruitment tools. From Employee of the Month recognitions to spotlights on new teachers, there are many ways school districts can tell positive stories about what it’s like to work there. 

Invest wisely  

Recruitment happens on a lot of different platforms. From LinkedIn to the local paper, school districts have a variety of options when it comes to promoting open positions. But how do you know which of these tactics are effective, and which ones might be a waste of time?

Many employers track this information by asking candidates, either on their job application or during a screening interview, where they learned about the position. Collecting this information, tracking it throughout the hiring process, and reviewing it periodically, can help districts learn which recruitment tactics are doing the most to bring in the right candidates. 

Once you have an idea where the district is getting the most bang for its proverbial buck, look for ways to double down in that area. For example, if you found that most of your bus drivers heard about job opportunities through word of mouth, you might consider giving your drivers palm cards to hand out, or making sure they’re notified when new job openings are posted.   

Be cautious about where you share job postings, and be sure that the channels you choose align to the district’s broader vision for communications. If audiences are used to seeing heartfelt stories on your social channels, a “Help Wanted” post may appear out of place.  

The bottom line 

Attracting the right candidates can be a challenge for any school district. By partnering with human resources, school communications professionals can help highlight your district’s strengths, and make the process as smooth and user-friendly as possible for job seekers.