There’s no denying the current teacher shortage in the United States, but strong applicants are stills available for recruitment. The key is knowing how to recruit teachers by both making your school more appealing to longtime teachers and attracting newly graduating talent.
With more online outreach opportunities available than ever before, it’s possible to bolster your school with strong teachers who will help your students thrive. This guide will walk you through that process, highlighting tips on recruiting teachers and eight strategies you can implement today.
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Benefits of the new teacher talent pool
One benefit of many teachers currently leaving their positions is that the talent pool for new teachers is larger — and more diverse — than it’s ever been. Online application technologies and job boards mean that you can have applicants from all over the world rather than just from within your community.
Schools willing to go the extra mile and use new recruitment strategies can come out the other side of this teacher shortage with stronger, more capable teachers than before the pandemic.
Tips for how to recruit and retain teachers
Before you can begin implementing teacher recruitment strategies, it’s important to understand some high-level tips you can use to attract good teachers to your school and to retain the teachers you have.
Keep in mind that teacher turnover costs schools thousands of dollars a year — money that could be used to fund student supplies or increase teacher salaries. By addressing turnover in your school district and ensuring teachers are more likely to stay once hired, you can offer the benefits and compensation necessary to attract new teachers as well.
Offer a competitive salary and benefits
One major reason for the current teacher shortage is that wages and benefits in the teaching industry aren’t comparable with other fields. Meanwhile, competitive wages and benefits are proven to be associated with reduced turnover rates and, as a result, lower high school dropout rates.
This means that improving the salaries and benefits your school offers goes above and beyond making your teachers happier. It has real consequences for your district and your students.
To offer higher salaries, you may need to reduce funding in other areas of your school. Another option is to increase fundraising in your community or use tools like AdoptaClassroom or DonorsChoose so that you can afford to fully fund supplies for your classrooms rather than putting that stress on your teachers’ shoulders.
Create a supportive working environment
Once teachers are in your school, the environment they teach in makes a big difference regarding whether they choose to stay or leave. The more support administrators can give their teachers the more likely they are to continue working with that school rather than leaving for a different school or leaving the teaching field entirely.
One major way to improve retention rates is by reducing the administrative duties teachers have to do throughout the day. 43 percent of teachers say that reducing paperwork, meetings, and hall duties would help schools retain more teachers.
Mentoring new teachers is also key to keeping those candidates happy and confident in their duties. Studies show that younger teachers are more likely to leave their jobs, especially if they feel training and mentoring have been lax.
Start the hiring process early
The earlier you can start the hiring process for the new school year, the better off you’ll be. Studies show that schools that begin hiring early receive more qualified applicants on average than schools that start hiring later in the year.
Recruiting teachers on an earlier-than-your-usual timeline may require reworking your hiring strategy. One option is to interview more senior teachers for internal transitions at the same time as you interview external applicants.
Not only does this move the hiring process along, but if you do make an internal transition, you may have a pool of qualified external candidates that you can refer to apply for your new internal vacancy.
Reduce technology use when managing applications
There is currently a disconnect between the number of applicants looking for work, the number of jobs available, and the number of people getting hired. In theory, there is a labor shortage, with many careers touting openings. At the same time, applicants may send out hundreds of applications without hearing back about any of them.
Although there are several reasons for this disconnect, one major factor is that companies allow technology to weed out candidates rather than looking through applications manually. This makes it easy to miss candidates with strong potential who don’t meet the “on-paper” requirements or applicants who aren’t suitable for one position in your school but might fit in another position.
For example, hiring technology might read that a candidate needs “five years of teaching experience” to apply for a job and weed out any newly-graduated teachers who don’t meet that criteria.
A human might read the same application and realize the candidate has a lot of potential when paired with a mentor for their first year — or may be a good fit for a teacher’s assistant or substitute teacher position.
Studies show that approximately 10 million workers are being left out of hiring discussions, often based on factors like gaps in their resumes or missing keywords in their applications. For example, some hospitals excluded every applicant who didn’t have the words “computer programming” in their resume, even though they were actually looking for candidates who could complete data entry.
The result of these findings is that, while it’s important to have a strategy for weeding through applications, you should be very careful before using technology as your only strategy. Instead, use technology sparingly — for example, just to weed out candidates who don’t meet mandatory educational background requirements — and begin your search early enough that you can sift through the rest of the applications manually to find the best candidates for your school’s openings.
8 strategies for how to recruit teachers
Once you’ve done everything in your power to improve your school environment and ensure you can retain the teachers you have, the next step is to know how to recruit teachers and attract them to your school. These eight strategies will teach you how to recruit teachers in today’s ever-changing, tech-savvy world.
1. Design great recruitment materials
Although much of today’s recruitment occurs online, a fair amount still happens in person. Recruitment materials, including pamphlets and fliers, can be used at teacher fairs or given to career advisors at local universities with graduating teachers.
Make sure your recruitment materials contain key information that potential applicants will need to learn more about your school, including your website and social media handles. Additionally, you can help your materials stand out by using strong images and clear, concise text.
2. Attend teacher job fairs
Teacher job fairs are a great place for you to network with teachers in your community who are actively searching for a job. They provide face-to-face interactions where you can greet teachers and get to know them a little bit before the applications start flowing in.
They also provide an opportunity for potential teachers to put a face to your school, so it’s important to put your best foot forward at these networking events. Come prepared with recruitment materials, a friendly smile, and even paper applications for current job openings.
3. Ask for referrals
Referrals from current or previous teachers, as well as from parents of children at your school, can show potential applicants what it’s like to work at your school and give them a sense of your school’s community before they apply.
You can use referrals on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, your school’s website, and even recruitment advertisements like Facebook Ads.
To get started, ask for referrals online via email or social media. You can incorporate this request into your typical newsletters or post the request on your social media pages. As referrals come in, you can use them to bolster your other recruitment materials and showcase them to encourage applicants to apply to your school over other schools in your district.
4. Be active on social media
Over and over again, teachers have shown that they stay at a school because they feel a real connection with the students. Your school’s social media efforts can foster that community connection between teachers, students, and parents even before the first day of school.
Having a strong social media presence with frequent updates, pictures of school activities, and tips for parents and teachers can show applicants how much you value your school’s environment and support their teaching efforts. It’s also a great way to help them envision themselves in your school well before your interview with them, and it can get them excited to apply for your openings.
5. Prioritize search engine optimization
When teachers are looking for the best school districts to work in, you want them to see your name front and center. Using search engine optimization (SEO) can help search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing understand your school’s webpage and increase your rankings on their search results pages. As a result, you’ll see more web traffic on your school’s site, and teachers looking for jobs will have an easier time knowing if there are openings at your school.
6. Create customized advertisements
Although SEO is key for increasing organic traffic to your site in the long term, if you currently have openings in your school, you need to increase traffic now. That’s where customized advertisements come in.
Tools like Google Ads can help you target specific demographics or people who are searching using specific terms — such as “teaching jobs in New York” — and lead them to your website ahead of competing websites. Using customized advertisements in tandem with a strong social media presence or strong referrals is a great way to improve the number and quality of applications for open positions in your school.
7. Use online job boards
Today, many job hunts begin and end online. Keeping up to date with the best job boards for teachers helps your applications reach teachers when they first start hunting for a new job.
Using these online job boards can help you reach teachers from all over the world, many of whom may be happy to relocate if they are impressed with your school and community. This is a pivotal way to attract good teachers who wouldn’t normally attend your local teacher job fair or see your website on their local search engine results.
8. Reach out to previous teachers
There are many reasons why a teacher might have left your district in the past. Perhaps they had a falling-out with an administrator, or maybe you couldn’t offer the benefits they needed at that time. If you had a strong teacher in the past, it’s a good idea to reach out to them with an email or letter, explaining any major changes to your compensation or administration.
While not all previous teachers may be interested in coming back to your school, they may have friends or relatives looking for a new opportunity. If you’ve loved working with them in the past, their recommendations can provide a fresh source of qualified applicants for your school.
How to recruit teachers and improve your retention today
Teacher recruitment and retention go hand in hand. The more you retain the talent you have, the more time you can put into recruiting talented, capable teachers for your open positions. Once you’ve invested time in retention, you can recruit new talent by using various online and offline tools to reach a broad pool of eligible candidates.
Get started today by reviewing your school’s salaries and finding ways to improve the wages and benefits you offer new and existing teachers in your school. Offering competitive wages is one of the best ways to attract strong applicants to your school and keep them in your district for years to come.