Still Not Fully Staffed? Here are the Three Simple Reasons
By Jacqueline Gordon
As we continue our research with principals into their experiences with the growing teacher shortage, I am somewhat surprised at the numbers that are still interviewing to fill open positions.
Having worked with and observed numerous schools/districts over the last 10 years, the reasons why are both simple and obvious. Well, obvious to a professional recruiter.
Know What Your Problem Is
It starts by identifying whether you have a recruiting problem or a retention issue. Doing this isn’t rocket science but it does require you look at information that in the past schools saw little to no value in. I asked the director of a state HR organization if they tracked which new teachers from what colleges and universities in his state had the greatest retention rates. “We always thought that might be a good idea, but we’ve never gotten around to doing so,” was his reply. With fewer educators entering the market, finding them is merely step one. Keeping them is the goal.
Know What the Solution Is
There is not a one-size-fits-all solution regardless of what your problem is. Universal are the two reasons that people look to make a move. They move to learn a new skill and/or to gain a new level of responsibility. Money is often the excuse, not the reason until we get into the five figure territory. Even the issue of money can be solved with a dynamic value proposition.
Do It A Different Way
Recently we have been conducting some research with building principals. When a position goes unfilled, with the exception of very small school districts, it’s not the superintendent or HR that must deal with it, but the principal, the building staff and ultimately the students. What we found is for 95 percent of those with whom we spoke, there has been a significant drop in both the quantity and the quality of applicants applying for their open positions in the last 3 years. We heard of positions going unfilled for over a year with zero people applying for them. Two weeks before the start of school, there were principals still trying to hire a kindergarten teacher. Literally no one knew of the states for which there are reciprocity agreements in place. Those who were getting out of state candidates could not get them hired because it was up to the candidate to bear the cost of relocating. All pointed to money and benefits being used as their primary recruiting tool. Not one had developed a value proposition. A full 90 percent were posting generic job openings believing it was about getting more people to apply. Of those postings, 90 percent were focused on what they wanted from a candidate, leaving just 10 percent for what they had to offer. The time frame from post to hire varied from 2 weeks to 2 months. They spoke of teachers accepting counter offers from their current employers or just not showing up on the first day. While job fairs have long been a staple of school hiring, at a job fair this spring there were in excess of 200 districts looking to hire and less than 125 candidates who showed up.
As a side note, there are always things that come as a surprise to us when we do research. This time, the surprise was the number of principals who were new to the position or those schools who still lacked a building leader. At this point in our research, it’s running at 18 percent in this one state.
There is a marked difference between what HR does and what recruiting does. HR is all about process. Recruiting is all about results. HR is about getting someone hired on. Recruiting is all about finding the right person for that position and increasing retention. HR is about getting you in and started. Recruiting gives a candidate not simply a reason to start, but more importantly, a reason to stay. Process many times gets in the way of results.
About the Author
Jacqueline Gordon is a Human Capital Management Solutions Provider for K-12 Schools at E Squared, moving schools and school districts from a passive to an active model. E Squared – Effective Educators, was initially started to help school districts staff shortage areas. It soon became obvious that schools fail because they fail to put the right person in the position of leadership.
Ms. Gordon works with K-12 schools in the US helping the find the leaders they need to succeed. Internationally she represents the largest private education group in China, with 12 schools and 45,000 students.
This article was originally published by The Learning Counsel, a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.