It’s no secret that the United States is facing a teacher shortage of mass proportions.
A nationally representative EducationWeek Research Center survey released in late 2021 highlighted that more than 75% of district leaders and principals said they were experiencing at least moderate staffing shortages in their school buildings.
15% said that their teacher shortages are “very severe”, while a further 25% percent said they’re “severe”. Only 5% of administrators said they weren’t experiencing any staffing shortages in their schools or districts.
COVID-19 certainly fueled the lack of new teachers entering the education sector and high rates of teacher turnover. However, the Learning Policy Institute says the reasons for teacher shortages are complex and predate the pandemic.
The solution, therefore, requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the factors contributing to this enduring problem.
So, what teacher recruitment strategies can you leverage to attract prospective teachers and retain qualified teachers?
In this guide, we’ll share the best tried-and-tested teacher recruitment strategies to not only help attract great teachers but to retain teachers as well. Our guide will also arm you with expert tips on how to continually improve your hiring processes to ensure you’re never short of talented candidates.
Where are teachers looking for teaching jobs?
In order to learn how to effectively recruit teachers, it’s important to understand where they tend to look for teaching jobs.
Teachers search the internet
Similar to other job seekers, both new teachers and current teachers typically search the internet for job opportunities.
And why wouldn’t they, when the internet is a one-stop-shop for job opportunities? Most employers post job openings on job boards and/or social media. We’ll run through how you can use these teacher recruitment strategies further below.
Teacher job fairs
Many teachers also attend teacher job fairs to learn more about entering the teaching profession and current open positions in their school district.
Teacher job fairs connect teachers with schools and educational institutions looking to recruit fresh faces. Unlike an open day held at a particular school, a job fair comprises many different educational institutions. Some are specific to the level of institution, such as a high school job fair, while others will be specific to the niche, such as a language school job fair.
How to build a teaching talent pool with teacher recruitment strategies
Whether you want to curb the teacher shortage in your institution or you’re simply on the lookout for more teacher candidates to have on your books, it’s useful to arm yourself with a range of teacher recruitment strategies. Below, we’ve highlighted the top teacher recruitment strategies to try out.
Reach out to soon-to-be or recent graduates in your local school districts
Reaching out to potential future teachers is a fantastic way to build a teaching talent pool.
You can initiate a targeted outreach campaign to connect with soon-to-be teachers who have nearly completed their undergraduate degrees to apply with you once they graduate.
Survey the teachers in your student teaching program. Do any of them possess the very teaching skills your school or educational institution values? Or maybe they demonstrate a great connection to your student population?
Share relevant teacher education resources that will help them to develop teachers skills that they will require to eventually join your workplace.
If you need to recruit more high school teachers, it’s also a good idea to identify high school students who demonstrate the qualities needed to be great teachers. For example, students enrolled in foreign language classes may possess the qualities to one day make an amazing foreign language teacher.
If the students you identify are open to learning more, arm them with information about teacher preparation programs and any relevant college scholarships.
Build relationships with substitute teachers
Establishing strong relationships with substitute teachers is one of the best ways to recruit teachers.
In fact, many substitute teachers wish to further their teaching careers, but don’t know how to. Others may not know the benefits of moving to a permanent role.
As such, you should explain how they can make the transition, as well as the benefits of doing so as part of your teacher recruitment strategies. For example, you can highlight data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics which shows that while the median annual wage of substitute teachers is $ 30,100, the median annual wage of a full-time high school teacher is $61,820.
It’s also worth building your relationships with support staff. They too may be interested in transitioning careers but are unsure where to begin. To support them to make the transition, provide them with information about alternative teacher certification programs and highlight the perks of switching careers.
Referrals from current and former teachers
In business, it’s often said that referrals are one of the best ways to recruit new employees. It’s no different in the education sector. Current and former teachers are an excellent source of referrals for potential teachers you could hire.
If you’d like to try this recruitment strategy out, simply ask your current teacher workforce if they know of any other teachers seeking work. You may wish to incentivize them to make referrals by offering a small referral bonus, gift card, or meal voucher.
Parents of your students may also have great referrals, so don’t be shy to reach out to them via your school newsletter or at your school assemblies.
It works the other way, too. Teachers and parents at your school can vouch for your school or educational institution to potential teachers. They know precisely what makes it so special, so encourage them to spread the word by writing a review on your Google My Business profile or social media channels.
Post on education-related job boards and local job boards
Education-related job boards and local job boards remain one of the most effective means of sourcing new teachers. By posting on these job boards, you’ll be able to showcase your job advertisement to hundreds, if not thousands, of potential applicants.
The particularly helpful thing about posting your vacancies on job boards is that they’re frequented by both local and interstate job seekers. If your job ad is enticing, you may even be able to convince some applicants for other states to relocate.
Consider creating a social media strategy for recruitment
You may not have given much thought to using social media to attract and source candidates, but many consider social media recruitment to be one of the most effective teacher recruitment strategies. After all, most of us are active on at least one social media channel, so it makes sense to use it to grow your talent pool.
Social media recruitment is the practice of using social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to find, attract, and hire new employees. If you’re wondering just how effective this recruitment strategy is, the Muse reports that 92% of companies are using social media for hiring and 73% have successfully hired using it.
To get social media recruitment right, you’ll need to create a social media strategy for recruitment before you start posting on all of your social channels. Check out our guide to social media recruitment if you need some tips to get started.
Attend a teaching job fair to connect with teacher candidates
Attending job fairs designed for teachers is another powerful recruitment strategy. As we mentioned above, many teachers visit them in the hopes of finding their dream job.
If your school or educational institution doesn’t have a presence at any of them, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to network and connect with prospective teachers who are actively seeking employment.
Unlike most online teacher recruitment strategies, these fairs provide you with the chance to meet qualified teachers face to face. These interactions can provide you with invaluable insights that you can refer back to in your application review stage.
It’s also a chance for teachers to learn more about your educational institution. Keep in mind that some teachers may be completely unfamiliar with your school, so take the time to explain key pieces of information such as your school ethos, structure, benefits package, and approach to teaching and learning.
Even those who have heard of your institution may have patchy knowledge of it. Worse still, they may have formed an unfavorable and inaccurate impression of it. Job fairs are therefore an amazing opportunity to clear up any misconceptions and really sell your institution to potential hires.
Alternatively, you could hold an open day at your school, so teachers can experience the joys of your school or educational institution first-hand.
How can you streamline the application process for teachers and beat the teacher shortage?
Even if your school or educational institution offers all of the bells and whistles to teachers, they won’t feel encouraged to apply to vacant positions if your application process is a headache. That’s why it’s vital to take steps to streamline your application process, as we explain below.
Gather hiring data to refine your hiring process
In order to be effective, any and all decisions about your hiring process need to be data-driven. For this reason, prioritize gathering both qualitative and quantitative data to inform your hiring process.
Survey the teachers in your district on pain points in the recruitment process
If you’re serious about improving your application process, you need to account for the experiences and views of the very people you’re trying to impress: teachers in your district.
To develop an understanding of what they really think, ask them to share their real thoughts on what works and what doesn’t. It’s particularly useful to gather insights about the pain points teachers in your district have encountered in the recruitment process.
Remember that not all teachers’ experiences will be the same. Diverse candidates are far more likely to have faced unique barriers in the recruitment process. For example, candidates from historically Black colleges may experience additional barriers in the recruitment process due to unconscious bias.
Gather hiring data for teachers at a broader level — both state-wide and nation-wide
It’s also helpful to gather hiring data for teachers more broadly, namely on a state and nationwide level. Unlike the method above, hiring data will arm you with the quantitative data you need to gain a full picture of the hiring problems that face the industry at large.
To access this information, refer to your state’s board of education or state education agency website, as well as the U.S. Department of Education website. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and industry publications will also have useful data for you to consider.
Use an ATS to keep track of applicants, build your talent pool, and maintain a record of impressive candidates
Find yourself overwhelmed by all of the administration that comes with hiring teachers? Using an applicant tracking system (ATS) will help to reduce your administrative burden.
An ATS will quickly prove its value once you see how easy it makes building your talent pool and keeping track of impressive candidates.
As its name indicates, an ATS is a software system designed to organize and refine your entire hiring process.
The most advanced ones will highlight and record top candidates that are worth paying attention to, so you can quickly source quality candidates whenever you have a position to fill.
There are many options to choose from, so read up on reviews of the best ATS tools to find the one that suits your hiring needs.
Incorporate skills assessments into the process
Skills assessments have been shown to bolster recruitment efforts in a variety of industries, including the education industry. When optimized and positioned correctly in the hiring process, they can help set your school apart in the way you recruit and retain your teachers.
Overview of skills assessments and where best to use them in the recruitment process
So what are skills assessments? Skills assessments are assessments given to candidates that test them on a range of skills directly relevant to the job they’re applying for. Using skills assessments in the hiring process empowers you to focus on a candidate’s ability over simply what they claim on a CV.
Skills-based hiring is considered the gold standard in recruiting because it promotes merit-based hiring. Ultimately, it empowers your school or educational institution to source the right hire for the job the first time around.
Main skills to hire for in teaching
There are specific soft and hard skills every teacher should possess, whether they are a middle school teacher, high school teacher, or any other type of teacher. According to The Balance Careers, key skills to hire for in teaching include:
- Setting boundaries
- Writing reports, instructions, and correspondence
- Emotional intelligence
- Creating assignments and exams
- Keeping and maintaining records
- Managing time in and out of the classroom
- Planning and preparing lessons
- Creating and maintaining a comfortable learning environment
- Managing student behavior
As you can see, teachers need to be highly-skilled professionals — and the skills mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg.
Of course, the skills you should base your skills-based hiring approach on will change depending on your learning institution’s particular needs. To start with, the type of learning institution you’re hiring for will impact the skills you require. For example, local universities will have vastly different hiring needs from a local high school.
In a similar vein, the skills teachers need in special education and high need schools will differ from those of regular schools. For instance, the need to hire highly skilled teachers in classroom management will typically be greater in high-need schools.
An easy way to determine which skills you should hire for is to create an ideal candidate profile. This will allow you to visualize your ideal candidate. Namely, which skills, qualities, experience, personality traits, and so on, they possess.
Refine your employee value proposition (EVP)
Compare teaching salaries to national and local standards
When it comes to improving teacher recruitment and teacher retention rates, increasing teacher salaries is without a doubt one of the most frequently mentioned solutions. The reason teachers compensation is such a hot topic when it comes to teacher recruitment is because teachers’ salaries are generally on the lower end of the scale.
If you want to entice new teachers into your hiring funnel, it’s critical to offer at least a comparable salary to national and local standards. To ensure your salary offer is in line with such standards, compare how the salaries in your educational institution stack up.
If yours are lower, consider raising them. Not only will doing so ensure your salaries abide by relevant labor laws, but you’ll also be able to keep up with the competition. Needless to say, if you have room to offer higher than average salaries, you’ll significantly increase your chances of curbing your teacher shortage.
Review your institution’s benefits package
Your school or educational institution’s benefits package is one of the greatest drawcards you have to attract job seekers. Also called an employee value proposition, it’s considered a key recruitment strategy for good reason: All employees want to feel like they are being justly compensated and recognized for their hard work.
If you’re finding it difficult to hire and retain staff, there’s a good chance your institution’s benefits package isn’t competitive or enticing enough.
If you’re unsure of what benefits to offer, look at the job ads of other institutions, such as high school tutoring centers, for inspiration. There, you will see what benefits they provide their teachers, and you can adjust your package accordingly.
The benefits you offer don’t need to be monetary, either. For example, you could provide access to teacher preparation programs run by teacher academies that focus on professional learning for high-need schools. Or your school may have a policy of pairing new teachers with various school leaders throughout the school year as part of a broader mentoring program.
When reviewing your benefits package, it’s important to consider the types of benefits offered to different positions. For instance, compare the benefits package of your senior director to your executive director. The difference should be clear so that there’s an incentive for those who wish to climb up the career ladder.
Communicate your employer brand
Many school districts fail to clearly convey the qualities that distinguish their school district from all others.
While this can be frustrating, it has an upside. If you are able to communicate your institution’s employer brand well, it won’t matter what your school district — or any other school districts for that matter — are doing.
So what is an employer brand?
An employer brand describes how your workplace is perceived by jobseekers, as well as your employees and stakeholders. Yours should be at the heart of all of your teacher recruitment strategies. Remember, teacher candidates will be looking to see what makes your educational institution worth joining.
For example, perhaps you offer mentoring programs for new teachers or other types of professional development opportunities. Maybe your school culture or school environment is truly unique, or the teaching methods you use are cutting-edge.
If you’re struggling to define what your employer brand is, ask your current teachers to share their thoughts.
Create a system of constant improvement
If you want to ensure you’re never left short-staffed and can efficiently fill your job openings with incredible teachers, you need to create a system of constant improvement.
Just as curriculums and lesson plans are tweaked for better student outcomes, your hiring processes need to be continually reviewed and optimized to improve hiring outcomes. Below, you’ll find some pointers for getting started.
Review your current hiring processes and set goals
In order to create a system of constant improvement, it’s crucial to review your current hiring process and set recruitment goals.
Review performance in key metrics like time-to-hire
A key part of refining your current hiring processes is understanding how effective — or ineffective — they are. You shouldn’t rely on guesswork to review your hiring processes. There are a variety of key metrics that will empower you with credible data and insights about how you go about hiring teachers.
While time to hire is a measurement of “the time from which a prospective hire applies to the moment they accept your job offer”, time to fill is “the interval between when your hiring process begins (when a job is posted or the day approval is given to fill a position) and when the candidate receives and accepts your offer”.
Another hiring metric to be mindful of is quality of hire. This metric measures “the value a new hire adds to an organization by assessing their contributions to its long-term success”.
Review pain points in the candidate experience
Remember how we covered surveying teachers about pain points in the recruitment process? Gathering the data is only the first part of the equation. It’s vital to review the responses and devise solutions to the pain points before you start sourcing and interviewing candidates.
Identify ways to improve these metrics
Once you’ve crunched the numbers and pinpointed where your school or educational institution stands on key hiring metrics, you can identify ways to improve them.
Again, this shouldn’t be based on guesswork. There are tried-and-tested best practices that can help you improve these metrics. For example, best practice dictates that methods like skills testing and artificial intelligence can be used to improve quality of hire.
Settle on goals for these metrics and a strategy to move forward
Now that you know what you need to improve and how you’re going to go about it, it’s time to set goals and create a robust strategy for hiring teachers.
You don’t need to go about this alone. Consult and actively involve your team, executives, and, of course, your teaching staff.
It’s also crucial to make use of industry-leading recruitment tools, like Vervoe, to set yourself up for data-driven hiring success.
And finally, be open to making modifications to your recruitment strategy along the way as you gather more insights and data.
Due to a worldwide teacher shortage, many school districts are finding it increasingly challenging to recruit new teachers. If your efforts to hire — let alone retain — teachers have been unsuccessful so far, don’t give up.
The process of recruiting teachers is far from rocket science. It simply comes down to leveraging the most effective teacher recruitment strategies.
As this guide demonstrates, there are many strategies you can employ to make the process of hiring quality teachers smoother. They can be used by both private and public schools and institutions in all kinds of school districts.
So if you are a principal, business owner, or assistant superintendent looking to expand your teaching workforce, you can feel reassured that the job seekers will come — as long as you get your teacher recruitment strategies in order.