Equity & Diversity Opinion

Going Big: Teacher Recruiting Goes National

By Emily Douglas-McNab — March 02, 2015 6 min read
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While headhunting firms hired to find executive leadership for districts often post open positions on national websites, rarely do districts take this approach to find teacher candidates. That is, until last year when an ad in a North Carolina newspaper made national headlines. Why? Because it was a district from Texas, calling for teachers in North Carolina to come to their state.

Working with educators in both North Carolina and in Texas at the time, the reactions I heard from people from each state were very interesting. North Carolinians expressed frustration around the fact that the starting salary noted in the ad was significantly above the starting salary of many districts in their state.

Texas educators expressed a different opinion - simply put, they need great talent and have the ability to pay more. As one teacher told me, it’s ‘simple economics.’ Likewise, an HR Director mentioned that he needed great teachers for the kids and that he wasn’t there to “be friendly” with other districts anymore.

(Photo taken by North Carolina Representative Graig Meyer and posted on his Facebook account. Used with permission of Rep. G. Meyer.)

Have we entered a new era of teacher recruitment? Maybe so, given that many districts and states are currently experiencing shortages in talent. In several of the districts I have worked with over the past six years, the topic has moved from a concern to an emergency. And, states like Oklahoma have established special tasks forces to research and address the issue.

On the other hand, questions remain about the ability national recruitment efforts to attract enough teachers to meet districts’ demand. While some say that millennials are willing to uproot and move for job opportunities, other researchers like Boyd, Lankford, Loeb, and Wyckoff (2005) found that between 1999 and 2002, 85 percent of entering New York teachers taught within 40 miles of their hometown, and 60 percent taught within 15 miles.

Despite these concerns, districts facing the threat of beginning the new school year without the teachers and school leaders they need are reaching beyond their traditional market and advertising to a broader audience what they have to offer. While some may consider this an assault on the unspoken rule of “collaboration, not competition” in public education, others feel it is time to break the traditional belief system and look for talent that best meets students’ needs.

For those who wish to break with tradition for whatever reason, here are a few options for seeking education talent nationally:

1. Newspaper Postings Outside of Your City, State, or Region: Similar to the picture you see above, districts are using this method to reach out to locations outside of their traditional hiring region.

2. Niche National Job Boards: There are many niche job boards that can be used to post open positions in your organization that you are having trouble filling and/or when you are looking for a candidate nationally. Job boards are found most frequently on professional organization websites, and focus on a position, organization type, geographic region, and/or target group/population. I would suggest staying away from general or large-scale job boards that cater to all industries like Monster® and sticking with ones that are specific to education like TopSchoolJobs, or the following:

      • Position-focused: The National Association of Secondary School Principals has a Career Center on its website where districts post open school leader positions. The American Association of School Personnel Administrators website has a Career Center where organizations can post open positions, the majority of these jobs are for Chief roles or HR-related jobs. Another example is the job board the School Superintendents Association has on its website where many jobs posted are for cabinet positions. Teacher postings can be seen on sites like SchoolSpring or specialist positions on the Careers page through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
      • Region-focused: Example of geographic region postings (some are also position-focused) include ones you would see on the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators jobs board. These roles are geographically located in Texas but are also HR/School Leadership-focused. Another example would be Georgia’s TeachGeorgia website where district jobs--from Academic Coach to Young Farming Teacher--can be found.
      • District Type-focused: Other organizations with job boards include the Council of Greater City Schools where only members of the council can post, or the Bureau of Indian Education for Bureau schools.
      • Target Population/Group-focused: Posting positions on websites geared towards specific protected individuals is another option when it comes to recruiting talent. For example, GettingHired is a site specifically for “empowering individuals with disabilities.” MilitaryHire.com or RecruitMilitary.com can be used to post jobs and get connected with American veterans. The National Association for Bilingual Education even has a job board where districts are posting jobs for bilingual educators, and the National Congress for American Indians has “job opportunities submitted by employers that are American Indian, Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native businesses, governments, or organizations. The list also includes opportunities submitted by businesses, governments, or organizations seeking Native American applicants.”

3. Virtual Job Fairs: Online job fairs are gaining traction in a variety of industries as more organizations look at how they spend money, and people of all ages increase their internet access and usage. Virtual fairs allow organizations to save money on travel and lodging, printing, and shipping. For the past two years TopSchoolJobs has hosted a “Virtual Career eXPO” where district representatives can meet candidates from across the country. This year, districts like Kanawha County Schools in West Virginia, Boston Public Schools, Fresno Unified School District, and Birmingham City Schools, as well as organizations like TurnAround and Edvectus will be using the opportunity to look for candidates. If you’re interested in finding a job or you are looking for candidates, note that the next eXPO is THIS week!

4. Social Media:

    • LinkedIn: When I first started working in education, there were few education professionals on LinkedIn. In the past year, this has dramatically changed. In addition to posting jobs on the job board, employers can join various groups and post opportunities in their newsfeeds.
    • Twitter: More organizations are using Twitter as a place to recruit people into all roles! Between tweeting job announcements daily and/or following teacher and/or education leaders and approaching them to consider roles, Twitter is becoming more popular for education recruiting. Some organizations are using special Twitter accounts to promote openings such as @AASAjobs while others are using hashtags when posting education positions such as #career, #job, #edjob, #educationjobs, #teacherjobs, #K12jobs, #K12Talent. Using hashtags on Twitter (even if they feel generic) may get your post more views.
    • Facebook: Facebook allow you to specifically target posts and ads to certain locations, ages, genders, languages, interests, behaviors, income levels, and more. These types of ads are being used for many things-- not just job postings. Yet, I see districts using targeted ads to reach geographic populations to which they normally would not have access.

The list above is meant to provide examples of possible recruiting options; it is not exhaustive. I would recommend diversify your recruiting tactic by using different methods and targeting different groups. Prior to exploring these possibilities, it is important to ensure you know your budget, have discussed your HR brand, and have created even a brief strategic recruiting plan. Recruiting can become costly quickly, so make sure you collect data to be able to justify spending as well as source how effective the candidates you pull in from locations outside your market really are. Further, if you have a legal question, you should always contact your legal counsel for advice.

Happy hunting!

The opinions expressed in K-12 Talent Manager are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.