Improving the Teacher Recruitment Process
This article originally appeared on the PowerSchool blog as “Improving the Teacher Recruitment Process.” It features insights from some of the latest education studies and statistics, including PowerSchool’s own research. We publish it here as a guest post for AASPA blog readers, courtesy of PowerSchool.
Teacher recruitment directly impacts student success. Nurturing, inspiring, and supporting student learning depends heavily on skilled and dedicated educators leading classrooms. But recruiting teachers during a nationwide shortage isn’t easy.
Schools and districts can’t wait for teachers to find them and apply. Recruiting requires action. Providing students with highly effective teachers calls for a combination of proven recruitment strategies supported by the right K-12 HR edtech. Additionally, boosting teacher retention increases your teaching staff's experience and effectiveness. This helps new hires get the mentoring and support they need to
In this blog, we’ll discuss the challenges of recruiting more teachers, strategies to succeed, and how to
retain more teachers in the long run.
How the Nationwide Teacher Shortage Challenges K-12 Recruiters
More than 36,000 K-12 teaching positions in the U.S. remained vacant at the start of the 2022/23 school year, according to an Annenberg Institute research report. The report also estimates that at least 163,000 occupied teaching positions were held at the same time by underqualified educators. Schools and districts struggle to find enough teachers, and competition is tough for top candidates. It’s a tough
reality felt nationwide, especially by K-12 HR leaders.
While the teacher shortage isn’t new, data suggests that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have only made things worse. In March of 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that nearly half (44%) of public schools reported teaching vacancies—and 61% of those attributed struggles to fill both teaching and non-teaching jobs to the pandemic.
Part of the shortage is generational. Baby boomers continue to retire as new teacher certifications dwindle. Pew Research shows that more than 105,000 education bachelor’s degrees were earned in the 2000/01 school year—about 8% of total undergraduate degrees that year. Since then, the number of new teacher graduates consistently declined. From 2008-09 to 2016, the U.S. saw a 15.4% decline in
total degrees awarded in education. For the 2019/20 school year, the last for which Pew has data on teacher bachelor degrees, 85,057 were earned. That accounts for just 4% of the two million total earned.
Steadily decreasing numbers of new teaching candidates entering the profession suggest many choose to pursue other careers before they even get started in teaching. In our survey of educators for the 2022 PowerSchool Education Focus Report: Top District Priorities and Shifts in PK-12 Education school and district leaders listed “a less stressful work environment” as the leading factor luring teachers away from the profession. Higher compensation and a more manageable workload followed. School closures, tense school board meetings, and other news stories over the past two years spotlighted how the global pandemic increased stress on teachers. With these hits to a career in education’s reputation, it’s more
important than ever to step up recruiting efforts to reach more potential educators and entice them to choose teaching.
With fewer potential teachers entering the job market, schools and districts must compete to hire high-quality candidates. Staying ahead of the curve is tough, but a solid strategy, supported by the right technology, can give your district the edge over your neighbors when it comes to finding, hiring, and retaining the teachers your students deserve with an improved teacher recruiting process.
Teacher recruitment strategies during a shortage
Recruiting teachers starts as a numbers game. You need to reach as many potential candidates as possible without overburdening staff by creating and posting open positions all day. The obvious strategy here is using a high-volume job board specific to K-12. This way, a single post reaches thousands of job seekers. Some job boards can extend your reach further by connecting with your social media
Another smart tactic schools use is working with local colleges to speak directly with soon-to-graduate teachers. This could mean attending career fairs or sending an ambassador from your school or district to speak to a class about securing their first teaching job. Relationships are key here, so you’ll want to choose an ambassador (or ambassadors) who most positively reflect your organization’s values. Creative thinking and smart use of resources can help you succeed, even when facing steep competition
from neighboring districts.
Streamline teacher recruiting and hiring with online applications and video interviews
Fast and easy-to-navigate processes, from application to job offer, always outshines a clunky, disjointed experience. Research about hiring shows that if it takes more than 30 days to make an offer, candidates are 66% more likely to reject it.
It starts with applications. Retiring baby boomers and Generation Xers will be replaced by millennials and zennials who expect an easy, online process. Taking applications online also allows candidates to apply from anywhere. Applicants should also be able to save their progress at any time during the process if they need to look for necessary documentation or stop to take care of an urgent matter.
Video interviews offer another way to speed up your process and make the experience easier for applicants. Scheduling is typically easier since both the applicant and the interviewer can attend from anywhere, even while working remotely. You can also interview candidates who do not yet live in your area, eliminating the need to travel. For an easier shift to video interviews, consider starting with a one-way video interview platform.
The current teacher shortage means most applicants have choices. If your process is too complicated, they’ll prioritize other districts and may (or may not) come back to yours later.
Keep teaching applicants in the loop
Automating applicant communications can keep quality candidates from falling through the cracks. You need to make sure they know if their application was accepted, when to expect an interview call, and who to contact if they have any questions. Most importantly, you want to make sure your school or district stays front of mind since many applicants have also applied elsewhere. Connecting with applicants on values like student success, teacher and staff well-being, and a strong community can put you ahead of the competition.
Screen candidates to identify those most suited to your school or district
With fewer teachers available to fill open positions, every hiring decision counts. Identifying quality educators is key, but you also need to choose those most likely to succeed in your school or district. For example, you can prioritize the recruitment of tech-savvy teachers with experience aligned with teaching in a virtual environment. Administrators and HR staff should align on staffing needs and make sure that job postings contain relevant information and requirements like specific certifications, experience, or values.
Staff alignment counts for a lot, but an advanced candidate screening tool can give you an effectiveness prediction based on extensive education research. You can even use candidate assessment results to suggest specific questions interviewers should ask to help them make the most informed hiring decision possible.
Make a great first impression
Streamlining the application process for candidates welcomes them by showing that you respect their time. Given the financial challenges of pursuing a career in K-12 teaching, making a difference in students’ lives clearly motivates the decision to teach. They want to prioritize time with students, and an easy application process communicates from the very start that you care about giving teachers as much time as possible to focus on student success.
Another way to make a great first impression on potential candidates is by empowering current teachers and staff as your grassroots promoters. Aligning around core values and/or a mission statement helps them convey to everyone they meet in the community and at conferences who you are, what you’re about, and why your school is the best place to work.
Teacher retention strategies to support recruiting
Keeping quality teachers in your district eases the constant demand for new hires and helps you grow educators’ experience and effectiveness. In addition to reducing demands on your HR staff and contributing to better student outcomes, having highly experienced teachers in your schools gives new teachers the chance to get the mentoring they need. Improving teacher support can help you retain more of them in the long run.
Retaining teachers starts with smooth onboarding
Setting new teachers up for success makes them more likely to thrive in your school or district. Just as streamlining your application process is critical to getting candidates to the offer stage, smooth onboarding increases the chance your new hires will become valuable veteran educators.
For more about why onboarding matters and tips for improving hiring and retention, check out our Teacher Shortage Survival Guide. Inside, you’ll discover why employees who attend a well-structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to remain in their job for at least three years.
It’s about people, not paperwork
Onboarding new teachers should revolve around welcoming them into your district. Introduce them to your culture and the people they’ll be working with. Their initial experience as an employee shouldn’t feel rushed or overburdened by paperwork and process. Since new teachers are your partners in supporting student success, you’ll want to do everything you can to welcome them as such.
Rethinking your onboarding process can make a huge impact on teacher retention. It’s an important first step, but it’s also important to think about ways to keep your more experienced teachers in the classroom. Investing in teacher professional development helps your educators grow their skills and become more effective in the classroom. Crucially, a focus on continued professional learning also helps them build long, fulfilling careers within your district.
Success is about focusing on what’s most important
Finding the right people, interviewing them, and bringing them on board is all about making the experience as easy and welcoming as possible. That’s what gets teachers talking about your school or district as a great place to work and keeps them in your classrooms for years to come.
Of course, hiring and recruiting changed drastically with the global response to the pandemic in 2020. Working remotely and virtual interviewing and onboarding became standard practice by necessity, and these practices will likely remain in place to some degree. Applicants and employers have enjoyed increased flexibility and efficiency thanks to these changes. However, online interactions should still be personalized and simplified the same as in-person processes. Schools and districts will likely continue refining their practices, reshaping the future of K-12 recruiting, hiring, and onboarding.
While the teacher shortage is real, growing, and a serious challenge for every K-12 school and district, smart tactics and technology can help. Powerful tools for recruiting more candidates, screening them effectively, and tracking applicant progress while minimizing workload on HR staff are vital to success. However, the most powerful aspect of these tools is their ability to streamline and automate processes so you and your HR staff can focus more on teacher success.