Has your school had its fair share of resignations this year? Recruitment is a constant headache for schools and with the number of new teachers entering the profession and those leaving being at similar levels, there’s no sign that the situation is going to get easier any time soon.
Not only are there limited numbers of teachers to go around, but you’re also in competition with every other local school, usually looking for the very same role. You only have to look at TES.co.uk to see page after page of schools advertisements. A quick search shows over 7,000 teaching vacancies live on their site, all desperate for that elusive Teacher of . So how do you stand out in such a crowded marketplace?
We’ll be honest and say that there’s no magic bullet here. But there are some quick wins that you can make, and better still, it’s only a cost in time rather than money. Take a closer look at some of those 7,000 job listings and take a bit of time to dig a little deeper and see what schools are actually saying about themselves. More importantly, what your school saying about itself in your advertisements?
The importance of your advertising should not be underestimated. It’s usually the very first time a prospective candidate will interact with your school, even before they hit your website. It’s your shop window and you have very little time to make a great first impression. Get it wrong and you’ll be passed over in a matter of seconds. Leading to little interaction, few applications and at its worst, unfilled vacancies.
But let’s be clear, we get it. You’re busy and you probably see writing job ad copy as a bit of a chore. Perhaps it’s something that you put off until the last possible minute and then hastily throw together. It could even be that you’re just doing a ‘rinse and repeat’ of previous advertisements that were originally written in 2002. But are these doing your school any justice and is your current process taking you away from other priorities? Here’s our 12 tips to help get your advertising back on track and ensure it stands out from the crowd:
Tip 1: Walk in your candidates shoes.
Put yourself into the mind of the candidate and take some time to review your existing advertising copy with a critical eye. Does it really sell your school? Does it make you want to find out more about the role? Ask recent new teaching or support staff what they thought of your advertisement and did it meet their expectations?
Tip 2: Review the competition.
Look at other schools copy and pick some examples of schools who are getting it right and schools that are getting it totally wrong. Benchmark yours against your examples to see where yours needs to improve.
Tip 3: Tell your story.
Every school has a USP. It could be the ethos and journey of the school, new equipment, pupils who are eager to learn, a transparent and supportive leadership team. There will be something, so talk to your staff, pupils and parents and ask them what they feel makes your school special or unique. It makes your advertisement far more authentic. But be honest, and don’t over-egg it, or you could send up with that egg all over your face! If you’re using online advertising, you also have plenty more space to write in, so use it!
Tip 4: A job description doth not maketh an advertisement.
Your advertisement should never be a copy of your job description. Feel free to add in some elements of what the job entails and some of the qualities you’re looking for, but think of the journey your candidate is taking. They’ll probably read your advertisement and if they are interested to find out more, they will go to your website. Do you really want your candidate to be reading the same copy twice? It’s lazy and shows a lack of care.
Tip 5: Shopping lists are for the supermarket.
A bullet pointed shopping list of wants is not compelling. Given the teacher recruitment crisis, we’re very much in a candidate-led marketplace. Gone are the days of expecting prospective candidates to be grateful to work at your school. Like it or not, your advertisement needs to focus on why someone should want to work for you and what they will get out of it.
Tip 6: Write in the first person.
Use the first person in your copy when addressing a candidate. ‘You’ is so much more personal than ‘The successful candidate’. You’re also creating a one-to-one dialogue with your reader and getting them to imagine themselves in the role.
Tip 7: Don’t state the obvious.
Don’t tell a teacher how to teach! So many schools make the mistake of using precious advertising space to state the obvious – for example, that a teacher needs to be able to teach! Use your space wisely and include information that a candidate really wants to know – the environment, learning and development, team nights, anything that enriches the candidate experience.
Tip 8: It’s all in the detail.
Details can make a big difference. Are you near major transport route such as motorways, stations or bus route? Is there ample parking? Can your staff walk to the shops in their lunch hour if they need to run an errand? Can they use the school’s sports facilities? If a candidate is relocating, can you suggest local estate or letting agents that they can get in touch with? This really does help save candidate significant research time when considering your school.
Tip 9: Make the job boards work harder for your copy.
Most job board searches reveal the start of the ‘body copy” of an advertisement, so make the most of this and grab your applicants attention. A brief teaser that gives readers a flavour of the role will improve your chances of the advertisement being read. For example “An outstanding opportunity for a qualified Maths Teacher to make their mark with a high-achieving school….” and encourage people to find out more.
Tip 10: Calls to action.
If you have the resource, add in a phone number or email that the candidate can call if they have any queries. If they have one question that can easily be resolved by a conversation, this could give you an application that you may not have had. Promoting school visits to candidates is even better if you can offer this.
Tip 11: One size does not fit all.
Don’t rely on one version of copy for every advertisement. Candidates will soon get bored of seeing the same copy for every single role you put out. Try and mix it up and flex the information depending on the role.
Tip 12: Create a time-saving toolkit
Now you’ve spent some time working on your recruitment advertising copy, start creating a bank of intro and outro paragraphs that can be tailored to suit different vacancies. Not only will this save you time when a job authorisation form lands on your desk, but it will stop your advertisements looking stale.
By using our 12 simple steps you’ll soon find that you’ll not only save yourself valuable time, but you’ll have a much better chance of capturing the attention of teachers who could very well be your next great hire.
Thanks to Copywriter Alasdair Murray for his input into this article.