The new term is here, and it’s brought with it a return to the everyday hustle of bustle that comes with being a schools HR professional.
But unfortunately, none of us can escape the fact that recruiting outstanding teachers is tough going. Despite a number of government initiatives, it’s been estimated that schools are still facing a critical shortage of 50,000 teachers in the next five years. The picture certainly isn’t looking rosy.
Until teaching has a makeover as a profession of choice and is given the kudos it fully deserves, no “magic bullet” solution will solve the crisis. However, through working with over 600 schools, we have seen a small, but significant change that can make a big difference to your talent pool: recruitment marketing.
Increasingly, HR teams are adopting a number of marketing tactics to help raise the profile of their school and ultimately, sell it to potential candidates. And in a crowded marketplace, a well-executed recruitment marketing strategy can really cut through the noise and help your school stand out as a true employer of choice.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a marketer to adopt these tactics. We’ve written you a step-by-step Recruitment Marketing Action Plan that you can work through and implement today to set the stage for a great term.
Step 1: Consider Agency Vs. Direct Sourcing
No school can afford to throw unlimited quantities of money at the problem of teacher recruitment. There are very real budget constraints to work with. So with this in mind, it’s worth considering the issue of agency vs. direct sourcing.
In principle, working with a recruitment agency can be useful. They often do a good chunk of the legwork and bring you a qualified list of candidates to review. But that service comes at a hefty price (even if they deliver lackluster results) and they don’t know your brand like you do. There’s also a lot of prospective teachers out there that want to deal with a school directly, not go through the middle man.
Analyse how much you spend on working with recruitment agencies over the course of a typical year, then decide if you have the resources (time, money, and personnel) available to shift towards a direct sourcing model.
A direct sourcing model doesn’t mean you have to work completely alone. For instance, you could partner with an advertising and marketing agency such as Ambleglow. Clients come to us for a number of reasons:
- We streamline the candidate attraction process through creating high-impact advertising campaigns
- We help schools escape the burden of time-consuming media buying and administration.
- Due to the media buying power we get from purchasing media space in bulk, we can save schools money over them booking directly
Whatever decision you make, we encourage you to run the numbers. You might find that it makes good financial sense to take some of your recruitment inhouse (and save on those hefty recruitment agency fees).
Step 2: Review Data From Your Previous Year
Before you start, you need to know what works and what doesn’t. Being able to reflect back on these choices (and figure out how successful they were) is critical in making better plans for the future. Your past actions are the basis upon which you build your future strategy.
If you don’t currently have systems to analyse and interpret your data, then get something in place. Even something as straightforward as a basic spreadsheet tracking the applications you received (where they came from, how many progressed to the interview stage) is a great first step, as it will allow you to figure out your top-performing mediums and help you to avoid wasting money on those that aren’t performing. Getting a good ROI on your advertising is key, and this kind of system will allow you to do just that.
A basic spreadsheet won’t give you the same level of insight that a more complex, in-depth system will, but it’s better than nothing. And if it guides you towards making better choices in the coming year, then it’s worth your time to set it up.
Step 3: Set Your Goals For The Year
Once you’ve taken a complete look at the previous year’s data, you’ll be in a good position to set your goals for the year ahead.
Good departmental goals should be measurable (i.e. when your goal is “get x number of applications”, you either do it or you don’t), but you don’t just have to set goals for your role as a whole. You can also set personal goals, such as learning how to run Facebook Pay per Click campaigns.
Whatever goals you settle on, ensure they’re:
- Relevant to your work as a school HR professional
That third point may strike you as odd, but we’ve seen many schools professionals get caught up learning about Facebook ads or attending low-value jobs fairs… without having a clear reason to do so. Make sure that achieving your goals will bring you closer to your ultimate aim – attracting top talent, boosting enrollment numbers and helping your school succeed in the long-term.
An added bonus of having this plan is that it will help you navigate internal stakeholder meetings with much less fuss. Demonstrating you’re in control and have a plan will help to avoid any lengthy interrogations!
Step 4: Review Your Advertising Copy
It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of secondary teachers across the UK. And when demand is high but supply is low, it’s more important than ever to ensure your messaging for potential recruits is targeted and effective.
There are a few different areas of advertising we see schools struggle with. One of the most notable is writing compelling advertising copy. Too often, schools produce ads that focus entirely on their own wants and needs – without giving any consideration to the desires of the candidate. In this crowded, candidate-driven marketplace, standing out from your competitors can be as simple as writing an ad that speaks to your readers. Write with their desires in mind. Tell them how working in your school will bring them closer to achieving their goals (professional development, making a difference in society, etc.).
As a bonus tip, if you advertise your roles on TES.com or any other job board, think carefully about wording for the initial display. On TES.com you are able to change the wording on the initial description, so don’t just use your existing copy or none at all, like this example:
Beat the page competition and change the copy to something engaging and entices the reader to click through to find out more, such as this great example from Shiplake College:
So, we ask you. When did you last review your advertising copy?
For more info on how you can write compelling advertisements, see here.
Step 5: Review Your Job Descriptions
Next – job descriptions. It’s rare to see an interesting or compelling one. Candidates will typically skim over them, hoping that they’ll get more concrete information about the role if they make it as far as the interview stage.
However, an outdated job description is almost certainly costing you talented applicants (who simply pass the listing by when it doesn’t hold their attention). And beyond that… there is a very real financial cost associated with having outdated job descriptions.
Hiring the wrong candidates to fill your vacancies inevitably leads to higher churn rates, meaning you have to spend even more money on advertising and training when those initial hires don’t work out. You attract fewer top-quality candidates with weak job descriptions, have to hire more often, and spend more money than you would otherwise.
To learn more about writing relevant and and results-generating job descriptions, see this LinkedIn post from Aaron Hurst here. We’ll also be covering the topic in a future article, so keep an eye out for that!
Step 6: Invest In A Suite Of Recruitment Marketing Literature
We bet that your school markets to pupils pretty effectively, but what about candidates? Does their journey and interaction with you get thought about in as much detail? Probably not, which is a mistake if you think about how important teachers are to the success of your school.
Aside from just a job listing, we’re helping more and more of our clients with supporting materials such as candidate information packs (a prospectus for future staff if you like!), bespoke job description templates, benefits infographics and even recruitment specific videos that give them a look at what life is like in your school before they even apply. Here’s some examples of recruitment literature that we’ve created for clients:
Remember, initial reactions to your offering are crucial and teachers are busy, so you have very limited time to capture someone’s attention. If you’ve spent time on setting the scene via marketing materials before they even decide to apply, candidates will see that you’re serious about attracting quality teaching staff.
Having a great academic year doesn’t happen by accident. To succeed in achieving your goals, you need to start as you wish to go on…
And that means you should take the time now to:
- Consider moving from an agency to a direct sourcing model 2. Review data from last year
- Set your goals for the year
- Review your advertising copy
- Review your job descriptions
- Invest in a suite of recruitment marketing literature