Auxiliary departments in educational organizations are struggling to recruit staff necessary to appropriately meet student needs.
Current labor shortages are due, in part, to personal safety concerns, access to unemployment benefits, and market competitiveness.
Recruitment is the process of actively seeking, finding, and hiring candidates for a specific job or position. Applying best practices to the process can ensure great workers are found and once hired, stick around.
The following steps will increase the likelihood of success:
- Identify vacancies
- Review job posting
- Be an applicant
- Actively recruit
- Screen applicants
- Provide support
Many educational organizations in the state experienced a decline in enrollment as a result of the pandemic and have failed to rebound. As a result, current staffing levels should be compared to current enrollment to ensure all determined vacancies are needed positions. Holding on to vacant positions hoping for enrollment increases may not be the best approach. Instead, staffing levels should be adjusted accordingly.
Processes, practices, and procedures also should be reviewed for efficiency. For example, if a cafeteria is offering three serving lines but enrollment has declined, the use of three lines may no longer be necessary. Similarly, a decrease in cleanable square footage of a facility or a closure should result in custodial staffing adjustments.
Review Job Posting
Job descriptions should be accurate and up to date. Including specific duties and responsibilities provides a clear picture of what a day in the life of the position looks like. Make sure requirements or qualifications are relevant.
Posting on job boards may provide an opportunity to add more creativity to the job description. There may be an option to include a brief summary highlighting the posted job. For instance, “Providing fresh healthy meals for thousands of students daily to ensure their minds are ready to learn” could be added. At the conclusion of a job board posting, take the opportunity to share what makes your organization appealing compared to other entities. This may include no night or weekend work for maintenance, summers off with annualized pay for child nutrition workers, and retirement plan and benefits for eligible employees.
Be an Applicant
It is important to periodically evaluate the application process from the point of view of the applicant. Determining the ease or difficulty of the process can assist HR in making adjustments to improve the experience. Just knowing where a link to the application system can be found on the organization’s website can bring clarity. Requiring an applicant to complete multiple applications for the same job at different locations is time consuming. This type of requirement provides a great opportunity for streamlining. Additionally, there is no value in requiring an auxiliary employee to submit a resume with their job application.
Identify recruitment opportunities onsite or offsite that may result in access to potential applicants. These include setting up a booth at parent/teacher conferences, grandparent’s day celebration, an open house, extracurricular events, or in front of a local grocer, with permission of course. Additional creative endeavors such as sending a flyer home as a backpack stuffer or hanging signs on a playground fence also may be helpful. Tracking the impact of efforts can provide data needed to guide future decisions.
Display at least the starting rate of pay for a position. If the rate is below an applicant’s expectation, it should help deter those unwilling to work for that hourly rate from applying, saving the applicant and organization valuable time. Evaluate the market competitiveness prior to posting, as well. If the job type is lagging the market, make adjustments for recruitment efforts and don’t forget to evaluate the adjustment impact on existing staff to avoid creating inequities.
Making the right hire is time consuming but well worth the effort. Go into the process with high expectations. Don’t settle for an applicant just for the sake of filling a position. Hiring shouldn’t be for the immediate vacancy but for the future of the organization, and don’t forget it’s for the students served by the organization.
A thorough screening process will provide for more than one contact with an applicant prior to hiring. Take advantage of the phone call made to schedule an in-person interview. Have a handful of screening questions available and ask them prior to scheduling the in-person interview.
Reference checks are key to the process. Silence on the other end of a phone call speaks volumes and should be noted. Keep reference checks simple by verifying work history and performance indicators such as attendance, motivation level, and ability to work independently. Lastly, don’t forget to ask the individual if they would rehire the applicant.
Inform an applicant of support provided to ensure their success and training available to build necessary skills. Noting the resources provided may also influence an applicant’s decision to accept a position. State what types of resources are provided by the organization such as payment for fingerprinting, nonslip shoes, and uniforms. If providing training for a commercial driver’s license, mention that detail. With the lack of licensed maintenance workers, it may be helpful to communicate how the district provides support to individuals pursuing a trade license.
Increasing and improving the applicant pool can greatly benefit an organization. Students must be served regardless of the current labor market. Looking at the overall recruitment efforts can reveal opportunities to implement process improvements.
Karen Dooley joined HR Services in 2016. She provides oversight to a team of consultants providing staffing services, HR reviews, and other projects. She provides training and assists school districts with their HR-related needs. Dooley is a seasoned administrator with more than 17 years of HR experience in Central Texas districts as a coordinator, director, and assistant superintendent. She also worked as an assistant principal, counselor, and teacher, and holds a superintendent certificate.
Dooley received her master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University and her bachelor’s degree from Texas State University.
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