Top tips for recruiting in the education sector

national cancer institute N aihp118p8 unsplash scaled 1 | Top tips for recruiting in the education sector
By Paula Smith | 31st August 2021 | 7 min read

Recruiting the education sector is not just about recruiting top teachers. Whilst teachers are undoubtedly integral to the success of any school or learning establishment, they require the support of a good team to deliver the best possible space for learning. 

From department heads and classroom assistants, to lunchtime supervisors and technical staff, school support staff also play an important role in ensuring that students have a safe and supportive learning environment in which they can foster positive relationships and aspire to fulfil their potential. 

Attracting top talent across all departments and areas of your organisation is crucial to achieving your long term goals. 

Like many industries the war for competition can be fierce within the education sector and organisations need to establish a clear strategy not only to maximise attraction methods but also increase retention of quality staff too. 

Here are our top tips for recruiting in the education sector: 

Candidate Attraction 

  • Optimise your Job Adverts / Spec 

Every time you need to recruit, you need to check your job spec is up to date and that your advert is deigned to attract your target audience. In order to make your advert more exciting and appealing, try speaking to the people that do the job day in day out and ensure that what they enjoy about their role is promoted as much as possible this throughout. It's not just about what you want from your new employee, but what they want in return too. 

Selling the role and your organisation has never been so important. Often the first impression that potential employees get of your school is via your advert and it’s vital that you take this opportunity to showcase your establishment and the role on offer in the best possible way you can. 

With thousands of schools to choose from, the highest number of job vacancies on record  from and a well documented shortage of teachers, maximising the initial impact to generate quality applications can be difficult. 

As a result the quality of job adverts is increasing. Try use short and engaging videos as part of your job advert, or show people what your school environment is like through the use of image carousels. Literally anything you can do to make sure your advert stands out from the crowd and to encourage people to apply. 

  • Maximise your reach 

Through our extensive work within the education sector, we understand that many organisation often choose to advertise all their vacancies either on the same platform or in a very similar manner. Recruitment for any role needs to be targeted and specific. 

Think about the platforms you use and how this can be improved to reach a wider pool of talent that includes both active and passive candidates. Only 25% of the available workforce are actively looking for new opportunities, which means there is huge potential should you be able to tap into the passive candidate market. 

In 2021, statistics suggest that over 3.78 billion people use social media and this is expected to rise to 4.41 by 2021. Therefore by ensuring social media is part of your attraction strategy can provide you with access to millions of potential candidates. 

Whether you choose to harness the power of targeted sponsored advertising or piggy back on the potential reach offered by your current employees and suitable groups, social media today plays a integral role in the candidate attraction strategies when recruiting in the education sector. 

  • Improve your application process 

When you have gone to so much effort sourcing candidates, then the last thing you want to do is lose them due to a poor candidate experience. Just as technology has forced significant developments in the way we conduct everyday activities such as a banking and shopping, jobseekers expect the process of applying for a job is reflective of these new technologies and trends. 

According to a recent survey Over 90% of jobseekers use their mobile devices to look for that dream job, 45% do so on a daily basis and 89% believe that mobile devices play a crucial part in the job seeking process. Candidate's therefore not only expect a mobile friendly application process but demand it. 

Your application form also needs to be as quick and simple as possible, which includes not making candidates jump through hoops to register their interest. For some roles you may wish to explore the option of a 2 stage application process, ie asking all candidate's to complete a few key questions and then reaching back out to those who match your essential criteria to submit some more information for you to make more informed selection decisions. 

Applying for a role yourself can really help you put yourself in the shoes of a job seeker and identify potential barriers you may not have been aware of previously. It’s also important to regularly ask for feedback form those who have applied for a role to understand what improvements can be made. 

With the advancement of technology and rapid changes in candidate expectations , your application process will be a constantly evolving part of your recruitment strategy. 

Employee Retention 

Recognise your top employees 

As well as improving your attraction strategies, retention plays a huge role in the building a quality team, especially when recruiting in the education sector. Any employee that is overlooked or undervalued is more likely to be open to new opportunities. Recognition goes a long way to maintaining top talent across all departments. 

Why is employee recognition so important? 

According to “, from a very early age we crave recognition from parents, teachers, and friends. So strong is our desire for positive affirmation, particularly during developmental periods, that we can even perceive a neutral reaction as a negative one.”

Recognising employees doesn’t have to be an expensive activity, but something as simple as ‘employee of the month’ , certificates of achievement, or a team event. 

A little recognition will go a long way to making your employees feel valued and part of the team, leaving them less likely to consider moving to a new opportunity. 

Motivate employees with rewards

From offering a free friday breakfast to duvet days, rewards are a great way to motivate your employees, boost enthusiasm and general commitment of your employees. 

The scope of employee rewards is immense and fall into 7 different categories: 

Extrinsic rewards: e.g. Money, praise, awards, and incentive prizes such as tickets to a concert or a game.

Intrinsic Rewards: e.g. Improving work processes and environments so they are more satisfying for employees.

Monetary Rewards :e.g. Increases in hourly pay, increases in hours (for non-salaried employees), increases and bonuses.

Non - monetary rewards: e.g.  Supplying employees with the best tools possible to do their job is an example, such as providing a new high-end laptop or having an excellent training facility.

Performance based rewards: e.g. Rewards that are tied to the ability of an individual, team, group, or organisation to meet some previously agreed targets.

Membership base rewards: e.g. Certain length of service with an organization, employees may receive a certain percentage increase to their pay or be eligible for additional benefits.

Non-Traditional Rewards: e.g. shorter working weeks, amended hours, flex time, or working from home.

The type of rewards you offer and the effect they have on your employees may vary between departments or even individuals. Ask your employees what they would most like to receive as a reward, to understand what would be most well received. 

Clearly outline Career progression 

‘CPD has been shown to increase teacher motivation, confidence and commitment to teaching. Learning new skills and applying them in the classroom can lead to a more stimulating and effective teaching environment.’ BESA

However, CPD ( continued professional development ) is not only important just for teaching staff but for all roles across your organisation. The benefits of CPD go much further than just helping retain top talent though, your employees will enhance their knowledge to make improvements, reflect trends and become more effective in the workplace too. 

Your approach and commitment to CPD should also be clearly outlined in your adverts too. 

Whilst recruiting in the education sector has many similar traits to other industries, there are also a number of specific factors that need to be taken into account. 

From the shortage of teachers, to the fact that most 'almost half of Education professionals surveyed (45%) expect to work for fewer than five schools during their career’  attracting and retention strategies need to be tailored to both the demands of the industry and the overall objectives of your organisation. 

Check out our IRIS networx solutions for more information regarding how we support education providers across the UK to attract and retain top talent.