By Stephanie Patton
In many schools, hiring begins as the current school year wraps up, and continues through summer break – between June and August. When a leader approaches hiring, it always pays to be ahead of the game, and getting an early launch to hiring season is a critical result of excellent preparation.
The term ‘hiring season’ can be deceiving: as a leader, one is always looking for top talent, and cannot predict when the school will have an immediate vacancy that needs to be filled. When I think about hiring season, I define it as the time from when you first begin seeking candidates for the next academic school year, through the end of the summer. This season of hiring is typically a nine-month season – especially for schools that get an early start.
Nine months of hiring work before July or August? Yes. This means the ideal time to gear up for hiring is now. If you hold the goal of always finding the best-fit talent for your team, beginning to search high and low for this talent in November allows you to attract strong individuals who are looking for their next role in the closing months of that calendar year. As a Principal, many of my strongest hires were individuals who submitted their resumes in November and December.
As with any project, initiative, or program, a successful end result always starts with a strong plan. At a high level, the following steps form an outline for creating effective strategies to tackle the long-term hiring season.
1 DETERMINE WHICH ROLES YOU NEED TO HIRE FOR AND CREATE JOB POSTINGS FOR EACH ROLE
First, you need to consider which known vacancies you will have for the upcoming school year. For a slow-growth model school in its early years, you are already aware of the new roles you need to hire for. Additionally, you can consider including one or two generic roles that might be useful, like ‘classroom teacher,’ which will cast a wider net for talented applicants. Create individual job postings for each identified role. Each posting should include: 1) the mission and vision of your school, 2) a summary of the role, and 3) the major qualifications you are looking for. Ensure that the role titles are commonly recognizable in your region – for example, if hiring a leadership team member to oversee the Special Education Department, the title Dean of Supports could be confusing to some individuals who are suited to that type of role. Do your research into what roles are commonly called across other local charter schools, as well as traditional public schools.
2 DETERMINE THE STRUCTURE OF YOUR HIRING PROCESS
Once you have created the job postings and know which roles to hire for, it is important to think through what the interview process will look like for candidates. What are the stages of the hiring process from resume screening through making a hire? Write out the stages and identify who is involved in each stage of the process. For each component of your hiring process, determine which characteristics and qualities you will look for in candidates, and lay out a rubric for how you will determine who moves forward. This will lead you to concrete answers for specific details, for example: if the third stage in your process is an in-person interview, will you include a sample lesson? If so, what does the candidate receive in advance of the lesson, who will they teach, and what questions will you ask as part of the debrief? To ensure that you are hiring the best fit, strongest team members, it is important to determine what you are looking for, and to design your interview and hiring process around those characteristics.
3 SET UP SYSTEMS FOR MANAGING THE HIRING PROCESS
Before you post the anticipated roles and open the process for applicants, ensure you have created effective systems that you will use to manage the hiring process. Once the job postings are live on your website and through others – TFA, Idealist, or even a local jobs board – resumes will start coming your way; often, a lot of resumes. You need to think through: Where are resumes submitted? How frequently are they reviewed, and by whom? How will you track applicants for each role? There are a number of ways you can set up systems to manage the process. A few important components to consider are:
- How will you manage the submission of resumes and track applicants?
- Who will review resumes and make determinations regarding strengths and weaknesses?
- Who will respond to each candidate that is moving forward in the process? Within what time frame will they give this response?
Once you have your job postings ready, your interview process stages determined, and your system for managing the workflow during the process in place, you are ready to kick off the hiring season.