How to build a last-minute candidate pool for hard-to-fill positions
Learn one Texas district’s strategy to recruit hard-to-fill positions at the last minute in this podcast featuring Britt Spears, human resources director at Lubbock-Cooper Independent School District.
Kevin Keenmon: Welcome to PeopleAdmin’s K-12 podcast. Today, we’re going to discuss how to hire great teachers last minute.
Now, for those of you who don’t know, PeopleAdmin is the leading provider of cloud-based talent management solutions for education.
My name is Kevin Keenmon, and recently, I had the chance to talk with Britt Spears, human resources director at Lubbock-Cooper Independent School District. Britt’s school year started August 28th, but due to student enrollment growth, he still has three open teacher positions, including two that are hard to fill, at any time of year.
Britt Spears: We have a Spanish position at one of our middle schools and then we have a SPED position that we’re going to add because of enrollment numbers.
Kevin: With the school year already under way, Britt expects finding teachers to fill these positions will be even more challenging.
Britt: Most of the time, people that are looking for jobs are either employed or already locked in. You know, in both cases, already employed. And then the district typically doesn’t let you out of a contract unless it’s just an extenuating circumstance. You have to let a district know 45 days before the first day of instruction to be able to get out of a contract. Otherwise, a school district has to go before the board and release you from that contract.
And in some cases … I know we do if it’s a job that a person has received an offer on that is a move up. You know, if somebody has moved into a central office position or curriculum coaching position just from a teaching position, we’ll let him go. But other than that, you just can’t let somebody go off just because they’ve got a different job that might be a little better for them.
Kevin: As a short-term solution, LCISD puts the most qualified available educators in their classrooms.
Britt: Sometimes we can, depending on the position and depending on the course based on what TA will allow us, we can put a teacher’s aide in there, we can piece it together with a teacher that may have their schedule change in their other classes — combining different sections to make sure that’s covered if we’re below the student-teacher ratio for that grade level.
So there’s a number of different ways we try to make that work for the short term, until we get a long-term person in. In certain situations, we’ve had to use long-term subs for probably longer than we would like to. But we have a number of retired teachers that we can pull in, and they fill that role pretty well. It’s just not a long-term solution that we’d like to go with.
Kevin: To find a long-term solution they’re comfortable with, LCISD focuses on developing a candidate pool of qualified teachers — a process that includes calling teachers who previously applied for similar positions.
Britt: We look back through the historical data — through the old applications that have been banked — and as we open up positions, sometimes we just roll that pool into a new position so that our principals can see people that have applied to similar positions, have similar certifications, and just try to pull the resources of what we have on file.
Kevin: Recruit & Hire — the applicant tracking system from PeopleAdmin — allows LCISD to quickly access the information they need from previous applications.
Britt: The historical data or the back-up of old applications, that’s advantageous for us just so we can go through and look at, you know, who has applied for similar positions. We can go back and if I have an opening at the middle school in English, I can go and look at our other English opening we had two months prior and try to get some of those candidates’ applications pulled back up.
Kevin: Britt and his team also use word-of-mouth to find interested candidates.
Britt: You know some of our best teachers we get from contacts within, you know, just your teacher pool. The teachers know teachers, teachers know people who maybe have gotten out. I know in our profession we lose good people all the time that have decided, “You know, I just can’t handle it anymore.” And then maybe stay out a few years and really had a desire to come back, just don’t really want to go through the process of applying and looking into things.
We’ve picked up a number of really good teachers just [by] word-of-mouth from our other teachers that are currently employed. Just saying, “Hey, you know, so-and-so may be interested in coming back and maybe stepping into that role.” We typically pick up good people that way. I know we’ve picked up a math teacher at one of our elementary schools that was certified and was just a stay-at-home mom, and was kind of transitioning back in to work just didn’t know if she was ready and kind of the perfect scenario opened up for her. So she stepped in, and she’s now a fifth-grade math teacher for us. So that’s always a good resource, just word-of-mouth, and teachers know other teachers.
Kevin: Finally, they use SchoolSpring — a K-12 education-specific job board — to ensure their job postings reach a large audience.
Britt: That pushes those things out there so that it gets in front of those people and, you know, makes it easier for them to see what openings we have, or what positions are available for us.
Kevin: Once they’ve hired the right teachers for their open positions, they understand the need to put them in the classroom as soon as possible.
Using Onboard — PeopleAdmin’s automated onboarding solution — which integrates with their Recruit & Hire applicant tracking system, LCISD is able to quickly place newly hired teachers in front of their students.
Britt: And there are a number of different things on the onboarding that works well for us. All of it works well for us, but it makes the process a lot easier to get people into the system quickly especially late in the year. If I hired a TA today, because of the onboarding, we’re getting her to the system and she’ll be activated shortly — which would have taken quite a bit of time if we weren’t using the system to go through and onboard.
Kevin: Well, there you have it: Best practices in K-12 talent management. If you’d like to learn more, please visit TalentEdk12.com. Thank you for listening.