By Guest Blogger, Jennifer Carsen
Finding and keeping good teachers – it’s a classic source of frustration in ECE. And it’s no surprise. Early childhood is a demanding field that doesn’t pay nearly as much as it should. But have you ever considered that you may be the source of some of your hiring woes?
I say this not to assign blame, but to open your eyes to the fact that some of your own hiring practices may not be nearly as effective as they could be. If you are guilty of any or all of the following 3 common ECE hiring mistakes, remedying these things alone will give you a jump start towards finding (and keeping) some really great teaching talent for your center.
Mistake #1: Waiting Too Long To Hire. Oftentimes, the very first time ECE professionals start thinking about hiring is at the moment a vacancy opens up. You know that old saying, “Marry in haste, repent in leisure”? Well, hiring works much the same way. You should always be on the lookout for great talent, even if you don’t have a staff vacancy right now. There are many creative ways to create positions for the right people. One center I know of initially hired a wonderful teacher to fill a short-term vacancy in the kitchen, and teach part-time, until a full-time teaching slot opened up.
Mistake #2: Looking In All The Wrong Places. For many of us – especially those of us over 40 – the first place we think of to post a job ad is in the local newspaper. While there’s nothing really wrong with doing this, it’s important to remember that the teachers you’re looking to hire are increasingly online-only folks. And many online job-posting sites, such as craigslist.org, are both heavily searched and free or cheap to use. Win-win.
Have you ever considered using LinkedIn to search for candidates instead of just posting and waiting for responses? You can search LinkedIn using the advanced search feature and using keywords and industry to find early educators. Many early educators who are looking for jobs include words like “looking for new opportunities” in the subheading in their profiles. Even if you find candidates that seem promising, but don’t put those keywords in their subheading, you can still send them a message to find out if they are interested in a new position. Sometimes it pays to be proactive by reaching out to potential candidates, rather than waiting for them to come to you.
Mistake #3: Ignoring Red Flags. Oftentimes, this mistake flows directly from Mistake #1 – you are desperate to fill a vacancy, so you hire the first remotely plausible person who comes your way. And then you’re left to do it all over again when you’re forced to fire that person, or he or she quits with no notice. Common red flags include unexplained resume gaps, a seeming lack of interest in ECE, and a focus on why your job is great for the applicant rather than the other way around. And it goes without saying that you should always request, and check, references – yet many child care centers just don’t.
Want more strategies for hiring success? I hope you’ll consider joining me for my webinar on Early Childhood Investigations on August 5, Snagging Talented ECE Teachers: Attract, Engage, and Retain the Best Teachers Who are In for the Long Haul. I’ll cover more smart hiring techniques, as well as interview, onboarding, and retention strategies that really work (even if you don’t have an unlimited budget for teacher salaries – and who does, in ECE?).
If you’re wondering whether the session might be a good fit for you, feel free to email me with questions, and I’ll be happy to answer them. Hope to “see” you on the 5th!