As the reality set in over the rapid and widespread impact the Coronavirus would have on international education, schools around the world began taking immediate measures to safeguard their students, families and communities.
Today, we continue to navigate global school closures, with teachers and students doing their best to continue with lessons outside of the classroom. It is a truly difficult time.
However, as administrators and school heads take micro-steps forward to support their teachers and students in the here and now, we also know they are keeping an eye on the horizon.
China, the first country hit by the virus, has already started to cautiously open doors and bring overseas teachers back to the country to begin the necessary quarantines before reacclimating to their teaching lives there.
What, exactly, this new version of life after the pandemic looks like remains to be seen. But nonetheless, teachers are and will be needed for this year and beyond.
What the data shows
As a company committed to ensuring every student experiences the power that a great teacher can have, we have worked with thousands of schools in hundreds of countries around the world to help them with their recruitment efforts.
In recent years, we’ve seen a number of our partner schools struggle to adapt to the growing demand for educators and, consequently, the increasing competition for top candidates.
The future and aftermath of this pandemic will be no different. Schools still need to find great teachers. The “talented” teachers, those truly great ones who are as engaging and effective online as they are in the classroom, those are the ones needed most.
In our 2019 survey of school heads, conducted to develop our annual International Education Recruitment Report, school administrators identified attracting candidates of a suitable quality (59%) and attracting enough candidates (30%) as the two aspects of recruitment they find most challenging.
But why is this?
As you would expect, the answer to this question is complicated by a number of contributing factors.
However, one particular common thread that our teams continue to notice (and that is supported by our research) is that school hiring teams (or school administrators involved in recruitment for their school) are primarily reactionary. Meaning, they only recruit when they have an open vacancy to fill.
This is the time to be proactive
More than ever before, in the coming weeks and months our recruitment specialists believe that schools who don’t start to address recruitment, who instead maintain their reactionary approach to recruitment, will be challenged in restarting the hiring process and filling future roles on the other side of this crisis for a few key reasons.
1. Attracting candidates takes time
One of the greatest challenges to recruiting candidates for overseas positions has always been that it takes time.
Of the schools we surveyed, 22% said the process of attracting candidates is the part of the recruitment process that takes them the longest.
By waiting until you have a vacancy to start recruiting, you’re putting yourself in the unenviable position of having to start the lengthy process from scratch every time you need to hire.
This inevitably means it’s likely going to take longer to hire than if you had a list of candidates ready and waiting.
2. Your selection will be limited
Secondly, being reactionary likely means that you have a smaller candidate pool to draw from than you’d have had if you’d been proactively recruiting for future vacancies.
With fewer qualified candidates to choose from, there’s a much higher likelihood that: It will take you longer to fill your open role(s), You’ll have to compromise on quality, or You’ll hire the wrong person.
The landscape will change
The unfortunate thing, however, is that this is exactly how 73% of schools were addressing their hiring prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Of the schools we surveyed in 2019 only 27% were proactively building a candidate pool for future hiring needs. And those all likely need to be revisited and revitalized based on a changing landscape.
But what is a candidate pool?
The alternative approach to posting a vacancy as it comes up is to be proactively building a pool of qualified candidates, or applicant pool, who are interested in working at your school that you can turn to whenever a hiring need arises.
Naturally, the number of teachers worldwide actively seeking overseas teaching jobs has dropped dramatically. And searches for “online teaching jobs” have gone up 280+% week after week.
However, there are still people connecting with our community and recruitment team members asking about our vacancies, and what jobs will be available and when they will be available in certain countries.
Because the really good, really dedicated international teachers are still there. And now is the time to be connecting with them.
As per point number one above, international teacher recruitment takes time. And time is something that we all currently have. Now is the time to start building a long-term recruitment strategy, for the vacancies you know you’ll need to fill.
If built the right way, a candidate pool ensures a constant flow of qualified candidates is always available when you need them, and often enables you to fill positions cheaper and faster than if you were to start recruiting only when a vacancy becomes available.
The advantages of a candidate pool are that, by having a ready supply of interested and pre-screened candidates that you can reach out to as needed, it allows you to sidestep the time it takes to attract candidates and drastically reduce your hiring time.
In addition, because you’ll have the luxury of building your candidate over a longer period of time you’ll have a larger pool of qualified candidates to choose from, allowing you to make better hiring decisions.
Tips from our team on how to build a candidate pool
There are a few ways that your school can go about building a candidate pool. Different candidates have different levels of intent, interest, or motivation at any given time. Of course, right now motivations may be different than they ever have been before.
In order to maximize your candidate pool, it’s important to keep this in mind and create ways to set your efforts and targets deliberately, as well as capture candidates accordingly.
Typically, there are two types of candidates: The passive candidate The active candidate
Who are passive candidates?
Passive candidates are those teachers who are generally happy with their current position and are not actively looking for a new opportunity. However, they may be open to considering a move in the future if the right opportunity came around.
As these candidates are not actively engaged in a job search, you’ll need to be present in places where they’re spending time online in order to get in front of them and pique their interest in your school as a potential employer.
These are an ideal focus for the current climate as they may not yet be looking, but they possibly could be a perfect fit for your school and more open to engaging in discussions than previously.
To attract them, you will need to build an online presence where candidates are spending their time online. Just because teachers are not as actively searching “teaching jobs abroad” at the current moment, does not mean they’re not researching their options and gathering information.
Let’s look at a few places your school should be visible in order to capture their interest. In our same 2019 survey of teaching candidates, we asked our network to tell us where they go to research prospective employers and career options available to them.
The results show that candidates are using a variety of channels.
With that in mind, here are a few of the online channels you should pay attention to in order to build an ideal candidate pool right now:
- Take the time to invest in a quality careers section on your school website. There is no time like the present.
- Establish or build your presence on social media to communicate to your network, as well as create content and credibility for prospective teachers.
- Create useful content that can help teachers in the current moment to engage with that audience. Creating blog posts or content that illustrates the nature of your school is a proven way to show off your value.
- Communicate with the candidates you already have regularly.
For more information on how to engage passive candidates, download our 2020 International Education Recruitment Report.
Who are active candidates?
And then there are the active candidates. Active candidates are potential candidates that are currently looking for a job. Given that these teachers are actively engaged in job search behaviors it’s often easier for hiring schools to get in front of active candidates.
The key is knowing where they’re looking for jobs and when they’re looking for them. Below are a few best practices to position your school for active candidates.
Advertise your jobs early and often
In order to have a well-stocked candidate pool that will afford you lots of choice in candidates, you need time to build it.
In some cases, such as if a teacher falls ill or becomes homesick and decides to return home, you may not know when you’ll need to fill a vacancy.
In most cases, however, you know that you’ll need to hire for the coming school year. If your school year begins in September, you’ll want to give yourself lots of time to collect applications before then.
Prior to COVID-19, candidates were beginning their job search earlier and earlier, some as much as 12 months in advance of when they’re anticipating starting a new job.
As such, you should be advertising your jobs for many months in advance in order to give yourself the opportunity to appeal to the most job seekers possible.
You might also choose to advertise year-round. Many schools (and organizations outside of the education industry) are constantly advertising for positions they know they’ll need to hire for in the future.
Simply be sure to note on your job postings that you’re not hiring for an immediate opening, rather that you’re hiring for future vacancies or for positions for the coming school year. That way candidates that apply will not be expecting to hear from you to schedule interviews in the near future.
Advertise your jobs where candidates are looking for opportunities
We asked our network of candidates to tell us where they go to look for jobs.
Of the online job search methods, candidates are using, they prefer to use job boards that are catered specifically to their profession and the type of jobs they’re looking for.
It’s important to also notice that a large percentage of candidates prefer to use search engines, as well as school websites and social media.
With this in mind, you’ll want to make sure that your jobs are optimized for keywords to be found when candidates use search engines to find jobs, and that you’re also advertising your jobs on your social media channels and your school’s website.
Access teacher databases to build your candidate pool
Posting your jobs on job boards isn’t the only way to build your candidate pool. Rather than waiting for candidates to come to you, you can also proactively go to them.
Many international education recruitment companies offer schools the ability to tap into ready pools of active job seekers.
To populate your own candidate pool, you can leverage these databases to find candidates who meet your criteria and invite them to apply to your jobs (or join your candidate network).
Our research also shows that, while candidates are more likely to pursue opportunities they’ve applied directly, they’re also open to being contacted directly by schools (and to a lesser degree, recruiters) regarding opportunities they are well suited to.
Tap into your existing teachers’ networks
Another way you can expand your potential pool of candidates is by tapping into your existing employees’ networks. Personal referrals are a tried and trusted way that people find new jobs and, especially in the tightly-knit international education community, a sure-fire way that can help you find new prospective candidates.
To use this method, you can either:
- Put the word out to your employees that you’re looking to build your candidate pool (or looking to hire) and invite them to share the opportunity with their networks, or
- Implement a referral program where your existing employees will be compensated in some way if you end up hiring a candidate they introduced to you. Offering an incentive will generally result in a more successful referral program as staff will have more of an impetus to participate, but a program without incentives can also be successful. If your school has the means to offer incentives – great, if you don’t – that’s fine too.
Use an applicant tracking system to keep track of your candidate pool
In order to build a candidate pool, you’ll need to have an applicant tracking system or contact relationship management system in place where you can collect your candidates’ details, contact information and documents for future review.
If you don’t have a human resources system at your school that you manage on your own, there are plenty of third-party applicant tracking systems available at low or no cost that you can take advantage of.
For instance, Teach Away partner schools get access to our industry-leading applicant tracking system as part of a subscription.
As part of this package, for as long as schools maintain a Teach Away recruitment subscription they can collect applications, build their candidate pool and access their candidates’ profiles.
Last but not least, when you’re considering the recruitment methods to use to build your candidate pool, this is something to keep in mind. Some recruitment methods are designed specifically for filling immediate needs whereas others are better suited for building a candidate pool.
For instance, traditional recruitment methods used by many international schools such as recruitment fairs or recruitment agencies/recruiters are better suited to filling immediate vacancies rather than as part of a longer-term recruitment strategy.
On the other hand, using your school website, education job boards, and other inbound recruitment methods work better for building a candidate pool. Using these methods, you can attract candidates to your school and/or vacancies over time and continually build a candidate pool that you can turn to when hiring needs arise.
Stay proactive in your recruitment efforts by building a candidate pool now
While we don’t know how long this global pandemic will last for, the one thing we do know for sure is that eventually, it will end. And once it ends, we’ll all have to pick up the pieces again and rebuild.
So be prepared and don’t stop searching for your next talented teachers.
The most important takeaway right now is to keep pushing on with your school’s recruitment efforts and to better prepare for the academic year with a proactive approach to recruitment.
Having access to a growing pool of candidates can reduce a lot of future stress and save time and money.
There are many ways to prepare your candidate pool in advance as we laid out, as well, there’s a strategic approach you can adopt now that successfully attracts both passive and active candidates.
Never miss out on a great teacher by exploring year-round recruitment. Offering future vacancies that you need to fill for the upcoming academic year is a great place to start and can significantly extend your reach.
If you need any help with this, we’ve got you covered through a recruitment subscription service that gives you access to our applicant tracking system (APS).
Teach Away’s APS does all the heavy lifting when it comes to finding quality candidates quickly and building a robust candidate pool that you’ll always have access to when you need it most.
Don’t forget to grab your free copy of our International Education Recruitment Report 2020 for more insights and expert advice on recruiting great teacher candidates in 2020.
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