Everyone knows that ECE professionals are in it for the money, right?
But seriously, folks…given that budgets are tight and good teachers are hard to find, how do you tip the odds in your favor? Here are 5 solid ideas:
1. Solicit referrals from current staff. If you have one of those wonderful, one-in-a-million teachers on staff, thank your lucky stars and treat her (or him) like gold. And then get the word out that you’re looking to hire more people just like her. Great people often know other great people who would be an excellent fit for your center.
Even if you have an upcoming opening that isn’t public knowledge yet, make it clear that you’re always interested in hearing about great teachers who might be looking for work. If they’re truly exceptional, you may even be able to create a spot of some sort for them until something more official opens up.
2. Offer referral bonuses. Big ones. How much is a fantastic teacher worth to your center over the long term? A lot. Which is why it makes sense to invest at least $250-$300 as a referral bonus for each new hire who stays with your center a minimum of 6 months. And don’t limit referral bonuses to current staff, either – parents can also be a good source of teacher referrals.
3. Get on LinkedIn and craigslist. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, set one up ASAP. It’s free and a great way to connect with other ECE professionals around the country (and even around the world). If you’re looking for new staff, chances are good that someone in your network, or someone connected to them, will have some ideas and leads.
And craigslist is great because you can narrowly target your job posting by geography and industry, and it gets a ton of traffic. Also, it ranges from cheap to free to post a job there, depending on where you live.
Other good sources of leads: Your local CCR&R network, as well as area colleges with ECE programs.
4. Be specific about what you’re looking for. If you want someone who’s excited about this field and truly passionate about ECE, then say so. Write an ad that explains why your center is special, what you’re looking for, and what you can offer the right candidate. Be specific. Be genuine. Be funny, if that’s your thing. Just don’t be boring. Ho-hum ads tend to attract ho-hum applicants.
And do be careful not to run astray of the state and federal anti-bias laws. You can specify that you want someone “energetic,” for example, but asking for a “recent college grad” is an invitation to an age discrimination lawsuit.
5. Throw in a few hurdles. By “hurdles,” I mean list a few specific tasks for the people who respond to your ad:
- “Please include a resume, a detailed cover letter, and the names and contact information for three professional references.”
- “Please provide answers to the three questions below.”
- “Please explain why first attracted you to this field, and what you can bring to XYZ Child Care Center.”
While the hurdles are important because they provide valuable info about the job applicants (particularly cover letters), they’re even more important because they act as a screening device.
Anyone who doesn’t follow your directions exactly should be eliminated from contention, period. People who are unwilling or unable to follow directions set forth in a job ad tend to be similarly lax once they actually get hired.
Readers, what strategies do you recommend to find the best teachers? Leave your thoughts below in the comments.
Coming next week: Tips for successful interviews. Stay tuned!