In a recent report, Ofcom revealed that digital news is as popular as newspapers in the UK, and the trend is now moving away from traditional forms of information and news consumption. With mobile devices and computers continuing to be the means of acquiring information, the way teachers look for new jobs is also changing. Schools are being more pro-active and creative in finding ways to recruit, as Andy Lewis explains – in this extract from the June 2014 edition of UKEdMagazine – digital services are the future in how people will recruit and apply for jobs.
From February to May the teacher job market gets busy. Retirement letters are handed in, applications are submitted, interviews are conducted and appointments made. It can be a hectic, stressful and potentially expensive time for schools. However, like many things, through necessity, things may be changing. In the future, will you look in the same way and in the same places for your new job, or for your new recruit?
This article is inspired by two personal events. Firstly, a teacher in my department retires in August after many years of long service in our school. We wanted the very best candidate to replace her and wanted them to not only take on the job of classroom teacher, but also lead the chaplaincy in our school. Secondly, an internal position for Head of Year came up that I saw as perfect career progression for me.
There was once a day when the only real place teachers looked for jobs was via the job listing in educational newspapers. Each Friday the ‘bumper’ job sections featured countless jobs. However given the budget constraints that many schools now find themselves with, it can be hard to justify the minimum cost of around £200 to advertise. More prominent adverts go above £1000, which may be worthwhile for a headteacher, but this may not be feasible for every classroom teacher.
Many staff do still use these traditional outlets and the targeted ‘alerts’ still arrive in my email inbox each week. However other education supplements such as that in the Guardian continue to grow and searching for ‘education jobs’ in Google throws up an increasing number of recruitment sites, illustrating that schools and aspiring teachers now have a range of options.
Some schools are also increasingly using various recruitment agencies; not just for temporary positions but for more permanent ones too. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these agencies are more than happy to sponsor TeachMeet events where they can speak to staff about their services. They must work, or schools simply wouldn’t be paying their fees. Some schools even use these firms to travel to Ireland and meet with large numbers of potential candidates before calling a selection to interview.
However, is there potential for schools and even individual teachers to provide their own advertising via the internet and particularly social media?
Many companies now advertise via Twitter, Facebook, Gumtree and LinkdIn and there is no reason why schools cannot join in. There are Twitter accounts dedicated to retweeting job adverts, which often link to school websites. Facebook groups also provide a forum for adverts to be shared too. Some schools, particularly for leadership roles, are also looking to LinkedIn. By using a variety of social media and professional networks, it is possible to reach a large proportion of teachers.
I put together a post advertising the job on my personal teaching blog, then got my school to ensure the application form and job description was on the school website so I could link back to it. I then began sharing the advert on Twitter and asked a few prominent education tweeters to help out too. As a result, it was one of my most popular blog posts and I know a number of people applied, or considered applying as a result. It was definitely a success for us.
UKEdChat has now started up a new jobs section using a far more affordable pricing structure than some other services. It is still a relatively new part of the site, and one that does depend on potential applicants being part of the UKEdChat community. However, as this community continues to grow through teachers choosing to engage in their own CPD, perhaps schools will find exactly the person they are looking for this way.
Twitter can also be a way of ‘letting people know’ about jobs, and while it is important to remain professional when looking for new staff, Twitter does offer new networking opportunities and possibilities. It’s an easy way of keeping an eye on what is available in the local area. People often send Direct Messages saying, “Have you seen…?”, “Would you be interested in…?”.
I didn’t want to make a big thing of seeking advice, on a Friday night I sent one short tweet asking that if anyone was a Head of Year, could they get in contact with me.
By the end of the evening, I had an offer to proof-read my application letter plus various questions, tips and other exemplar letters being emailed to me. I was genuinely overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers. The variety of people who offered their help was also wide ranging, a pastoral deputy head, a head of KS4 who line manages several Heads of Year, both existing and aspiring, many of whom had struggled first time round and were happy to share their mistakes. What more could I ask for?
It is important to discuss things with people in your own school, but sometimes…
Andy Lewis is currently Assistant Subject Leader in RE at a Catholic secondary school in Essex. Find him on Twitter @iTeachRE and his blog MrLewisRE.co.uk.