It is Spring, and in the education world, that means that planning for next year is in full effect. Staffing is typically a big to-do item on any school admin’s list (and budget spreadsheet), and it can sometimes feel like finding the right person for your district is an impossible task. This feeling is even more acute when you’re looking to fill a position for which the applicant pool often runs dry. Like, say, oh, I don’t know . . . SLPs? 😉
We’ve talked to hundreds of school admin over the years and also done our fair share of SLP recruiting. We have now distilled those experiences into 4 essential things to remember when we’re hiring:
Think long term
The primary action administrators take when they have a vacancy? Hire someone who is a good fit for the program and wants the job today. And then, when that someone moves on in a year or two, you do it all over again. Administrators who think long-term, though, understand that some positions require a strategic investment of time. Sure, nurturing the interests and education of someone local can take years to pay off in a highly qualified provider. However, those are years that will pass without needing to fill the position again. The biggest enemy to this strategy? Turn-over of administrators. Long-term commitment needs to start at the top.
Know your shortcomings
High caseloads? Demanding community? No money for professional development? The best administrators know the concerns about their program intimately. They also know that reputations spread. Applicants may not point out your programʼs flaws in the interview but be assured that they are thinking of them. Bring up your solutions when youʼre recruiting and donʼt shy away from discussing complaints. Spend time illustrating your commitment to solutions.
Talk about more than the salary
How much money your new recruit is going to make while working for you is certainly an important topic. It just isnʼt the only topic. Talk about opportunities within your district to do research, to share information, to collaborate, to problem-solve, to work autonomously. Take the time to share with them how theyʼll be able to grow and shine and truly make a difference in the lives of kids
Remember that culture trumps everything
While most districts try to lure staff with similar-looking benefits and salary scales, the smart programs also highlight the great staff they already have in place. Offer your serious candidates the opportunity to have lunch with your best specialists, time with a potential CF supervisor, or the chance to sit in on a district professional development event with future colleagues. We make decisions about our work environment based in part on how weʼre made to feel. And no benefit package sounds as good as a healthy culture feels.
These tips are now neatly packaged into the free resource below. It has been written with SLPs in mind, but these are really best practices for every type of hiring you’re doing. This has been a winning strategy for us, and we hope it helps you, too!
Click on the image below to download a pdf.
This post was updated for clarity April 2021