Recruiting Right

Recruiting season is upon us. Having grown up in international schools and had parents who were teachers and administrators in this circuit, I have to admit, this time of year is nothing short of exciting for me. It is an opportunity to dream, (Where will I go next?!) a chance to reach and stretch yourself, (It never occurred to us to live there!) and a good way to stay connected to the transience so many of our students feel, (Packing, moving, making new friends… blah!).  To be honest, I love the hunt of the next job and the thrill of seeking out the new place. When March rolls around and the question marks are answered, I’m always a little sad.

That’s the candidate me.

Sitting on the other side of the table, acting as a recruiter, it is a different experience. Beginning as early as October, the puzzle of who might leave and who might want to come begins to form. As intentions (dreams) become clearer and we know which positions we need to fill, the race to find the right people with the right fit starts in earnest. There is so much to do and so little time. Combine that with the pressure to find great teachers who will inspire and motivate kids and colleagues, and suddenly things are very serious. That’s why I feel so fortunate to have learned some tips and tricks from veterans last year. Here is what make sense to me both as a recruiter and as a candidate:

Go fast to go slow– It is a race out there for the best people. Knowing what your school is looking for, and needs is a key place to start. Notice I said “what” and not “who”, that’s because this phase needs to happen before you ever get caught up in particular people. Just like good writers develop characters before they begin to write about them, recruiters need to have a sense of what kind of person they need to move the organization forward. From attitude to experience, determining the type of person who you are looking for helps a recruiter focus. (For a candidate, being able to clearly articulate the type of person you are, does the same. It helps us see you beyond the bulleted resume.)

Check references.  We all know what a small, small world it is in our international schools system. Six-degrees of separation often isn’t necessary to arrive at someone who knows someone who knows you on this circuit. As a candidate, having solid references which can speak both to your practice and attitude are vital to finding a good fit. For recruiters, taking the time provide those honest portraits are good for all of us.

Think like a human to find good people. Unlike many professions out there, we want people who can work with people. As recruiters, we have to model that every step of the way. Just as we ask teachers to look at the whole child, we need recruiters to look at the whole person sitting in front of them. Most candidates are on tight deadlines themselves, balancing current employers or family needs with a potential school’s recruiting schedule. Paying attention to the needs of a candidate is not just good business; it is the right thing to do. Communication is key. We are all busy. Bottom line, no school is so “good” you don’t need to be great at recruiting. Treating people well, even if it means helping them feel valued as you tell them they aren’t what your are looking for, matters.

Good luck to everyone this season.

Photo credit: http://www1.yorksolutions.net/Portals/115255/images/love%20my%20job.jpg

About Jen Munnerlyn

Jen Munnerlyn is the Elementary Principal at the American School of Warsaw. Her international experience began back in 1980 when her parents first started teaching overseas. Jen blogs about her own experiences as a Third Culture Kid, the adventures of being the mother of a TCK, and about elementary education in an international school setting. Her picture book The Adventure Begins, about the first day at an international school, is a favorite among adults and students abroad.
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