Scotland (and many other parts of the world) is currently facing a teacher recruitment crisis. The crisis is currently the most prominent in the state education sector.
There are lots of reasons for this including:
- Significant pressure on local authority budgets (leading to staffing cuts);
- Lack of incentives (such as relocation expenses, help with housing or the creation of a rural living allowance);
- Poor succession planning from Government (not enough new teachers in the system to replace an aging work force);
- Teachers being attracted to more appealing jobs in the private sector (including independent and international schools); and
- Poor advertising.
Some schools who have struggled to fill posts have turned to more imaginative ways of advertising to recruit the best candidates to the jobs at their schools.
At Kingussie High we have had success in recent years using Social Media to attract an outstanding group of teachers from a diverse range of subjects to our small rural school. This article outlines some of the things that we have learnt along the way about using Social Media for recruitment.
Lesson One: Social Media doesn’t recruit staff on its own.
Over the years I have heard lots of people say they are going to create a ‘viral video campaign’ to recruit a member of staff to their school. Yet when you look at the total YouTube views they rarely reach double figures. The reason for this is that social media doesn’t recruit staff on its own.
The schools that have success in using social media for recruitment will be the schools that already use social media well. They will have active Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as a modern looking website. Over time they will have built up a large social following of both current and past pupils, staff, parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents and members of the local community. This ‘tribe’ of social brand ambassadors will be the main reason that your video gets 100s, 1000s or 1,000,000s of views rather than just a couple of dozen.
Lesson Two: Your Social Media Campaign is only as good as where you directed people to on the web.
Importantly, where you direct people to is not necessarily the advert or the application form. Lets face it (particularly in the public sector) most adverts and application forms are boring and sterile. You need to direct people to a web page or a web page of links that really sells your school and very importantly, as a school leader, sells why people might want to work for you.
We use the simple www.kingussiehigh.org.uk/joinus holding page as the hub of our social media campaign. It links to supplementary information about each post, provides a nice statement about the school, links to some other fun content (to help people get a feel for the team they will be joining) and of course links to the more traditional job and person specification (hosted on www.myjobscotland.gov.uk - where all of the Scottish public sector teaching jobs are listed).
Lesson Three – if you want to increase your viral audience you need to push the boundaries just enough to not to get the sack.
Remember, on the web controversial is often king (that is why there are so many cat videos on YouTube).
I once advertised an English teachers post and on the web version of the supplementary information I purposely muddled up ‘their’, ‘there’ & ‘they’re’ and ‘to’, ‘two’ & ‘too’. The advert spread like wild fire with lots of people keen to point out how ‘grammatically incorrect’ it was and how ‘literacy standards’ must be very poor in the Highlands of Scotland. The people who understood the humour were also the ones who made it to the bottom of the advert and discovered the disclaimer!
Here is an example of some supplementary information that we sent out to accompany a Depute Head Post. The online chatter it generated called it everything from ‘refreshing’ to a ‘disgrace!’ We had tens of thousands of views and in the end 24 applicants (many of whom would have been worthy of the position).
Lesson Four – Pay for on-line advertising to promote & boost your posts.
We run our social media adverts thought Facebook. It costs me £150 - £250 to put a small advert in the local paper. I normally throw about £30 - £50 on any Facebook advert. Don’t get me wrong; sometimes I think the newspaper is worth it. This is particularly the case if I am trying to recruit someone locally for a support role (office, technician, etc.). But if I want to attract a teacher from outside the area then Facebook wins hands down every time for me.
It is really important not to forget the above lessons one, two and three though. The bigger your social reach the more reach you will get with your paid advert due to its magnifying effect. Also, don’t forget to make your landing page appealing – clicks are one thing but you want people to dig deeper and apply.
The great thing about Facebook advertising is that you can set a budget and also target where and when your advert will appear on other Facebook users profiles.
It is pay ‘per click’ so you only actually pay when someone clicks on your advert and they link to your landing page. You can target on a number of levels such as male or female, by age range, by geographical location, by interest or by a little bit of everything.
Once you have ‘boosted’ your advert and set it in motion you can track the amount of social vs paid views.
Lesson Five – Use your own social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to further promote your advert.
Basically, ask people to share within their networks. This will increase your social shares and add value to your paid advert.
- The time of the year that you advertise is really important. This is particularly important if relocation is going to be required.
- First impressions count – what shows up in Google when you ‘Google your School’.
Digital impressions are first impressions these days...
- Lots of other links about using Social Media in school and education here.
About this post:
In 2017 I promised to write more on olliebray.com (which is also currently undergoing a digital overhaul in the background). I’ve committed to this new series of school improvement stories, which is really about the lessons I have learnt, mistakes I have made and things I want to share from my leadership of Kingussie High School. There will be twelve posts in total (published on the last day of each month during 2017).
January 2017 – Using Social Media for Recruitment.
February 2017 – Raising Attainment through Sport.
March 2017 – Partnership Working in the Senior Phase.
April 2017 – Constructing your Senior Phase Curriculum.
May 2017 – Using Technology to Improve learning (1).
June 2017 – Using Technology to Improve learning (2)
July 2017 – Understanding Deprivation to Improve Attainment.
August 2017 - Improving Positive Destinations.
September 2017 - Developing 3-18 Skills.
October 2017 - Making the most of your ‘local context’.
November 2017 - Developing Middle Leadership.
December 2017 - Improving progression in the BGE.