You’ve written the job advert, posted it and you’re waiting for a steady stream of well-qualified applicants to inundate your inbox. But as you review your inbox and as the closing date approaches, you suddenly realise you've had no applications...
It’s a common situation in schools in the UK and you are not alone. This shortage of teachers has forced schools to rely heavily on supply agencies and has left many children without a permanent teacher, a situation that is unsustainable.
When recruiting in this candidate-driven market it is important to write an engaging, clear and concise job advert that makes your school stand out from the rest. This will enable you to attract the attention of relevant candidates (even those that are passive) and get the maximum amount of interest possible. Once you’ve got the right candidates looking at it, it needs to be clear and transparent so that the people who apply know what they are applying for. That way, you are more likely to get the sort of applicant you want!
Talk as an employer - speak to and appeal to the candidate by telling them what you can offer them in terms of Continuing Professional Development, support and development, workload balance, work-life balance and that they will be able to practice great teaching.
Did you know only 12 per cent of candidates move due to salary - try to highlight what you as an employer can offer in terms of 'experience'. This will appeal directly to the candidate as it’s personal.
Here are some things to consider:
It sounds so simple but how is this achieved? Below are a few hints and tips on how to write a good advert:
Use phrases like ‘you will be’ and ‘you will have,’ as opposed to ‘the successful candidate will…’. This helps the candidate to envision working in your school by addressing them directly.
This is your first chance to engage with candidates and spark their interest. How your position is summarised in the vacancies listing is crucial. This is where the important details need to be shown - location, salary and job title, term (permanent or temporary and full time or part time). Also, the opening line of your advert needs to be succinct and interesting.
It is also critical that your advert invite candidates to visit the school prior to application. It is a proven fact that getting a potential candidate to visit your school will give you a better chance of that candidate applying. So don’t leave this invitations out of the advert.
Keep this to around 40 words and talk about the position rather than the school. At this point the reader needs to be interested in the job and what it entails. The introduction grabs the attention of the reader quickly and leaves them with the impression that role is either for them or not. If this is for them they will carry on reading and their interest will grow. Consider and reflect in the advert, why someone would want to work for you?
Summarise the main duties of the job description succinctly. It needs to catch the candidates interest as soon as possible and make them aware if the role is right for them.
The advert does not need to cover all the duties of the role, it just needs to spark an interest and make them want to know more.
Who are you looking for? What experience, skills, and qualifications are you looking for in your ideal applicant?
What type of person are you looking for?
Remember throughout the advert to use personal talk like 'you' and 'not the post holder' or 'we seek', instead use 'you will'. Also, be careful not to use words that could be considered discriminatory against certain groups, e.g. age, gender or disability.
Also, don’t list everything on the person specification - the essential qualifications and key skills will be fine.
Bear in mind that research shows applicants take literal notice of this area and you can affect your response rate dramatically with just a few carefully chosen words.
Culture is paramount to candidates - particularly younger demographics. However, simply stating your school has a great culture isn’t going to seal the deal.
You need to show your culture, but through words (we know, that’s a tricky one to grasp!). Give examples of how you invest in your team, how achievements are celebrated, the support available and any 'extra-curricular' initiatives organised for staff, like team days out and events.
Benefits don’t just mean salary!
In today’s market candidates want to know much more than the salary that’s on offer. For example, they will want to know what training and development opportunities will be available to them? Do you offer salary sacrifice schemes (childcare, cycle2work)? Are there social events and is there career development on offer?
Provide the applicant with clear instructions on how to apply.
A contact for an informal discussion or instructions on how to arrange a visit to the school will also help to attract applicants because they will view you as a school who is open, welcoming and approachable. All of these are positive good attributes for a potential employer to display!
The closing date is important for obvious reasons but adding an interview date will also help an applicant to plan ahead.
It is critical that you include appropriate wording to cover your commitment to safeguarding of children (including Childcare Disclosure Regulations if relevant to your setting).
This is so applicants know you are compliant with the necessary statutory requirements and that they will be expected to co-operate with checks.
It is critical that you set aside time to write your advert. Like any piece of work it needs to be thought out thoroughly.
It’s critical to your school so give it the time and attention it requires. Rushed adverts will appear so and will not attract the type of teacher you are looking for.
Think like an applicant looking for a post in education.
Remember, you must put yourself in the shoes of your candidates. If you finish your advert and it doesn’t capture your interest in the role, why would it capture theirs? Think about what attracted you to your next education role and school. Think as if it was you applying.
There are a lot of things to consider in an advert but you must keep the advert short and succinct.
It needs to catch the applicant’s eye and get them interested in the role. You want to be left in a place where their next step is to get in touch to arrange for an information pack and to come to site for a visit.
This is a lot to take in, so we've created some example job adverts for you to use as inspiration for your own adverts.
You can also find sample recruitment packs below that put what we have talked about into practice.
Example job adverts
- Example job advert - teacher of computer science
- Example job advert - teacher of maths
- Example job advert - class teacher
- Example job advert - teacher of science
- Example job advert - deputy headteacher
If you have any further questions or would like further guidance about this, or wish to talk to someone about anything to do with recruitment, please just get in touch.
Where to advertise
After considering all the aspects of your advert and putting it together the next and possibly most important thing to consider is where do you advertise it?
It is crucial that you post it where it will attract the most relevant interest. You need to think about this carefully as the cost of advertising is unfortunately never cheap. There are a multitude of sites that are available to you to advertise on but it is critical that you consider the return on any investment. With this in mind, we have provided you a short breakdown of sites we currently use that are either free or available on a pay-per-use basis:
This a relatively new site which has been created by the Department for Education to help all schools recruit. It is free to use and is currently the one site that all trainee teachers and newly qualified teachers are been advised to look on. The aim is that eventually it will surpass TES as the number one teaching recruitment site.
We strongly recommend that all of your vacancies are listed on this site. We recognise that the site will take time to become the ‘go to’ site for all teacher vacancies but it will be a great tool for you in the future and hopefully remove the burdens and costs around recruiting teachers. We need to support its growth by adding all vacancies to the site.
Tes is currently the most utilised site in the teaching sector. The only drawback on it is the price. We would advise that this is utilised on very hard to fill roles in secondary schools. Due to its national reach it is good for the attraction of candidates from outside of the area.
Local authority and neighbouring local authority sites
Local authority and neighbouring local authority sites can be useful in the attraction of experienced local teachers.
Talk to your local ITT’s about the possibility of them sending out your adverts to there soon to qualify teachers.
Your school website
Your school website has to be high quality - providing current and relevant information, not only for parents, but bear in mind it’s the first place perspective candidates visit when they are considering your school as a great place to work.
Have you considered a 'Work for us page'?
This should detail items like:
- Commitments from the school around support and development;
- Information about Continuing Professional Development and courses on offer for teachers;
- Add a letter from the headteacher welcoming potential candidates to come in and visit your school; and
- You could provide video snap shots from current teachers sharing their positive experiences around working at the school.
Link your social media pages on your website. Facebook and Twitter are popular within the education sector and you can create a solid network of education professionals through these sites. You should also follow other educational support organisations such as the Doncaster Opportunity Area and Department for Education - this will help you understand what networking opportunities and initiatives on offer to help promote your school.
The one place we would not advise is local printed press. With the shift to online advertisement, printed press adverts will not reach out to the wider market and you will not see a good return on the cost.