As contract season fast approaches, now is a great time for both schools and job seekers to focus in on exactly what they are looking for. As I have written in previous blogs and publications, hiring has become more complex due to a variety of factors that impact both job seekers and employers. With a low national unemployments rate, increase in the number of people involed in the “gig” economy, and significant changes in corporate policies that are attractive to Gen Y and Gen Z workers, boarding schools are in an interesteing postion. So too are potential teachers. In this sense, boarding schools must highlight the “lifestyle” found at boarding schools if they are to attract and hire the best employees. Salaries at most schools are not going to be able to compete with the for-profit sector nor are boarding schools going to be able to offer the flexibility being found in the corporate world with regard to hours, remote working, etc. However, this is not all bad. What is the best part about working at a boarding school? Lifestyle! Interacting with young people! Community! As a school, highlighting these dimensions will be key to finding the right people for your program.
From the viewpoint of the jobseeker, now is a good time to look for schools that have a culture and community that fit what you are looking for. Does the school offer new faculty support? Is there room for growth? Does the school leadership have a philosophy that aligns with your values? Does the school offer tuition remission, graduate study support, summer travel/enrichment, childcare? Is the school a forward thinking organization or traditional in its function and mindset? Would you feel comfortable there? What is the makeup of the faculty at the school with regard to gender, age, and diversity? Is this an issue for you?
Given the data that suggests younger workers remain at jobs less than three years, how are schools approaching potential rapid turnover? Are they okay with it or are they working hard to hold onto talented employees? If so, what does this look like for your school? Stipends are attractive, but only go so far. Staffing modifcations work, but take a time investment on the part of schools to get the pieces right. Little items really pay off, such as allowing new faculty a voice or opportunity for leadership. As well, a single reduction in any one area can mean the difference between losing a potential hire or talented faculty member or keeping them on for several years.
Hiring and job searches are both complex and stressful, however, when candidates and schools forus on “fit” and “feel”, matches can be found that reward both sides of the table. Job seekers need to be realistic AND clear regarding what they are looking for. Schools, on the other hand, need to come to understand that hiring has changed and needs to be more individual when pertianing to candidates. Both parties need to be honest and clear. Both parties need to be realistic about the current climate surrounding hiring and jobs. If this occurs, schools will be able to hire faculty that add to the organization and teachers will be able to find a community in which to work, live, and thrive.