Most industries will have a certain way of recruiting new employees, but how does it work in the huge sector that is education, and how has this evolved over time?
Before technology birthed the internet and subsequently opened a new age in recruitment, searching for lecturers involved good old-fashioned pen and paper. In the 70s, for example, teaching advertisements were placed in weekly publications, education magazines aimed at education professionals and local papers.
To find a vacant teaching role, you either had to thumb through the newspapers, or contact the college directly. Interestingly, you could apply for specific colleges, or to specific counties where you would be allocated to a college that needed you. This process could become time-consuming, or leave you lingering in limbo waiting for a college to contact you.
Unsurprisingly, the interview process for teaching has changed dramatically too. Once upon a time you would be asked to attend an interview, asked general questions about you and your experience, and then offered the role on the day.
A contact of mine (a retired teacher) told me, “It was very straightforward; almost as if they were looking for someone whose personality would fit in rather than their teaching skills!”
However, teaching interviews have significantly evolved throughout the past few decades and now the process is much more comprehensive. Not only do you receive a formal interview (usually in a panel form composed of the Principal, Head of Department and/or a member of the governing body), you’ll also be asked to teach an observed lesson, a Q&A with students and a group discussion (possibly in a fishbowl scenario) with the other candidates. Although this practice is a little more daunting, it certainly offers a deeper insight into how the candidate will perform in the classroom and how they engage with students. Character may still be a key factor, but the focus has shifted to performance, rather than personality.
The interview game is also changing from the perspective of potential candidates. It’s now actively encouraged for lecturers to visit a school prior to interview to get a feel for the college and its ethos. Talking informally to members of staff gives you the opportunity to see where you could fit in. The college isn’t just interviewing you; you’re interviewing them.
A common theme that runs through teaching recruitment is the reliance on personal recommendations. Quite often, colleges will be exasperated searching to fill vacancies and will turn to current teaching staff to refer a friend. Some even offering incentives to existing staff members to find suitable candidates. It could be speculated that this is exacerbated by the current shortage in lecturers and colleges are often finding themselves struggling to find a replacement before the next term begins. A friend of mine was contacted because someone was on long-term sick and the team was asked if they knew anyone. She was supposed to be there for half a term, part-time, and ended up staying there for nine years.
‘They were just glad to find someone.’
Personally, I was offered a teaching role in-house whilst working as a learning support assistant. They knew my intentions to apply for my PGCE and due to the sheer lack of English teachers available at the time, offered me the position without interview. After I left to embark on a different career, my partner at the time (who was still working there) was asked if I would come back for six months with an immediate start. I politely declined but it made me wonder, is this the most efficient way to combat a recruitment crisis? What needs to change?
With the 21st century rolling forward, paper applications have become a thing of the past as online job boards take over. Although colleges may still rely on staff recommendations to recruit new staff, most lecturers rely on user-friendly job boards to search for their future role. So how has the evolution and digitisation of recruitment benefitted lecturers and colleges?
The possibility of having only one form to fill in, that is pre-populated for you when applying for different roles, is considerably less time consuming and far more appealing for busy lecturers and PGCE students.
As online job boards exceed other methods of job hunting, the evolution of teaching recruitment cannot stop there. Being the leading further education online recruitment service and trusted by over 7,500 schools and colleges in the UK and worldwide, FEjobs is determined to continue to evolve to make life just that little bit easier for teaching recruitment by providing:
An attractive, pre-populated form that makes applying for multiple jobs faster and easier.
Job page for a college’s website
A Jobs Widget for their vacancies page is supplied and candidates can be found all in one place.
Candidates who create a profile can join regional Talent Pools which colleges can access and e-mail their adverts directly to them. Job hunters can also place themselves in specific colleges’ Talent Pools.
Colleges can boost their adverts across the FEjobs website and social media to garner more interest in their vacancy from a wider audience.
Colleges are alerted to how many candidates are in the Talent Pool that match their uploaded role, based on the candidate’s profile and their filtered jobs.
Candidates can also sign up and receive notifications for jobs they’re interested in, based on their previously uploaded profile preferences, which saves time searching and scrolling.
Conclusively, technology is now an invaluable asset to recruiters, colleges and lecturers alike. As life gets busier and workloads increase, taking the aggravation out of the application process could possibly be the best thing that has happened throughout the evolution of teaching recruitment.
About the author
After completing a BA in Creative Writing and a Masters in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester, Tammy worked as a Learning Support Assistant, with a focus on helping students develop their literacy skills. She then taught as an English teacher at an all-boys comprehensive school in Berkshire. Now she has turned her sights to a career in writing, with education at the heart of it.