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Making the most of Job fair attendance with dwindling numbers of job-seekers

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Utah just completed another teacher fair in March.  The very apparent take away is there are not enough teachers coming out of the universities.  The Utah Teacher Fair begins registration for in-state schools the first of December, then out-of-state starting January 15th.  The fair was at full capacity within 10 days of opening registration to out-of-state.  Over the pursuing month and a half my waitlist grew to 30.  I had two schools cancel, during this time.  I made adjustments to the venue to try and accommodate as many as I could.

School districts, charter schools and private schools are scrambling to fill their schools with qualified teachers, while the universities are producing fewer and fewer teachers. Over the last several years the candidate attendance at the fairs have been at a steady decline.  Other locations across the country are even canceling fairs due to lack of job-seekers. 

Are teacher fairs still a useful tool for teacher recruitment? Teaching is a high-touch environment and both the teachers and those seeking teachers need the face to face interaction that virtual means just doesn't supply, so yes, teacher fairs should always have a high place in teacher recruitment.  So how do recruiters make the most of the dwindling numbers of job-seekers at fairs? 

  1. Be aware in advance of the fairs you would like to attend.  If your funds approval process takes a long time to work through, start in advance of the anticipated needs.  Even if you are thinking you will not need to hire, prepare in advance as though you will need to. Most fairs have a cancelation policy in place that you can take advantage if you really don't need to attend.
  2. Know the job-seekers that will most likely be in attendance.  Are they mostly newly graduated students, are they seasoned teachers, or a mix?  Are they likely wanting to stay local or are they willing to relocate?  What can you offer each of these demographics?
  3. If the venue provides concurrent interviews take advantage of the opportunity to speak with students one-on-one and away from the hub-bub of the fair itself.
  4. Pick the right people.  The behavior of the district/school rep will go a long way in portraying your culture to the possible hire.  Find people who are personable and friendly. 
  5. Do not sit behind your table waiting for individuals to come to you.  Be in front of your booth, speak with those that are walking by, don't be engaged with electronic devices or reading materials, waiting to be interrupted.
  6. Focus on job-seeker need.  Keep in mind the job-seeker is ultimately looking for is a job. A table full of toys, gadgets, swag and highly visible displays will not induce someone to work for you.  A nice display with take-away information and maybe a little swag will go a long way. Treat the job-seeker with respect, be informative about your school, benefits and area if you are not local.  Help them to understand why they would want to work in your district/school.
  7. Be prepared to follow-up.  Get the contact information and categorize those you speak with into likely groups that you can follow-up with as you fill your staffing needs.
  8. Come with as much authority to hire as you can.  Many of those you speak with that day will get offered positions.  Be prepared to offer as much as you can to entice them to work for your school.

Fairs do have cost associated with them that you may not have from advertising on your school website, but this a place where you meet a large quantity of qualified teachers as well as potential teachers face to face, in a way you cannot get from advertising on websites. Another benefit to attending particular fairs consistently is the opportunity to brand your school in the minds of job-seekers and future job- seekers.  You may not get the same number as in years past, however you are still seeing larger quantities at one time in a way you cannot in any other means. Remember most things in life are fluctuating and today's situation won't necessarily be tomorrow's. Continue to take advantage of the fair environment even though the job-seekers are decreasing in numbers, just work smarter.

Diana Maughan

Recruiting Coordinator

Utah State University

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