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Hunt for the Best and Brightest

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We talk in Human Resources about hiring and recruiting season. This is the official time when jobs are posted and candidates are "interviewing" officially for positions. But recruitment of the best and brightest talent for our students happens all year long. More importantly, it is happening by everyone.

I attended a wedding once and was seated at a table with a teaching rock star. This young lady screamed talent. She spoke confidently and with such pride about her 3rd grade students and her classroom. The love she had for the profession oozed out of the very fiber of her being. In our brief conversation I heard her speak about her colleagues and the collaboration they enjoy, the growth of students, the extra time and energy she puts into planning and her continuous improvement mindset. All of that over wedding cake and finger food! By the end of the evening I was giving her my card, making note of her name to follow-up and sending a text message to principals to be on the lookout for her application. In the course of the conversation, I made a point to work in the points of pride I have for our district, ways we support our teachers and every celebratory selling point I could think of. In essence, I was recruiting and she had been interviewed.

Our profession has become more and more competitive. Districts are on the hunt for the best and the brightest. Our children deserve no less! Candidates are competing for jobs with others from all over. We recognize the shortages in areas of math, science, special education and world languages. As recruiters we are trained to spot those and will readily trip over one another to recruit a strong candidate in any of these areas. In other not hard to fill areas where there are a plethora of candidates, the challenge is in screening to find the gem. This is where a continual mindset of recruitment comes into play for those making hiring decisions and a mindset that every day is an interview for candidates.

The recruiting task extends well beyond HR personnel. I am constantly on the lookout for talent. My ear is tuned for it. When I hear it, I lean in and listen for the open door ready to take the golden opportunity when it comes. I am careful in all things of how I speak of our organization. Even when we are encountering situations that are challenging, I don't share those outside of the safety net. I am cautious to not put our district or our profession in a negative light.

But this mindset extends beyond our Human Resources Directors in charge of recruiting. I love my team. We are growing recruiters and modeling this. We encourage building level administrators to participate in recruiting efforts by taking them to job fairs and helping them to learn to spot talent in a brief interaction. We recognize that we can't be everywhere at all times and if we want the best for our students, it is essential to multiply ourselves. We have given license to our administrators to adopt a continual mindset to spot talent and reach out when they see it.

So, candidates, recognize that every casual conversation is not what it seems. Every day and every encounter is a potential interview. In fact, that is my mantra, "Every day's an interview." Speak well of the children. Carry yourself positively. Play nice in the sandbox. When challenges arise, and invariably they will, interact with others as if the person watching you is making a hiring decision in that very interaction. A random encounter at a wedding reception could open the door for the career move you have been waiting for.

Tracey Grant

Director of Human Resources

Cherry Creek School District

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