CHAPTER 1:Recruiting Make Recruiting an Ongoing Priority
Program directors with limited or no human-resource experience are often required to hire staff. As Harry Chambers points out in his book Finding, Hiring, and Keeping Peak Performers, being a program director or center manager “does not automatically guarantee that you have the skills to identify talent and ability or to interview, recruit, and retain highly productive people.” Most program directors are required to hire staff, despite lacking the necessary skill set to recruit and hire the right people for the jobs. Individuals without the proper training and experience in recruiting and hiring techniques will ultimately revert to their limited knowledge base and gut feelings.
Some program directors think that they can hire new employees based on the way the person makes them feel during the interview. They may say, “I can look someone in the eyes and tell whether they’re lying to me or whether they’re going to do a good job.” Chambers asserts that “hiring by psychic power, relying on instinct and hunch, is a deadly and costly managerial behavior.” Furthermore, using the technique of recruiting and hiring individuals based on your gut feeling will not attract the best individual for the position. As Taylor and Stern write, “People matter, and yet people issues, including recruiting and retaining employees, are often put on the back burner. To realize the full potential of your organization, you need to put the right people in place and then develop them to their maximum.” Program directors must develop their recruiting and hiring skills. Hiring and retaining the right people will create a better work environment for the staff, resulting in a more productive and profitable center.
According to Chambers, “In the past, recruiting efforts occurred only on an incremental or as-needed basis. If there was a need to fill a position, recruiting began and then was suspended until the next need arose. Today, your search for peak performers is a never-ending journey . . . Even in the absence of immediate need, you must constantly anticipate the needs of tomorrow. The peak performer you hire next year may be the result of a recruiting seed you planted today. You never know when exceptional candidates will emerge and present opportunities for unexpected growth or organizational upgrade.” Recruiting and hiring new employees is not a one-time occurrence; it has to be an ongoing process and recognized as an important part of doing business.
Set aside funds in your budget for recruiting. The recruiting budget should be based on the type of recruiting that you are going to implement. For example, recruiting events will cost more than just posting a job opening on the center’s website. Therefore, the amount that is budgeted should be flexible to meet the needs of the center. The recruiting budget may start off small and increase as the center grows. It is important to have a line item in the budget for recruiting so that when the time arises, the center has the funds to recruit for new employees. Chambers asserts, “Recruiting is an expensive task. You must invest wisely in your efforts. Pursuing unfertile areas can waste significant dollars; effective recruiting can be conducted cost effectively if it is well planned.” Effective, ongoing recruiting is worth the expense. Evaluate your recruitment budget regularly to ensure that the funds are being used in the most productive way. Decide whether your efforts are generating the results that you want or if a new direction is needed to recruit new employees. Know your job market. Consider, for example, the compensation package you are offering in light of what the job market is looking for. Julia McGovern and Susan Shelly, authors of The Happy Employee: 101 Ways for Managers to Attract, Retain, and Inspire the Best and Brightest, suggest, “When looking to attract and hire hard-to-find employees, you have to consider not only what you’re looking for but what they are looking for as well. Every person who applies for a job brings with them their own needs and circumstances. When working to hire for hard-to-fill positions, you should consider the circumstances of applicants and what might serve as incentives to get them on board.” For example, the pay scale may be fixed, which would make additional incentives beneficial when recruiting new hires for the center. Incentives such as a signing bonus of $75.00 or $100.00 can make a difference. The signing bonus can also be incremental, depending on the position. Twenty-five dollars a year could be allocated for teachers each quarter as a bonus, so that at the end of the first year they would receive a total of $100.00. Distributing the funds quarterly will potentially increase retention, and money will not be given to individuals who leave the center after they receive the signing bonus. If you choose not to have the signing bonus distributed over the course of one year, then anyone who receives the signing bonus must sign a contract for a minimum of one year of employment. If they leave or are fired due to their actions within the first year, they will be required to return the signing bonus. Additional vacation days or personal time off (PTO) can also be an incentive for individuals who have years of experience or an advanced degree. Dominic Cooper, Ivan Robertson, and Gordon Tinline, authors of Recruitment and Selection, emphasize both quality and quantity, urging organizations to attract as large a field of suitably qualified and experienced applicants as possible.
Finding Suitable Candidates
Before the program director can hire the right person for the center, an appropriate recruiting process must already be in place. This recruiting process, including word of mouth, should promote the center as a great place to work. Maintain a list of individuals you can contact when there is an opening, and let the current employees know that they can refer friends and acquaintances to apply for open positions at the center. Place open positions on social-media sites. Have a place on the center’s website where candidates can apply for positions and post their résumés. Develop a relationship with professors at local colleges and universities, online-program professors, and teachers at the local high school. The recruiting process will also depend on the position that you are trying to fill. If you are looking for a teacher, the recruiting process will focus more in the direction of universities or colleges and websites for professionals. If you are looking for assistant caregivers, these candidates can have less training and experience in most cases. Therefore, the recruiting process for assistant teachers can be directed toward high school and undergraduate college students. Program directors must target the population with the skill set that they are looking for. Identify the exact skills that you are seeking so that when the job is posted,
it will list the specific qualifications required.
Program directors should be continuously recruiting for new employees to work at the center. As Cooper, Robertson, and Tinline point out, “Word of mouth is still an important means for finding new staff and is still frequently used by those seeking work.” McGovern and Shelly recommend using conferences, meetings, and professional societies, as these are great resources for identifying potential candidates, as well as terrific places to promote your company. Promote your center as a great place to work and explain why. Provide the reasons why working for your center would be beneficial for a candidate’s career. “The key is to get your company’s name out there in a positive way, so that people want to work for you,” say McGovern and Shelly. Recruitment will not work unless you are networking with others within the field, which is why “Your networking activities should never cease,” Chambers asserts. “Become known as a reference point that people can use when they learn of others who may be seeking employment. Do not expect this to be a one-time activity; you must constantly be renewing and replenishing your network sources.” Keep a list of names and contact information for potential candidates. Maintain a list of job fairs and contact information for college and university recruitment advisors and local professional groups that you can reach out to when looking for a candidate.
Develop a connection with a local recruiting firm that serves your area. The firm may not represent early childhood professionals; however, you can provide them with the opportunity to expand their clientele by providing qualified candidates for your center. Contact your local high schools and offer the center as a place for the students to complete volunteer hours. Sunny Fader and Angela Erickson, authors of 365 Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining, Motivating, and Rewarding Your Volunteers, suggest, “Recruiting is the key to effective volunteer programs, because how you recruit your volunteers affects the kind of relationship you are going to have with them.” Inviting and supporting volunteer involvement provides the opportunity for the center to be a part of the community, and it will look good on a student’s college application. What better way to promote your program than by having students from the community working at the center? Also, retirees with an early childhood background may want to work part time and in some cases full time. Having a trained professional working at the center can potentially reduce the amount of training required.
Connect with local community colleges and universities, and develop internship opportunities for the students at the center. Visit the campuses to meet the professors and teaching staff. This will allow you the opportunity to promote your center as a quality place for students to learn how to interact with children and will help you find students who can work various hours when needed, either part time or as floaters. Once you have developed a connection with the professors at these colleges and universities, offer the center as a learning environment for the students. This will give them the opportunity to volunteer at the center and to complete their required observations of the children and the staff interactions. Ask the professors to provide you with feedback, both on areas where improvements are needed within the program and on things that are working well. This unbiased assessment of your program will be beneficial for staff development and the overall growth of the center.
Many online programs offer early childhood certificates and degrees. Reach out to these programs and offer your center as a practicum location for students in their programs. Many students take online courses through colleges and universities that are not local to them and thus do not have child-care centers for the students to receive hands-on training and experience. Therefore, if you provide a partnership, the institution will have a center where it can send the students for observation and hands-on training. This will provide you with the opportunity to work with teachers who are new to the field and eager to learn.
Training and promoting staff from within the center is an option that should be used whenever possible. Before the students have completed a child-development program, you can hire them as assistant teachers because they are taking early childhood or child-development courses. Allow them to work at the center; once they have completed their education, you will have a qualified staff member who can fill a lead-teacher position when one becomes available. This is the ideal situation for both the center and the assistant. The center will not have to recruit and train a new lead teacher because a current assistant teacher already meets the requirements. Recognize that parents do not like change, and if the staff member is familiar with the children and the families, it makes for a smoother transition.
It is also a good idea to advertise your center on social media and local early childhood sites. Advertising on social-media sites can promote awareness of the center and provide the opportunity for interested candidates to learn valuable information about the program. The more individuals learn about the program, the higher the chances are that they will apply for a position at the center. Offer a location on your website for interested candidates to upload their résumés. This will provide you with an ongoing list of interested individuals, and you can review their qualifications at your leisure. This form of recruitment does not require a lot of time or effort on your part, and the benefit could be greater if you find a qualified candidate.
Place job postings at local community centers. There could be individuals
who are interested in working at your center but do not know how to apply for a position...