Saturday, March 6, 2010

When Hiring for Next Year, Beware Job Seekers

The last several times I've advertised for open teaching positions, I've been overwhelmed by the response. Scores of cover letters and and applications appeared in my inbox and on my desk. Each time that happened, I was quite impressed with myself for generating such a response. "Either I have created such a magnificent help wanted ad that everyone wants to teach for me," I thought, "or my school is so much the envy of the educational world that everyone wants to teach at my school."

A few months ago I faced the daunting task of replacing a dynamic young teacher who moved away when her husband's job transferred them out of state. Again, my inbox filled to capacity quickly with applications for the vacancy. As I began the time-consuming process of sorting out all the applications, I had a Eureka! moment. About half of the applicants were qualified and legitimate candidates for the position. The other half simply were people who needed a job and who figured summers off sounded like a pretty good gig.

Fast forward to recent weeks as we have begun the search for great candidates to fill a position or two for next year. Predictably, I have, at first glance, more applicants than I can possibly interview. However, on closer examination, about half of the applicants are legitimate candidates for the positions while the other half are not. Among those who have applied for specialized teaching positions are drug store clerks, personal trainers, real estate agents, restaurant hostesses, and one student who will not have completed undergraduate work before the start of the next school year. Seriously! What are they thinking?

As you start the process of hiring teachers for next year, screen the applications well. I'm the world's biggest advocate of bringing the right content experts into the classroom from the outside world but they are few and far between. Teaching applicants who neither have taught nor have established themselves as content experts have a special place at the back of my bottom drawer. Don't be afraid to send a form letter to those who have no business applying in the first place. I've never met anyone who claims to have the secret formula for hiring the right person every time but I do know that odds of a successful interview process increase when the right, or wrong, candidates are eliminated quickly.


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