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Hiring child care staff might feel like an uphill battle right now.
It was hard before the pandemic, but now, we're dealing with new constraints and considerations. How do you make a good first impression on a Zoom call? What can you offer child care workers that other early education programs can't? And how do you make sure that your new hires want to stick around for the long run?
If it all seems a bit tricky, don’t worry — it’s not just you.
That’s why we’re here to revisit the process, and to learn how child care hiring works in the here and now. And to shed some more light on it all, I called up some expert voices from within the sector.
In this article, you’ll hear from:
Let’s see what they’ve got to say.
If you’re looking for an extra helping hand these days, you’re not alone.
Once you post that first job ad, you’re likely to see plenty of applications coming in. The challenge is sifting through them all to find your top picks — and then persuading those top picks to come join your team.
As Imogen Edmunds says, that’ll require you to be more proactive in your hiring than you’re used to.
“You’ve got to educate your candidate on what you’ve got to offer — almost in the same way you’d try to woo a family to register at your setting,” she says. “The employers who are succeeding these days are really thinking about who that ideal candidate is, and what they’d want to hear.”
So what might persuade that perfect hire to join your team? Here are the factors that matter most:
You might be tempted just to say yes to the first applicant, just to fill the spot.
But every expert I spoke to says it makes more sense to hire for the long-term right now.
When that ideal applicant is thinking about joining your team, one of the first things they’re looking at is how you support and protect your team.
We might be out of the woods with the pandemic, but its lessons are still relevant to the child care hiring process. On a practical level, it’s a test of how adaptable you are, and how organized you can be during tough times. But beyond that, it’s a question of how well you care for the people you work with.
As Imogen Edmunds says, it’s important to spend some time thinking about how you’ll answer those questions beforehand.
“We’ve seen some very negative impressions of employers who didn't take COVID-19 security seriously. I know of candidates who have declined job offers just because of that,” she says.
From the moment you post your “now hiring” advert, here’s what you can do to show you’re serious about looking out for your child care staff:
The past few years have brought huge changes (and challenges) to child care, but you should still look for the same traits as always. That means the same creativity, the same willingness to read the same picture book five times in an hour (and still do all the voices).
What is new, though, is the ways we can see if someone has those traits from a conversation. As Sophie Haylock points out, the pandemic can help frame people’s ability to step up and handle change and pressure.
“It’s important to talk to people about what’s changed for them during the pandemic. What have they learned, or how are they doing things differently? Has this period made them look for different things in life? Reflective questions like those can speak pretty deeply to an applicant’s character,” she says.
As you head into your interviews, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
These days, we’re seeing most candidates come from two places: Designated job-posting websites, and social media.
But which one’s best for you? Let’s take a quick look at our options.
It sounds cliché, but having a tight-knit team and a close sense of community is a big factor in how you’ll fare when the going gets tough.
And of course, that starts with hiring the right people. So it’s worth reiterating that right now, it’s worth putting the extra time and effort into your hiring process.
Of course, that attention shouldn’t end once the hiring process is wrapped up. As Vivvi’s Lauren Gill points out, it’s an important chance for child care directors and owners to reflect on what they offer their educators — and how they can make early education a lifelong field.
“So many educators are just absolutely compelled to do this work, no matter the conditions. But I think we need to think less about who we can hire that can endure and make sacrifices, and much more about how we can make early education a career,” Lauren says. “What can we do to give the same resources and opportunities for growth that we see in other sectors? I think it’s a tragedy that educators sometimes have to choose between their passion and a comfortable life. It’s our duty as program and business leaders to make sure educators don’t have to make that choice.”
Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.