Hiring? The Secret to Finding Hidden Edtech Talent

Opinion | Hiring & Recruiting

Hiring? The Secret to Finding Hidden Edtech Talent

By Sam Peterson     Jul 16, 2018

Hiring? The Secret to Finding Hidden Edtech Talent

This article is part of the guide: Finding the Right Talent in the Edtech World.

Finding the right candidate is not only important in order to get the job done but it is also essential for building a healthy organizational culture. So how do you find the perfect hire? A big part of that strategy is knowing where to look to find the kind of high-quality candidates you want to add to your roster. We decided to sit down with the EdSurge Jobs team to talk specifically about how to locate “hidden” edtech talent, whether you're hiring for a company representative or IT support for your school. Here are their suggestions on where to find your perfect candidate.

Hiding in plain sight

You may well be surprised by the talent you find lying directly within your reach already. In the interest of time, money and resources, it’s always best to start by tapping into your own network first.

  • internal referrals - Happy employees often make great references. Building a quality referral program not only incentivizes your current workforce to take a personal interest in cultivating organizational culture, it also functions as a de facto screening system to ensure that you’re working with an internally-vetted applicant pool at all times. Of course, this need not always be a formal process; hosting social events like happy hours is a convenient way to get to know your “extended family” in a low-stakes setting.
  • edtech peers - Friends and acquaintance working in education, especially for companies or institutions similar to yours, can also be a great resource. To be clear, we’re not advocating poaching here; rather, we’re recommending a collective effort to share useful information, suggest contacts or even compare recruitment strategies.
  • look across the pond - If you're an edtech company, consider your relationships with current or former educators and district leaders, too. These folks represent some of the best-suited potential candidates in your network. Who are some likely sector switchers in that group? Think of ways that you can help to guide their transition from the classroom to the edtech industry. Likewise, schools, districts and higher education institutions shouldn't consider edtech industry folks off-limits—many of them have an education background and could bring a different perspective to your team.

Living out loud

Your current network is a great place to start bu may not provide the depth or breadth you need to ensure a diversified candidate pool. To create one effectively, you need to let job seekers out in the world know that your company exists... AND that you’re hiring.

  • your mission - Job seekers are increasingly concerned with working for a mission-driven organization. They want to know that you have a mission they can fully support and a culture they want to be part of. It’s your job to make that clear for them.
  • your message - Building a strong brand with a consistent message is absolutely essential for effective recruitment. Create clear, mission-aligned, branded messaging that makes it easy for job seekers to know your name and identify with what you're offering.
  • your method - Now, put your organization on the radar of all potential job seekers by distributing that message far and wide. Editorial coverage, reviews from educators and current employees, blog posts, sponsored articles and events, listservs like Edupreneur Jobs, in addition to other marketing efforts, such as an active social media presence, should all be employed to this effect. EdSurge has lots of great options to help you get the word out.

Seeing and being seen

And while you’re broadcasting your message across the virtual landscape, don’t forget that it’s equally important to own your space in the real world.

  • jobs fairs & conferences - Your attendance should be treated as an opportunity for both branding and recruitment as well as a chance to expand your professional network. Be sure to interact with job seekers and other organizations like your own. This helps you reach current applicants and build up a reserve of future resources. Check out the EdSurge Edtech Events Calendars for K-12 and Higher Ed conferences. And be on the lookout for the next EdSurge jobs fairs—sign up for our jobs-focused newsletter HiredUp to be the first to hear about our upcoming dates.
  • meetups & industry events - Stay in touch with your local edtech community. Join edtech meetup groups in your area, where both educators and edtech industry folks congregate, and even attend industry events hosted by accelerators or edtech coworking spaces.
  • colleges & universities - You won’t find a greater collection of well-educated, ambitious and optimistic talent in a single location than a post-secondary campus. Build relationships with local institutions to boost your recruitment efforts—not just Education and Teaching programs but their edtech clubs too. For edtech companies, establishing an internship program is a great way to begin the process.

Reaching new candidates

If you still haven't found the perfect candidate it is time to reach a larger audience. Finding the right jobs board to post your message is essential. You should consider the types of hires you want to make and the job description that will clearly explain why this person would be a great fit. Additionally, professional databases are overflowing with useful information regarding your next potential hire, but to take full advantage of this data, you need to know exactly what you’re looking for. To get the best results possible, be sure to begin your search with clearly defined roles and job descriptions in place. Don’t use someone else’s descriptions or signaling mechanisms if they don’t match your particular criteria. The keywords and filters you put in place to refine your searches must be correlated with success in the specific role(s) you’re looking to fill.

Industry-specific jobs boards:

Databases you might consider scouring for talent:

Staying in the loop

Keeping current on industry news (or gossip) can also be incredibly helpful. Not only is this essential for meeting the ever-changing needs of those you serve, whether that's students or educators, it also allows you to anticipate shifts in trends that will inform your recruitment strategy. Furthermore, this is one of the few ways to learn in advance about company transitions—mergers, acquisitions, pivots, shutdowns—which typically result in a brief flood of experienced talent to the job-seeker market.

Stay in the loop here:

Going rogue

The truth is, no single approach from the list above is likely to yield a great outcome for you if applied in isolation. A combined effort that includes many of the previously mentioned resources is the best way to uncover hidden edtech talent. Then again, depending on the role you are hiring for, your best employees may not come from a background in edtech or education at all. Sometimes, the talent remains hidden because you’re looking in the wrong places. In that case, you may want to consider distilling these ideas into a sort of radical “plan b” that moves in a different direction from all the advice already offered. Or consider getting in touch with the EdSurge Jobs team, we’d be happy to brainstorm ideas with you!

Learn more about EdSurge operations, ethics and policies here. Learn more about EdSurge supporters here.

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