Sense of Belonging, Wellbeing

Five tips for recruiting the best early years educators

Pip Phillips 3 November 2021

Image of educators at New Shoots Children's Centre, Bayfair.

Acquiring top talent can be a costly and timely process for any early years centre, especially with the current global education talent shortage. When you’re on the hunt for new team members, it’s not just about finding someone with the relevant qualifications, you also need them to be the right fit for your centre and philosophy - and that’s not always easy to find. 

But with a crystal clear idea of who you’re after, what you’re offering, the right tools, and a transparent process, you should be able to enjoy a more streamlined, stress-free, recruitment journey - with a successful outcome.

1. Have a clear idea of who you’re looking for

There are often multiple people involved in the recruitment or decision-making process for an early childhood centre. From the start, make sure everyone agrees on the qualifications and attributes required for the vacant role. Discuss and confirm what the ideal candidate needs in terms of background, experience, qualifications, and professional affiliations.

One major factor, that’s not a black and white tick box item, is ensuring the new staff member is the right “fit” for the centre and the team. Remember, when meeting potential candidates, you are not interviewing for your next friend. Keep an open mind about who will work well and complement the rest of your team. By sitting down and setting clear expectations on what “the right fit” looks like, your recruitment process will be much more straightforward. At the end of the process, it can help to refer back to what you set out to achieve at the start.

2. Understand your offering 

Not all early years organisations can compete with higher salaries, so understanding what you have to offer employees is essential. 

  • Establish your centre as a sought-after place to work to draw the best teachers looking for the right move, not a bigger paycheck. 
  • Consistently communicating your brand values and unique offering with staff will help spread the word throughout the early years’ community. 
  • In your advertising, include why your team loves where they work. This will give potential employees a good understanding of the centre’s culture.
  • What else can you offer besides a salary? Ratios, paid professional development, access to discounted fees for staff, full pay through a pandemic?! Create a list so you can give a well-informed speech when talking to job candidates.
3. Maximise online tools 

Alongside the traditional methods of advertising, make sure your own website is up to date with current vacancies, and utilise social media. Ensure your centre Facebook and Instagram pages are packed with authentic, consistent content so when potential candidates are looking at their options they gain insight into your centre. LinkedIn is a fantastic professional platform and tool for recruitment. It’s a great way to share information and link up with other educators so that when opportunities become available, you and the rest of your team can share links to your website’s careers page.

4. Do it right

A thorough and transparent process will help reduce the risk of disputes or legal issues due to being swayed by bias or discrimination. If you have a straightforward and documented recruitment process that everyone follows, then all interviews are fair and gather the same information. 

Set structured interview questions using a format that can be modified depending on the role you are recruiting. Within early childhood education, there are very strict safety checks that need to be completed before anyone is hired. One of the upsides to a thorough process is that diversity is inevitable, and the right person will be hired. Diversity is essential to our children’s care and education.

5. Open your centre

Allowing teachers to come and spend time on the floor creates an instant emotional bond. Developing that bond is fundamental for attracting the right talent, especially during the current major staff shortage. That bond can start from the very first phone call and keeps potential staff engaged in your process. It doesn’t need to cost extra, there’s no need to “wine and dine”, just treat each person as you would want to be treated and remain an open book.

Last but not least, don’t beat yourself up if a new hire doesn’t work out. Sometimes what you see (and interview, and reference check, etc.) is not always what you get. It’s important to remain calm and confident throughout the process to minimise the impact on your team and keep spirits high. The right person will be just around the corner.

Enspirement holds an opportunity for early years settings to share the great things that are happening in your environments. Be seen as an industry leader, and a place that all educators will thrive. Building brand awareness amongst a global community, through your teams, to help attract and maintain talent.