3 Tips for Hiring in Higher Education
By: Brian Jensen
For those of you working in higher education, hiring new staff may not be the first thing on your mind right now as the semester is in full swing. In fact, you might not even consider the hiring process to be an important aspect of what you do- it’s just one of the processes we all have to endure, right? But hiring is a critical aspect of your work that fulfills your institution’s human capital strategy and builds a strong healthy culture. Working in Christian higher education is more than just a job - it’s a calling. This requires thorough and healthy hiring practices.
The typical hiring “cycle” has changed over the past few years, and covid has certainly thrown a wrench into the entire labor market landscape in all industries. So as you consider hiring, now and into the spring, keep these things in mind:
1. Start early
As you’ve been hearing recently, and maybe even experiencing in your own institution, The Great Resignation is underway. If you want plenty of options as you look for candidates, then now is the time to get started. Keep in mind that the reason so many people are leaving their jobs is to look for better opportunities. It’s important that you not only imbue meaning into the job itself and how it fits within your institution as a whole, but that you also provide a healthy compensation package that attracts candidates.
As a leader, it is important to always be prepared for a role to open up. You need to have a succession plan in place for any role on your team because you never know when someone will choose to step away, and you don’t want to be left frantic.
Keep in mind that while it is critical to do the hiring process well and thoroughly, that doesn’t mean it should take forever. If a candidate is looking for a new job now and someone else gives them an offer long before you ever get back to them, it doesn’t matter how right you thought the candidate was for the job. Get started early to allow yourself the time and flexibility to do a search both thoroughly and succinctly.
2. Recruit to your "why"
In the hiring process, it is essential that you tell the story of your institution. For one, walking through your culture and history will make you stand out to potential employees more than any good interview style. Sharing your “why” will also help recruit those who align with your mission. As people quit their jobs in droves, it’s become clear that they don’t want to do meaningless work just to make a paycheck. Right now, people want to be involved in purpose-driven work. If you can clearly and passionately articulate what the purpose of your institution is, how you got where you are today, and why you continue to do what you do, you are already ahead in the recruiting process.
3. Don't overlook potential
Now, in a season of turnover, is the perfect time to begin hiring and developing leaders rather than simply seeking out someone who can already do everything. Ask yourself what kind of internal pipeline you have for leadership development, and consider where staff could end up rather than just where you need them right now. Will you consider taking risks and hiring people who you see potential in? These hires can often end up as your long-tenured leaders who make up the heart of an institution.
And in the midst of all of this, remember that hiring and onboarding a new team member is a human experience. It is an opportunity to participate in God’s plan for your institution as well as a particular person’s life journey; it is an opportunity to love our neighbor as ourselves. So get started early, recruit to your “why,” and don’t overlook potential as you work to further the Kingdom of God through your institution.