The Job Description as Recruitment Tool

Day schools have some incredible assets that can recruit potential candidates. Our communities are strong and often feel like a family that people want to be a part of. Teachers have more flexibility to be creative in their classrooms without state testing or district mandates. People who go into education are passionate and often want to be a part of a mission-driven organization, and we can provide that professional home.

For sure, we also face an array of challenges, including the dearth of people entering the profession nationwide. There are too few qualified educators, too many open positions and stiff competition from both public and other independent schools. At Jewish day schools, we often pay lower salaries, have fewer employment benefits and generally have a smaller pool of candidates qualified to fill our positions.

So how can we attract the talent we need for our classrooms? We have a powerful tool at our disposal: stand-out job descriptions. As a recruiter, I put a lot of thought into writing job descriptions. I know that we only have one chance to make a good first impression. A job description that is clear, compelling and inspiring gets more applicants.

Here are my goals in writing a job description.

  • Candidates can see themselves in the role. I use language like “you will get to” and “what we’re looking for in you.” When candidates can picture themselves doing the work, they are more likely to apply. 
  • Convey the unique benefits of each individual school. Does your school have a strong training and onboarding program? A particularly warm and collaborative team? Do you emphasize creative and innovative teaching practices? Are there leadership opportunities for classroom teachers? Do you have a strong culture of ongoing professional learning? Whatever makes your school unique may draw in the right candidates.
  • Candidates have a clear and organized understanding of the work they will be doing. Often job descriptions are written as a laundry list of responsibilities, skills and experiences we want in candidates. They can be confusing, redundant and feel overwhelming to a potential applicant. Categorizing the job responsibilities helps to paint an accurate picture of what the candidate will be doing in a way they can more easily understand and remember, and can see themselves doing.

When writing job descriptions for your school’s open positions, ask yourself the following questions.

What makes my school a great place to work? What do I wish everyone knew about this school? 

What is exciting about this position? What makes it different? What would I tell someone I wanted to recruit to take the job? What would inspire a new teacher to join our team, or a veteran teacher to switch roles? 

What does my school value in our teachers? What qualities make a great teacher in our school? 

What will this person be doing on a larger scale? Will they be instilling a love of Judaism in young learners, developing reading skills or launching teenagers into the next phase of life? What would make a teacher say “Yes! That’s why I want to teach!” and motivate them to apply for this role? 

Who can you see doing this job? For this you might need to think outside the box. Is it a retired public school teacher who still wants to be in the classroom? A graduate student looking for part-time work teaching a section of English or science? Someone who is changing careers and has the skills and passion, but not the state teaching license? A recent college graduate who isn’t sure about their career path but loves working with people? 

Teaching is a great way to hone your communication, collaboration, and creative and strategic thinking skills, and can be a great place for a young professional to get their start. We all want veteran educators with a few years of experience in our classrooms. But at a time when competition for high-quality teachers is especially tough, thinking outside the box for how to find the unusual candidate may serve us well.

Then include your answers to those questions in your job description. Besides the usual lesson planning, student feedback and family communication, educators want to be inspired to work at your school and see the potential impact they will have on students. They need to be reminded of why they went into this work and how their creativity, passion and love of kids will make a difference in your school. Beyond the salary and employment benefits, candidates want a job in a school where they love to be every day. 

Finally, I recommend the following outline for all job descriptions, including an example pulled from a job description I recently created.

  1. Brief school description and the position you are hiring for. 

Example: MetroWest Jewish Day School (MWJDS) is a vibrant and innovative PK-8 pluralistic Jewish day school that nurtures students and challenges them to reach their potential on their journeys of learning and discovery. We are seeking a passionate, creative and experienced Jewish educator to be our next Director of Jewish Experience.

  1. “What you will do,” organized by category. 

Example: You will serve as our lead Jewish educator, promoting Jewish life and learning throughout the school community and serving as a role model for living a Jewish life. In addition, you will:

  • Promote a positive Jewish experience.
  • Be the instructional leader.
  • Be an ambassador for the school.
  • Serve as a Judaics classroom teacher.
  • Serve the school as a ritual leader.

Each one of these headings is followed by a two- to four-sentence description. 

  1. “Who you are,” organized in decreasing order of importance. These are the must-have and nice-to-have criteria. 
  2. Details. Include hours (especially if part-time or not traditional school hours), location, salary range and employment benefits. Yes, include the salary range with all job descriptions. That has become the industry standard and avoids time wasted with candidates who have specific salary requirements. 
  3. How to apply and who to contact with questions. We want to make this as straightforward and easy for candidates as we can. Long applications with several essay prompts = incomplete applications.

Finding qualified teachers to fill open positions is especially hard in today’s climate. Job descriptions can paint the picture of a school community where teachers feel connected, have opportunities to be creative and to grow professionally, and are reminded of their bigger “why” they want to be a teacher in the first place. Putting in the time to create job descriptions that are a tool for recruitment can help you stand out and get the best candidates in the door.

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HaYidion Jewish Educator Pipeline cover image
Jewish Educator Pipeline
Spring 2024
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