Recruitment 2020: tech has changed how we find staff

Technology has changed so much about our lives but how has it affected teacher recruitment? We have a look at what has changed in the past two decades

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Can you remember what it was like to look for teaching jobs in 2000?

Google wasn’t a verb – you would have to write or telephone to ask for application forms, and job hunting only happened on Friday when the Tes magazine came out. 

Only the most tech-savvy of schools had their own website, and if they did, it was made on CafePress, and definitely wouldn’t contain anything useful, like staffing vacancies. 

Back then, job hunting required a totally different skill set and schools used very different strategies to recruit.

But really, what has made the biggest difference?

As a new decade begins, it feels fitting to reflect on how recruitment has been transformed.

When print was king

When we started the year 2000, you didn’t go to Tes.com for your jobs, it was all about flicking through advertisements and circling the ones that appealed.

Positions had started to go online, but the vast majority of teachers were still looking in the paper supplement for their job inspiration.

Vivienne Porritt, head of WomenEd, remembers the time when it was harder for teachers to job hunt in private.

“On a Friday, you would try to surreptitiously get hold of the Tes, because you wouldn’t necessarily want people in school to know you were looking for a job,” she recalls.

Not only did this take the privacy away but you were also without the filtering capabilities that we have now.

“You would be thumbing through an enormous volume of pages because you might find a job in a different part of it,” says Porritt.

How’s your handwriting?

Having to call, or even write, to the school to request an application form, meant another assessment for your capability of the job – even if it was a less official one.

“Very often, the receptionists would have a view on the candidates based on the way they asked for application forms, and would compile their own lists,” says Porritt.

“That list would often match exactly with what was decided by the headteacher. They’d look out for those people skills early on.”

The mobile revolution

Back in 2000, the job application was a much more tactile affair, with faxes still a common part of the process. Then things moved online and job hunting became something you do at your computer. 

However, you could say the game really changed when phones became internet enabled (and the screens grew to a size visible to the human eye). Suddenly, job hunting was something you could do anytime, anywhere.

Ask Jeeves, AltaVista, Lycos...as search engines became smarter, job hunting became easier. Not only could you search for job vacancies but you could also search for information about the school. 

Once you could Google the school, you had access to so much information, and not just the official documents, such as their Ofsted reports, but also the darker side of the internet...Facebook parent groups.

Can you Google them?

In 2000, there was no Facebook (2004), no Twitter (2006), no Instagram (2010). We didn’t even have some of the social media platforms that are now long gone – no Bebo (2005) and no Myspace (2003). 

Now, teachers have an online presence and potential employers can check out their candidates’ social media profiles to get a sense of what they’re like before calling for an interview. 

However, since 2017, EU data laws mean that employers can do this only if they have the candidate’s consent and if there is a business reason for doing so.

A school can therefore check out a candidate’s behaviour online with regards to, say, bullying or harassment to ensure their ethos matches the values of the school.

Grainne Hallahan is Tes senior content writer

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Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan is senior content writer at Tes

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