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School recruitment tactics are a disgrace

YOUR article "Smelly interviewees given an early bath" made me cringe at the sheer naivety of those who conducted the survey (TES, March 14).

Successful recruitment and retention of staff is dependent on both being a two-way communication. In the current market employers cannot afford arrogantly to assume it is they who have the final say in whether a candidate works for them or not.

I spent last spring term researching the standards of administration and advertising of vacancies in education for a book. What I discovered left me in no doubt as to why many vacancies remain unfilled.

Adverts were unattractive and vague; answering machines were switched off during the weekend; message-takers were unfriendly and uninformed.

Scruffy, out-of-date and even coffee-mug-ringed recruitment packs arrived in reused envelopes with insufficient postage and were frequently accompanied by covering letters which were badly mailmerged, unpersonalised photocopies, unsigned or simply not there!

Overall, the quality of correspondence and recruitment collateral would not naturally be associated with organisations in search of employees who are dedicated to spending their working lives paying attention to detail, encouraging others to make the best of themselves and show courtesy, consideration and respect to others.

According to the survey, heads felt that the quality of applicants for teaching posts in 2002 was lower than in 2001. However, I would urge all heads to stand back and honestly review the standards of their advertising and administration as both reveal so much about your establishment.

When you advertise a vacancy you are marketing and selling your establishment. When your team handles enquiries, shows candidates around the school and receives them in reception they have become your public relations officers. Every time you communicate with the candidate you become the ambassador for your establishment.

If you want quality candidates you need to demonstrate the high standards that you expect successful candidates to uphold. Anything less is simply a waste of time in a market where job hunters are spoilt for choice.

Sarah Palmer 26 Blaire Park Yateley Hampshire

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