The Art of Hiring in K-12 Companies: How to Attract New Employees Who Are a Fit

I really wanted to like this job candidate. At this point I had phone-screened about 15 candidates for the sales executive position and reviewed more than 50 resumes. And the guy I was talking with on the phone had the right skills on paper. He had three years of full-cycle sales experience and sold to higher ed. Even though we sell to K-12, having experience in education is a plus.

But after he dropped a second expletive during the screening call, I knew he wasn’t the right fit. 

It’s hard to find the right employees in a competitive job market. Over the years, I’ve used some unusual tactics to attract attention to our jobs amid the cacophony of job offerings in a state with a 3 percent unemployment rate.

We are hiring two positions in sales – an inside sales executive and an account manager. On a job site like Indeed, how do you stand out?

New Job Descriptions Help

First I thought about how we are different than other companies. That’s reflected in one of our core values: “We Behave Like It Matters.” In other words, we try to make the world a better place. How do I convey that in a job description? 

I changed the title of the job to “Sales Job With a Soul.” For account manager, I edited the job title to “Help Teachers Succeed as an Account Manager.” I felt like these descriptors better captured what it’s like to work at Listenwise.

Even these titles didn’t screen out some people who were not the right fit. A candidate who answered my question about why the person wanted to work in ed-tech with a response that focused on concerns about tight budgets in schools was definitely not a fit.

But I also spoke to many  job candidates who were attracted to us because of the title.

Consult Your Team

Finding the right fit for Listenwise also involves the whole team. Our other core value, “We Care About Listening,” means we listen to each other. So when we consider a new team member, we listen to what other team members think of the fit.

When a candidate is further along in the process they are invited in to meet the team in small group sit-downs. The team members can ask the candidate what they want, whether it’s related to their resume or to whether its related to seltzer (an inside joke).

The team has never come back with an out-and-out rejection, but they sometimes pick up on something we may not have noticed or dismissed in the previous interviews.

For instance, another sales candidate who came in to meet the team didn’t sell himself well enough to the group to convince them he actually wanted to be in sales. Not a good fit. 

Expanding your team is an exciting time because it means you are growing. But you need to remember your culture and your employees who got you to this point. And keeping them happy and in a healthy and supportive environment (that, for us, doesn’t feature a lot of profanity) is important.

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3 thoughts on “The Art of Hiring in K-12 Companies: How to Attract New Employees Who Are a Fit

  1. Hi Monica, As the head of an educator recruitment company, I totally agree with your post. The right candidates are tough to find now with all the online job sites presence compared to the old times when a headhunter would fill the position within a couple of weeks. The whole dynamics of the job market has changed in the past few years. I do use our team screening approach while hiring someone for the office. Sometimes more than the qualification and experience, we need a candidate that will get along with our existing team and the team would also like to work with him/her. Since we all think differently, it is a good approach to get perspectives from a few people. It works for our small team based in Istanbul, Turkey!

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