If you're a fan of The Walking Dead, this blog on connecting career seeking lessons to the show will get you as excited as Rick's reunion with his baby Judith.  

I know...how can a show about the zombie apocalypse possibly have ANY lessons for career seekers?  Well, I've got three nuggets for you:  

"But I need your help. 'Cause I can't do it by myself. And even if I catch up to Bob, we can't do it alone."  Maggie Greene knew that even in times of survival, she couldn't find Glenn without help.  Finding your next career move is the same thing - you can't do it alone, so NETWORK!  Who are the top three to five people you can count on in your network?  Talk to them immediately to help you reflect on your strengths, growth areas, and how other people perceive you.  Don't wait for a zombie to come up behind you to let you know.  :)

"Get one thing straight. You're staying? This isn't a democracy anymore."  Rick Grimes knew that in times of crisis, waiting to get consensus when zombies are attacking you at all hours isn't the way to keep the group alive.  Leadership is contextual.  As a leader, what kind of work culture are you looking for?  Then based on your strengths and growth areas, are you the kind of leader to match what that culture needs to move forward?

"Sanctuary for all. Community for all. Those who arrive, survive."  This was the broadcast from Terminus, the supposed sanctuary for The Walking Dead group.  They were welcomed with open arms, but once inside, they soon learned that the Terminus group didn't have their best interests at heart.  Do your research.  When researching organizations, ask around to people who currently work there, and have worked there recently.  It's important to not just hear the good...but the not so good.  Come up with a list of questions to ask each person.  

I'd love to hear if you've gathered leadership lessons from any other shows!  As you watch your next show on DVR, think about what leadership do's and don'ts you're viewing!

AuthorRon Rapatalo

If you're a talent professional in the education sector, things are likely a bit slower (read: more manageable) for you right now as all the people you hired for this school year settle into their new roles. Still, I always say that education talent recruitment is like working in retail - to be successful you always have to be at least a season ahead. So now with the season officially turned to fall, a good recruitment strategy for your next hiring season needs to start now. But where does one begin?

Evaluate the previous season
Most schools are data-driven environments these days, and the HR/talent team is no exception. Begin your talent strategy planning by looking at all the important data from the previous season. From where did most of your new hires come? Which events or marketing initiatives were most successful? How successful are your newest hires in their roles? What were the candidate pass-through rates for each phase of the selection process?

Begin with the end in mind
Particularly for anyone working in a growing charter school or network, you'll need to know what new positions are anticipated for the coming year. Is your organization adding a new grade? Are new positions being added as part of the transition to Common Core? Connect with whomever is charged with the academic program to find out what they have in mind. (But keep in mind that it could change!)

The talent shuffle
Take a current faculty and staff list and sit down with your school's leaders to determine who they anticipate will return to their same position next year. Is anyone being promoted to a new role? Who is considering a cross-country move, planning to be a stay-at-home mom, or planning for grad school? Use the fall season to start identifying these potential transitions to help you assess what openings you'll need to fill. You'll start to identify some definite openings and some possible ones.

Survey and Interview staff
Want to know what people like about working at your organization, what made them choose your school over another offer, or what candidates most liked and disliked about the selection process? Just ask your staff. This information will be invaluable in putting together a talent recruitment marketing plan, figuring out where to recruit, and tweaking your selection process. Don't forget to use the opportunity to ask them what educator rockstars they know who might be interested in future openings!

Review your selection process
When I was Chief Talent Officer at DC Prep, I called this "reflection and refinement" in honor of one of our organizational values. Ultimately, you want to be sure the steps you take to select staff in different roles are efficient while also being aligned with your values and expectations of staff. You can get even more bang for your buck if it is well aligned with your performance management system and observation/feedback cycle. Further, it is important to get clear about what you're looking for in staff before you start recruiting them to ensure both processes are aligned.

Review your marketing materials
Have you updated your website, social media sites, and print materials since the last hiring season? Make sure these properly reflect what's happening in your schools and promote your school in the best light. Think about how the sites reflect what you value most in staff. For instance, if you want data-driven and results-oriented staff, include student achievement data and examples of the kinds of results your teachers and leaders have garnered for students. As much as possible, try to show and not just tell the things that make your school great by including videos, pictures, and graphic representations.

Candidate cultivation
Plan ahead, get clear about your hiring needs, and make sure your materials are a good reflection of your organization, but don't wait another minute to cultivate prospective candidates already in your database. Remember that awesome candidate from last season who decided not to move at the last minute? Or that leader you didn't have the right role for last year but think you might next year? Send them an email or give them a call just to check in, include them on your organization's e-newsletter, or invite them to an event at your school. They'll love that you remember them and who knows how circumstances might change for you and them in the next cycle.

Our team just loves coaching and consulting with talent professionals to support these proactive components of talent strategy. Let us know how we can help you get ahead of the game. Talent strategy is all about planning and it takes the talent professionals at your school or organization to lead the way in securing the best talent pool. Don't delay!

The other day, a friend of mine asked me for some advice on how to hire a swim coach for a summer recreational league.  Although I am not an expert swimming coach, as a seasoned educational recruiter this inquiry led me to consider the similarities and differences between hiring for this position and one of the school leader roles I so often work on.  In the end, I decided that while the two roles clearly require a different set of technical skills, they both require strikingly similar leadership abilities.  And what I have found after years of recruiting is that technical proficiency can be much more easily quantified and verified than the more elusive and subjective areas of leadership style and skills. Thus the reason so many clients and partners seek support from a third party talent organization such as ours.

Great candidates possess leader attributes that are universally sought. When I am seeking for the “best fit” candidate for a leadership role, the primary attributes I seek are:

-        Work ethic

-        Integrity

-        Team orientation

-        Positive attitude

Of course, how you evaluate, rate and qualify these attributes is the $64,000 question.  Interviewing multiple candidates can add context in helping managers sort through different individuals.  Also, working with a recruiter who deeply understands the industry and where to find candidates with specific skill sets can add a lot of value to organizations’ attempts to build a viable candidate pool.  Talent managers should always cast a wide net by emailing friends and family who can connect them with others, and internal networks are also a terrific resource to tap as you are narrowing in on a candidate during the reference checking process.

Every position boasts a unique description and set of qualifications, but in my humble opinion a few basic questions should always be asked during an initial interview. Here are some of mine:

1.     Tell me a time when you worked on a project and needed to put more effort into it than you planned?

2.     Give me an example of when you worked with a team, and what was your role?  What was the outcome?

3.     How does your attitude impact others at work?

Remember, Redwood Circle is a great resource to use when looking for education leaders.  Our recruiters are well connected in the industry and are here to help!

AuthorViviana Pyle

I've been thinking about the right title for this blog about networking.  I didn't want to use the words art or science because those are terms I've seen overused about networking.  I wanted to find a term that described networking as a philosophy, a way of being.  Then I thought about a posthumous collections of Bruce Lee's martial arts philosophy, the Tao of Jeet Kune Do. That was it - TAO!  The Tao of Networking is more of a principle, a path.    

My own Tao of Networking over the last 10 years (many of which have been spent on LinkedIn) are an accumulation of values and lessons learned from school leadership recruitment, making connections amongst my own networks, and meeting lots of people from all walks of life.

#1:  Networking is giving.  I read an Adam Grant article recently about this.  Yes when we reach out to people, there's something we usually want in return (advice, connections, a job!).  But I've learned to always offer what can I give in return.  I end every networking conversation by asking if there's anything I can do for the person.  I usually have something in mind based on the conversation, like making a connection for them, sharing a resource, or sharing a status update for the person's work.    

#2: Networking is learning.  I've had hundreds of networking conversations over the past two years.  I usually write a series of questions I ask each person, based on what it is I want to learn.  I've found that starting with a learning orientation, which makes me actively listen and more curious about the person, leads to new lessons!  For example, I had a great conversation with a trusted mentor.  Not only did she refer a number of great books on coaching, but gave me two easy pieces of advice as I coach clients:  Listen more and empower them to create their own path (and not YOUR path!).

#3: Networking is consistency.  It's all about the follow-up.  If you say you'll do something for someone, do it.  I take my networking notes and create a calendar appointment to follow up on an item.  Additionally, I'll email out any next steps from a conversation to hold myself accountable.  Most importantly, I reach out to three people every week to just say hi and ask what I can do for that person.  

There are plenty of great articles about the process for networking, from a good email ask to how to frame a successful networking conversation.  HOWEVER, without these values, networking then just become another item on our to-do list.  Why not network because it aligns with who we are!

AuthorRon Rapatalo