Nationwide, companies are facing staffing shortages and asking questions on how to resolve them—school districts are no exception. On a recent episode of Peachjar Extra Credit, Matthew met up with Christine Paik, Chief Communications Officer at Poway USD to talk about hiring strategies their school district uses and the positive results they’ve seen. From campaign planning to execution to follow up, they discuss creative, effective, and even award-winning ways Poway USD connected with the community to attract talent. We all know that it takes a village and Poway USD has done an amazing job of highlighting theirs for the benefit of their students.
Christine and Matthew discuss the importance of collaborating across departments, identifying audiences, and keeping student needs at the center of the messages to ensure the impact of campaigns. Christine shares that many part-time, school-based positions were targeted to stay-at-home families or grandparents who are involved in the drop-off and pick-up times. These positions aren’t best reached in the traditional venues of recruitment fairs. Instead, the district created signage that families would see while dropping off or picking up students in addition to reaching out to parents directly via email and Peachjar.
One key component to the campaign’s success? Knowing and engaging with the community. In Poway USD’s community, many residents are retirees who get news from the local paper and news outlet. Having a great relationship with those media personnel meant that Poway USD was able to partner with the media to send out their message for help. When working with the media, Christine stressed the importance of taking “a potential negative messaging of ‘oh, school district has long lunch lines’ and you turn it into a recruiting tool: ‘The reason we have long lunch lines is because we’re short-staffed. Can anyone out there help us a few hours a day and man the kitchen?’” Christine explained that she used this opportunity to take the community's concerns and address them to highlight the struggles the school was having and the reasons needed to help. In doing this, they kept the messaging consistently focused on the need to provide for students.
By reaching their community where the community actively is, Poway USD tripled their applicant pool in a matter of weeks. They also got to hear and share amazing stories along the way of individuals joining their team, like a retired pilot who became a bus driver and an existing bus driver who was using her personal social media to show “a day in the life” videos and encouraging others to join their driver team.