Come with me on a journey. Let us travel back in time, to the days before we had our phones glued to our person most hours of most days. The days before texting and emailing and, yes, before google. When we hung out with friends and asked The Big Questions (like, “What is the world record for number of hot dogs eaten in a single sitting?”) and either knew the answer or didn’t, and were content with the not knowing. We planned vacations using travel agents and books, bought large appliances based on what the sales guy told us, and made employment decisions based on resumes and interviews and handshakes. Remember those days?
Yeah, me too. And they’re loooooong gone.
You could probably live a full and happy life not knowing the answer to that hot dog question. But what about planning that dream vacation to Italy? Or upgrading your refrigerator? Would you do either of those things without searching the internet? No. You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t be using all of the information available to you to make your decision, and that would be silly.
The same principles apply to employment decisions, whether you’re the job-lister or the job-seeker. I am going to assume that you already google prospective employees. And, if you don’t, no need to out yourself here, but please start. I’m also going to wager that some of you check social media accounts for prospective employees as well (you should know that 86% of job seekers have an account on at least one of the six major social networks, and 93% of employers in private industry check social accounts prior to hiring). But have you ever thought about what sort of digital checking up prospective employees do on you?
I promise you, it’s happening. Especially in the realm of social media. According to the Jobvite 2015 Job Seeker report, 67% of job seekers report using Facebook when looking and interviewing for jobs, 45% use Twitter, and 40% use LinkedIn. Want more evidence? The same report found that 24% of 18-29 year olds use Twitter to look up information specifically about the current culture and employees at an employer of interest, and 22% use Facebook for the same purpose. Percentages are similar for the 30-39 year old age bracket.
So, what do prospective employees see when they google your district? There’s only one way to find out. Type your district’s name into The Google and brace yourself. What do you see? Likely, the first result will be . . .
Consider this your first impression. You know the quote, “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression”? That’s exactly what you should be thinking about here. Look specifically at the areas listed below and, if it looks like they could use a little work, they’re all easy to fix. Talk to your district’s webmaster about making some quick changes to help your district to put it’s best foot forward right from the start.
- Ease of navigation – how easy/hard is it to find your department? A great way to test this is to ask someone you know (a spouse, for instance) to navigate from the district home page to your department’s main page and count the clicks it took to get there (including those that were in error). I just did it for my children’s district and it took me 7 clicks plus 2 site searches to find the Department of Special Education. Not good.
- Ease of contact – how easy/hard it is to connect with a human being? Can they find your district on social media accounts or on an app?
- Photos – Do you have your photo on your site as the face of the department? How about other photos showcasing the great work your staff does?
- Accolades and other brag bits – 73% of private industry companies highlight company culture to attract potential staff. Know why? Because, as our CEO Sharon Soliday often says, culture is everything.
And the next result on Google? If you’re lucky, it will be . . .
Your Social Media
Does your district or department have one or more social media accounts? If not, get one. Now. Remember those stats I listed above? If you’re interested in attracting top talent, you can’t afford to not have a social media presence.
- Oliver Schinkten recently wrote a post on Edutopia titled “Finding a New and Better Job in Education.” One of his top recommendations? “Search, Network, and Connect.” Facebook might be the first social network you think of, but he advises to “utilize the power of LinkedIn, which is becoming a popular place for educators to post resumes and search for job openings. There are over three million active LinkedIn users who are primary and secondary educators, and this number continues to grow.” Three. Million. There are 78, 500 speech-language pathologists. You and your district need to be there, too.
- Whether or not your district has one or more social accounts, consider asking if you can open one that is specific to you or your department. Yes! This is actually a thing that you can do, as seen here on Facebook and here on Twitter. Social media lets you communicate who you are, to share your successes, to highlight the staff culture.
Contrary to the old adage, there is such a thing as bad press. If you’re an SLP with 2 equal offers on the table from 2 different districts, you’re going to rely on google to help you out. A district with a bad website, no positive press, and no social media presence is going to lose out to the district with a good site and an active social media presence. It’s just the way it is. You can’t control all of the variables, of course, but googling yourself and putting forth an effort to control what prospective employees see when they google you will pay dividends in the form of the best and brightest staff choosing to work with you. And you know who wins when that happens? Kids.