Masterclass Recap: Creative Hiring Strategies

Kathe Petchel, Founder of  Bright Beginnings Preschool

Kathe Petchel, Founder of Bright Beginnings Preschool

HINGE was thrilled to host veteran childcare business owner and staffing expert Kathe Petchel as our guest speaker for the Creative Hiring Strategies Masterclass on Wednesday, April 18.

Kathe shared a load of great information and a ton of useful takeaways. Our biggest takeway? Just like your childcare center is never “fully enrolled,” you’re also never fully hired. Always overhire and grow your bench!

But where do you go to find quality staff?

Ask your happy customers and former customers as well as happy staff and former staff for referrals. Tell current staff you want candidates as good as they are and gift them with a referral fee if they come through for you. Also, a simple, “Are you interested, or do you know anyone who might be?” could attract a former staff member back onto your team or encourage them to recruit someone for you. It’s also a good idea to assign what Kathe calls ‘parent ambassadors’ for your childcare business. They are essentially your brand advocates and can promote your center within mommy play groups, mom Facebook groups and baby showers.

And once you’ve used up your word of mouth, take your efforts online with Facebook ads and job postings on recruiting sites like Indeed, Newton and Workable. Kathe’s online ad tip: Change up the language of your headline as well as the adjectives within the post to make it look like an entirely new job posting. Also, use fun opening language to intrigue potential candidates like, “Enjoy digging in the mud?” or “Like playing with paint?”

Face-to-face recruitment can also work for you. Network at career fairs in your area or even host your own! Create a Facebook event, have plenty of staff on site to chat with attendees and administration available to conduct interviews, and have your hiring packets and materials ready. Also, it’s always a good idea to give out some promotional materials like a t-shirt or coffee mug to leave a positive, lasting impression especially with those you don’t end up hiring.

Another, lesser-known trick to recruiting new staff is to piggyback onto the front end of a state or local childcare conference by offering a career counseling class like “How to Interview and Get Hired at Your Dream Childcare Center.” Simply rent a meeting room at the conference location the morning of or day before the event begins; market the class online and with flyers or a poster board at the location; and share all of your best hiring content during the class. It’s a great way to assess the candidate pool and is relatively low cost.

Once you’ve attracted some quality candidates, how do you compete for staff?

Whether your competition is within the childcare industry or outside of the industry, your aim should be to create a positive company culture that attracts the right people.

During interviews, be clear about your core values and what your childcare center provides. And make sure candidates know the benefits of working in childcare versus other industries like nannying, retail or food and beverage: Childcare has better hours, better pay and is a lot more fun!

It’s always a great idea to provide extras to your staff as well. Reduced-price child care, free coffee and snacks, paid holidays and vacations, and staff parties are a great way to attract quality people to work in your business.

Besides freebies, highlighting your current staff and making them feel important will help strengthen the culture within your center.  Have a career ladder and allow for growth with every position. Take staff to conferences and other childcare industry events to let them know you’re invested in them. Spotlight different staff and teachers during center tours to make them feel special and let them know you recognize their hard work.

Another great tip from Kathe: Find out each of your staff’s ‘5 languages of appreciation.’ People enjoy being appreciated in different ways whether it’s through a kind word, a handwritten note or simple, quality time. Speak to your staff and find out what gestures mean the most to them and activate your appreciation at the appropriate time.

For more tips and tricks, watch the recorded, one-hour Creative Hiring Strategies Masterclass here.

And, back by popular demand, Kathe Petchel will join HINGE Founder Kathy Ligon for our May Masterclass as we discuss The Hiring Process. Register here.

Meredith Martin