In order to recruit the right candidates to your early years staff, after putting together a teaching job description, you must think about how you will advertise and shortlist for the role

Preparing an advertisement
Having spent time carefully defining the post to be advertised and drawing up an appropriate job description and person specification the next stage in the process is to attract a range of suitably qualified applicants to apply for the post.

Placing job advertisements in the press is an expensive business so it is vital that all the correct information needed to attract potential applicants is displayed as clearly and concisely as possible.
The advert should include the following information:

  • title of the position being advertised
  • a brief description of the organisation, including why it is good to work for and the opportunities the post provides
  • an indication of the responsibilities covered by the post
  • a list of the essential qualifications or experience needed
  • the nature of the position – full time/part time, temporary/permanent
  • the salary range
  • a contact name, email address, phone number and postal address for further information
  • the closing date for a reply and, if possible, the interview date.

When an advert is placed in a local or national newspaper confirm when the advert will appear, and then to set the deadline for responses accordingly. Potential applicants will need a reasonable amount of time to request an application form and information pack and complete and return their application.

Where to advertise a vacancy
In the interests of equality of opportunity all vacancies should be advertised. This could be internally, for example, on a staff notice board, or externally in a newsletter, in the local newspaper or in a national publication.

Many local authorities produce a regular newsletter, including job advertisements, which is circulated to all early years providers. In addition, local authorities advertise vacancies for teachers and support staff in schools through a regular bulletin on their websites. Some Children’s Information Services (CIS) host a recruitment section on their website or circulate information through electronic newsletters.

For some posts it may be appropriate to advertise through Jobcentre Plus, thereby giving access to a range of individuals who are actively seeking employment. Vacancies are advertised on the Jobcentre Plus website and also appear in local job centres. In addition, Jobcentre Plus runs a range of government-subsidised New Deal schemes. Employers taking on staff through these schemes receive financial assistance with initial salary costs as well as an allowance towards training costs.

Vacancies can also be advertised through specialist recruitment agencies, but check in advance what the fees for this service will be. Many agencies also use their websites to make the information widely available to a broad range of potential candidates. See the box below right for a list of specialist recruitment agencies.

Information pack for candidates
Once an advertisement has been placed, put together a comprehensive information pack to send out to enquirers. Included in it will be the application form, job description and person specification along with some background information on your organisation. Remember that the information you send out will give potential applicants their ‘first impression’ of your organisation.

Think carefully about what to include and how to present it so that it accurately reflects the image you want to convey. Well-presented, professional-looking paperwork is likely to attract a candidate with high standards and aspirations.

The use of a standard application form for all positions advertised by an organisation is the most efficient way to collect together a range of important information in a systematic fashion. It ensures that all the details including contact information, qualifications and experience are gathered together in one place. This simplifies the shortlisting process as it enables an appointments panel to scan the applications easily to confirm that all the essential criteria for the post have been fulfilled.

The layout of the application form can be designed to:

  • ascertain full contact details, including postal address, mobile phone number and email address
  • establish qualifications, experience and employment history
  • invite the candidate to state why they feel they are particularly suited to the post advertised
  • request the names of referees and to state the procedure for taking up references
  • inform applicants if the post is exempt from the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
  • require the disclosure by the applicant of any criminal convictions, cautions or reprimands made against them
  • obtain equal opportunities information for monitoring purposes.

A requirement to complete the application form by hand gives an opportunity to assess the candidate’s handwriting, grammar and spelling skills, all of which will be important considerations when working with young children and when preparing written notes and observations to share with parents.

Once completed applications for the post have been received, there will be an opportunity to review the information provided by the candidates and decide who to invite for interview. This is the stage at which unsuitable candidates can be eliminated on the basis that they do not have the qualifications, skills or experience to meet the criteria deemed ‘essential’ in the person specification for the post. Candidates who do meet these criteria can then be invited for interview to investigate more fully whether they have the personal skills and attributes you are looking for to add to your staff team. Although time-consuming, it is a courtesy to contact unsuccessful candidates and inform them that their application has not been successful on this occasion. This will help to promote a very positive image of your organisation.

Further information
Children’s Information Service (CIS)
New Deal schemes
Capita Recruitment
Hays Specialist Recruitment
Tinies Childcare