Hiring isn’t getting any easier for HigherEd teams this year.
According to a recent poll by the Chronicle of Higher Education, 62% of college leaders said that hiring in the first three months of 2023 has been more challenging than in 2022.
The Chronicle noted, “In the survey’s open-ended responses, hiring managers reported taking months to fill key positions, and while some respondents said turnover isn’t as prevalent as it once was, their ability to land top talent is being dictated by candidates’ desire for hybrid and flexible work arrangements.”
Other colleges are finding challenges with retention for disconnected faculty and staff.
In today’s competitive job market, your institution needs to create a truly compelling case for a candidate to choose you. Below are a few strategies for creating an employee value proposition, showcasing your institution’s unique value, and creating a distinct identity in the talent market.
Stand out from corporate competition
When filling roles, colleges and universities aren’t just competing with each other, but with the corporate world. This is especially true for in-demand roles like IT– 38% of college leaders surveyed said that hiring for information technology roles was a “serious problem” in 2023.
The draw of HigherEd might not be what it once was for many job-seekers, but it’s still important to highlight what makes working at a college or university different than working at any other business. In your position descriptions, on your website, and in your job portal, make sure to highlight your institutional culture – things like the close-knit community, the beauty of your campus, the chance to interact with students, faculty, and staff from many different backgrounds, and the mission or value statements of your institution.
These opportunities can help your role stand out from similar roles in other types of businesses. While salary, benefits, and flexibility are important to job seekers, many also want to feel like they’re making a difference or have more input into their work– and that’s where the draw of HigherEd comes in.
Be transparent about remote/hybrid opportunities (and highlight the benefits of being on campus when flexibility isn’t an option)
Can your institution offer work-from-home benefits or flexible hours? Great! That’s a huge draw for job-seekers today, so make it clear on your website and in your position descriptions that your team has these benefits.
If your institution cannot offer work-from-home benefits or flexible hours, make that clear too. A candidate who is not open to an in-person role won’t be a good fit for your team, and if that requirement isn’t clear in the position description or the application, you risk getting candidates who aren’t going to join your institution, taking up unnecessary extra time for your recruiting team to review.
In addition, if you know you can’t hire a candidate to work from home, you should highlight the benefits of working in-person at your institution. Show off photos of your campus or staff and faculty events. Highlight stories from current employees about their experiences working on campus, or what they love about interacting with students. Create a list of top recommendations for living near your college or university, like cultural attractions, the best restaurants, or nearby hiking trails.
Develop your employee value proposition
Your employee value proposition (EVP) is a unique differentiator that showcases your institution as an employer. This should be different from how your admissions team showcases your institution to students, or how your website showcases your institution to the public—those value propositions are unique to those situations.
Your EVP should focus specifically on what an employee is looking for and needs from their next role—and how your institution can provide it. Include not just your location, culture, and mission, but also specifics about compensation and holistic benefits (include vacation, retirement, and things like childcare). Your EVP should also encompass career growth and professional development opportunities, as well as the work environment—how does your institution handle goal-setting, work-life balance, work autonomy, or recognition for successes?
All of this information should be communicated throughout your employment site to give candidates and job-seekers a true peek into what it means to work at your institution.
The next time you look at your employment site or job descriptions, do an audit of what differentiators you see. Is there anything here that’s different from a generic job description on a corporate page? How does this role stand out from a similar role at another institution?
With an EVP, your team has the opportunity to highlight the unique culture and work environment of your institution, showing off what it really means to work at your institution. Don’t be afraid to show off your community and what sets you apart from the crowd.