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Looking To Unlock New HR Talent? Transitioning School-Based Educators Could Be The Key

Given the growing number of open HR roles, talent leaders are scrambling to find empathetic colleagues to support their organizations. Here's why it's worth seeking out school-based educators and supporting their career transition.

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Jan 17, 2024
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Last updated on Mar 17, 2022

As people leaders, we are all in the throes of realigning our talent strategies–reexamining where we look for talent and how we rethink the applicable skills and capabilities for our various roles. My colleagues at TroopHR have written about alternative ways to to think about diversifying our talent pool and countless resources have emerged to help talent leaders reimagine their funnel. 

Additionally, given the realities and effects of the pandemic, there are new sources of talent as many are considering alternate careers, namely educators. This recent WSJ article provides insight into educators as a source of talent that I encourage people leaders to consider.

Why am I so passionate about this? I am a former school-based educator and spent seven years as a teacher and leader in high schools. Through support and encouragement from folks who saw how my skills could translate in the people-space, I have spent the last six years leading learning and development functions on HR teams in high-growth, industry disrupting organizations. I’ve had the privilege since making my pivot into the corporate world to support other educators looking to leave the classroom.    

Any organization would be lucky to have the educators I know on their teams because their skills directly lend themselves to the work of effective human resource teams. Here's why:

What is effective HR? 

To understand why educators are a great fit for HR teams, it’s important to recognize the key capabilities that effective HR teams possess. The thought-leading Josh Bersin Academy has codified the capabilities effective HR teams need for the future to drive organizational impact. Through their work, the Bersin Academy saw a direct correlation in how the capabilities of Feedback & Recognition, Engagement, Collaboration & Communication, and Learning & Development have a direct impact on employee engagement, retention and productivity. These capabilities are deeply ingrained in the educators with whom I have worked, and highlight why you should be looking more closely for applicants looking for such a career transition. 

Why are educators a talent source worth considering? 

Given Bersin’s work,below are five ways  school-based educators demonstrate effective HR capabilities: 

1. Backwards planning 

  • Educators have a clear purpose for what they do (and don’t do) in order to meet specific objectives in the most effective way possible. 
  • When educators develop and execute on a strategy, it is always aligned to broader objectives and they have a plan for evaluating effectiveness

2. Metrics focused 

  • Educators hold themselves and their students to specific metrics and are clear about what they are. They analyze data from a variety of assessments (formal/informal, formative/summative) and ensure everything they do is providing measurable insights to them as the teacher and to their students. 

3. Commitment to growth and development 

  • Central to everything effective educators do is their commitment to their students. They understand the importance of building relationships, understanding their students’ goals and motivations, and caring deeply about their growth and development. They want to see their students succeed and fostering safety and trust are critical to ensuring their success. 
  • Effective educators have a growth-mindset for their students and themselves. They encourage practice, making mistakes, and learning from them to get better. They also apply those same principles for themselves, always seeking ways to be more effective in their role.  

4. Feedback and recognition

  • Effective educators understand that to grow and develop, they and their students need to be given both formal and informal opportunities for developmental and affirming feedback. 
  • Educators also know how to effectively celebrate and recognize their students’ achievements and progress to engage and keep their momentum going. 

5. Effective communication, collaboration and execution

  • Educators need to have clear systems in place to create environments where students are enabled to do their best work. 
  • To implement these systems, strategies, and execute effectively educators need strong communication skills. They understand their audience, they know how important it is to explain the why in ways that resonate with their audience, and that the same message needs to be delivered in a variety of ways and contexts for maximum impact. 

Now, replace “educators” with “HR teams” and  “students” with “employees” and you can see how these five capabilities would be an asset for the right HR team.

What do you look for in a resume? 

Convinced? Great! But you may be wondering what to look for in a school-based educator’s resume to ensure they have the capabilities you’re looking for. I recommend looking for the following: 

  1. Tenure: They’ve taught for over three years in the same school. Usually by three years they’ve hit their groove, have developed curriculum and have a track record of data that demonstrates progress.

  2. Data: Their resume highlights student progress made year over year and the impact they have had in achieving learning outcomes. They’re proud to highlight improvements and how they were able to achieve and replicate those results. They’re just as proud of highlighting what they learned and how they pivoted when they realized something wasn’t going well.

  3. Management and leadership:  They’ve led a school or department. They were accountable to the success of other teachers and were expected to give and receive feedback. They also can speak to the impacts of their leadership. Bonus if they’ve developed and facilitated professional development for teachers.

  4. Ownership: They’re experienced in owning end-to-end execution. Whether it be curriculum development from conception to evaluation or managing school-wide events, such as a theater production. 

How do I best support their transition? 

As with any new hire, you want to make sure your teammates are set up for success. With educators who are likely pivoting to the corporate world for the first time, here are some suggestions for how to support their transition into your organization:   

  1. Be an effective manager. Set clear expectations and provide feedback regularly- they’ll be appreciative of it! They will need time and cultural education to transition from a school community to your organization and its different standards. Give them access to key stakeholders and provide them with an opportunity for an early win.  
  2. Honor their previous experiences and inherent capabilities. Be open to their perspective and fresh eyes as they ramp up. 
  3. Provide effective onboarding. They will need deep organizational and industry context and time to absorb. Effective educators are hungry to learn so give them a solid level of business knowledge and multiple touchpoints in their first 90 days. 

While you may be more used to hiring talent from similar sectors, hiring school-based educators will open the door to new talent with solid skills that will display passion in your workplace and bridge the people and business impact we all strive for.

Where can I find them? 

Want help connecting to these future HR leaders? Feel free to message me directly in the TroopHR community or email Hello@troophr.com

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