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Deerfield Public Schools Wins Scarce Talent by Building Employer Brand

Deerfield Public Schools Wins Scarce Talent by Building Employer Brand

In 2019 the Economic Policy Group published a report about the state of the teacher labor market. It read, “The teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought.”

For professionals that work in Human Resources for public school districts, the shortage is daunting. But last year, Dale R. Fisher, Ed.D., pHCLE, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, decided to take a proactive approach to the problem.

He focused on developing and promoting his district’s employer brand, Deerfield Public Schools District 109, to drive new teacher applicants.

The Challenge – Recruit for Key Positions during Teacher Shortages

Last year, school districts in Illinois reported more than 2,000 unfilled positions, with 43 percent of those in Chicago Public Schools alone. Dale had quite a few unique positions that he needed to fill. With so few available teachers, he knew applicants weren’t simply going to find the postings and apply.

Rather, he decided to focus on filling those positions by highlighting the district’s strong reputation. He turned to Great Place to Work® for support.

The Solution – Build a Powerfully Magnetic Employer Brand with Certification

Deerfield Public Schools District 109 earned Great Place to Work Certification the first year it applied, with 94% of employees agreeing that it’s a great place to work. Even more impressive is that the district was also recognized as #20 on the 2019 Best Workplaces in Chicago™ list.

Dale describes the experience, saying, “I didn’t know what to expect going into the process, but we are so happy with the results. The distinctions validated our hunch that our people want to be working here and have high standards for their work and their colleagues. It’s so powerful that we can now define our culture through these honors.”

Once the initial excitement died down, Dale got to work publicizing the district’s achievement using the Great Place to Work Certification badge. He attached lapel pins to new employee ID holders for all staff, added the digital badge to email signatures, put window clings on the windows and put signs on the entrances to all schools. He also hung a 4-foot-tall banner at the entrance of the district office so it’s the first thing people see when they arrive.

Dales says, “The Great Place to Work Certification badge is a symbol that tells everyone who we are as an employer. We are a great place to work. It gives people the confidence to submit an application.”

While Dale knows that the teacher shortage will always be a problem, he already has tangible evidence that getting Certified pay off. He says, “The quality of our candidate pool has definitely improved since we became Certified. More and more passive job seekers, those employed by other districts, are beginning to express interest in Deerfield Public Schools, saying, ‘I’m not really looking anywhere else since I’m happy in my current role, but I’ve heard great things about the district and I want to learn more about your positions.’”

As HR leaders know, the strongest applicants tend to be passive job seekers. Thanks to Great Place to Work, Deerfield Public Schools District 109 has a leg-up on hiring in a tremendously difficult job market.