Meeting the Challenge: Creative Hiring Strategies for Higher Education Staff

Sharing is caring!

While there are a multitude of different sectors that compose the education services industry as we know it today, the dynamic landscape of higher and more prestigious education has recently begun receiving increased attention from staffing professionals. Institutions are facing unprecedented challenges in attracting, hiring, and retaining top talent for staff positions. Historically, both private and public colleges and universities alike have faced very little difficulty in attracting high quality prospects, largely due to their reputation alone. Though, the educational services space has rapidly evolved over the last several years, and the incoming class of candidates are seeking far more than just a name. Factors such as skill gaps, evolving job expectations, and budgetary constraints have begun hindering the ability of colleges and universities to retain top tier individuals. To meet these challenges head-on, staffing professionals must embrace creative hiring strategies that resonate with both the values and expectations of today’s workforce.


The Changing Landscape of Higher Education Staffing

Higher education institutions are no longer just competing with each other for talent. They are also competing with other industries that offer attractive benefits, flexible work arrangements, and a sense of purpose. Additionally, the workforce demographics are changing, and a lot of higher education institutions are facing the ‘out with the old and in with the new’ dilemma. With a significant population of the higher education workforce above 55-years-old, the millennials and Gen Z candidates replacing them are seeking more than just a job—they want a meaningful career that aligns with their values and goals.


The Need for Creative Hiring Strategies

To attract and retain top talent in this competitive landscape, staffing professionals seeking candidates for higher education institutions must adopt creative hiring strategies that go beyond traditional recruitment methods. Simply put, it is no longer viable to post job ads and wait for people to apply. Instead, staffing professionals should take the opportunity to fine-tune their recruiting approach, and begin utilizing strategies that focus on:


  1. Aligning the Client Brand with Candidate Values: Utilize the client’s brand to highlight the institution’s values, culture, and commitment to employee growth and development. Utilizing social media and other platforms to showcase the institution’s unique selling points can be a real make-or-break for applicants and helps to create a compelling narrative that resonates with your target candidates.
  2. Utilizing Talent Communities: Tapping into these groups of individuals with similar job qualifications, skill sets, and interest can broaden the candidate pool while helping to prevent educational gaps in hires. When a position is vacant for too long, skill gaps between old hires and new hires form, hindering the potential for team collaboration.
  3. Streamlining Onboarding: Develop an efficient onboarding process to help new hires acclimate quickly to their roles and the organization’s culture. Not only can a positive onboarding experience can improve retention rates, but again, it can also prevent the skill gaps that form when too much time is allowed between one hire joining the organization, and the other exiting.
  4. Focusing on Diversity and Inclusion: Implement strategies to attract a diverse pool of candidates and create an inclusive hiring process. This can improve the quality of hires and enhance the organization’s reputation.
  5. Promoting the Organization’s Mission and Values: Utilize the organization’s mission, culture, commitment to employee growth, and impact in the community to attract candidates who align with these principles. This can help to create a sense of purpose and belonging among employees – particularly those who belong to the millennial and Gen Z demographic cohorts and place high value in these aspects of a job. Unique selling points such as these can be a real make-or-break for applicants and helps to create a compelling narrative that resonates with your target candidates.
  6. Understanding the Market: Stay updated with trends and challenges in the education services sector, such as changes in curriculum, technology adoption, and demographic shifts. This understanding helps tailor recruitment strategies to meet specific needs. Though, it should be noted that the educational services field is always adapting. Ensuring that you are staying one step ahead can better your chances of accessing high level candidates before competitors.

To conclude, the growing need to adopt creative recruiting strategies in higher education is driven by the need to attract, hire, and retain top talent in a competitive and rapidly changing environment. By leaning into the change, and tailoring recruiting approaches to meet the exclusive needs of the new wave of candidates entering the space, staffing agencies can position themselves as employers of choice and build a high-performing workforce that drives success and innovation.

Drew Anson

Chief Delivery Officer

Drew Anson is Chief Delivery Officer at Phaxis, a Workforce Solutions Company based in New York.

In this role, Drew leads the delivery and recruiting working closely with the leadership team to define a model that is efficient at supporting the firm’s current needs and is scalable for future growth.

Drew is a seasoned executive with more than 13 years of Services & Recruitment experience. In that time, he has supported numerous Fortune 100/500/1000 organizations across industries by providing global workforce solutions, namely resources and thought leadership for large-scale projects, implementations, and managed services.

Prior to joining Phaxis predecessor firm Park Hudson in 2021, Drew spent three years at engineering technology and talent solutions firm, Collabera, as Director of Sales in North Carolina. Earlier in his career, he spent nearly eight years at Insight Global, most recently as Sales Manager of the Columbus, OH office.

He holds a degree from Central Michigan University in Sales & Marketing.

Favorite Book:   Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
Favorite Team:   Michigan Wolverines
Inspirational Quote:  “There is no substitute for hard work.”  – Thomas A. Edison