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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Classifieds

The Classifieds

By Steven Bair
Director of Operations
Beech Grove City Schools
Doctoral Student
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University
Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

            Four thousand eight hundred! 
This is the number of Classified Advertisements or what we call, “Help Wanted” posts that reside on a recent online trip to’s website. 
How did they all get there? Is there that much new job creation occurring? Naysaying political pundits may regale a lack of employment opportunity; however, the fact remains that opportunity exists, yet a good number of these slots go unfilled.
Maybe we just haven’t been watching enough Major League Baseball. 
Major League Baseball you ask?
Yes, MLB.  
Major League Baseball epitomizes the idea of the deft use of the “Talent Scout”!  
The league is loaded with scouts that scour high schools, colleges, minor leagues, their own organizations, and even the world to find individuals with unique talents to fit their positions currently open on their teams. They leave no stone unturned.  Their success at finding matches is directly proportional to their own job security. 
“Help Wanted” is not-at-all passive, on their clock.
Think of your organization for a minute.
Do you have a talent scout in your organization, one not as concerned with a list of skills on a checklist; rather, one with an uncanny ability to find those with the proper talent? Further, do you have one with a thirst for discerning the pearl from the not-so-obvious, answering two very important questions when making a match:
1.     Will the job fit the talents of the employee, and vice versa?
2.     Will this employee’s fit for the role make the organization better from a financial and cultural standpoint?
As Buckingham and Coffman (1999) stated, “The best way to help an employee cultivate his or her talents is to find a role that plays to those talents” (p. 93).
So whom is this scout in your organization that “master scout” who can effectively match talents to a job posting?
Maybe it is you, or could become you!  
Will you carve out time to prioritize this in your leadership role, whether principalship, directorship, superintendent, or otherwise?  The answer to your first question – your willingness to consider scouting on part with “instructional leadership,” is a tough swallow for some.  Yet, in doing so, you are much better able to ensure that your new charges will not only survive their career launches with you, yet will thrive, as well.
            Just like those in MLB, here’s the Playbook for how you do it.  
First, define the characteristics that are needed to successfully fulfill the position. Buckingham and Coffman (1999) would tell you to study the best people you have currently and determine what traits and skills make them successful. Ensure that those who you are scouting have it.  Resist the temptation to hire only on “potential.”  If they don’t have sufficient “actual,” move ON.
Second, take time and observe people. Ask yourself: What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses, and why?  Are they hardwired this way, so that they do this as effortlessly as breathing, or are they laboring to keep the pace?  Is the game at their level, or is it out of their league?  Be honest with yourself, and avoid at all costs desperation hire.  That will COST your organization, and more perniciously, your students.  Great talent scouts then make note of these findings when shopping around, referring back to them frequently when considering opportunity/costs with this applicant or that.  
The final step in the process is for you to approach potential employees and SELL, as would any good scouting follow-up, challenging them to open their eyes to roles in the organization that they can impact, and will in turn, positively impact them!  Keep in mind that the best will be shopping as well.  They’ll have options. 
Your serving as an effective talent scout will make your organization healthier, financially and emotionally.  You benefit from this as well, as the person who finds talent, champions talent, and nurtures such within an organization finds great reward through the dividends of investment, much as would any scout who sees his or her prospects grow in the league.
When you see that next job posting on your business’s website or email, slow down a minute and reflect about being proactive, rather than passive, as moving into scouting mode will certainly minimize the possibility that your competitor will do so without competition.
We suggest that if at all possible and within the realm of what your school attorney will allow, transcend the notion of what was formerly included in the “Classifieds,” and through scouting, keep what you are doing and who you are seeking, more “Classified.”


Steven Bair and Ryan Donlan believe that one of a K-12 school leader’s most important role is proactively seeking talent to fill open positions in our nation’s school system.  In all this talk of running schools more like businesses, to which they take exception from time to time, this is certainly one area in which they would concur!  If you would like to reach them, they can be reached at sbair3@sycamores.indstate or at 

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