Case study

Education recruitment consultant — Joseph Raffell

As the UK Talent Manager at Engage Education, it's Joseph's job to source suitable teachers, while ensuring that candidates are guided and supported through the process

How did you get your job in education recruitment?

I grew up surrounded by teachers - my parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles. After doing some work experience in local schools I decided that being in the classroom wasn't for me, but that I'd love to still be involved in the teaching and education sector.

I started my career as a resourcer about five years ago, and I've since had various jobs within education recruitment, including training manager and resourcing manager. My current position combines all my previous experience into a role where I can really make a difference.

What's a typical working day like?

I typically start my day by sitting down with my team leader, and putting some time into matching our candidates with roles that suit their needs. We speak with and assess candidates every day, so we also check in a couple of times a week to make sure we've put the right candidates forward for the right roles. I'll also spend some time making sure each of our new applicants is being contacted as soon as possible, before getting ready for our evening assessment centre - which involves checking in with our candidates to make sure they're prepared, and setting up the venue.

Is your degree relevant?

I have a degree in politics and a Masters in politics and public policy, so in some ways no. However, I've found that the analytical and communication skills I gained at university have been really valuable. I studied education policy as part of my Masters and I like to think that it gives me a really good understanding of the challenges facing our schools and candidates at the moment.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love meeting people who are really passionate about becoming teachers - as so often in the news, we hear negative things about education and teacher recruitment in this country. But it's great to meet and speak with people who really want to make a difference in the lives of children in their local area. We need those people and it's amazing to see them thrive as part of our programme.

What are the challenges?

The hardest thing to do is find the right match for a candidate. Although sometimes it's easy and we get it right the first time, there are also times when finding the right fit takes longer.

One of our other major challenges is speaking to candidates when they don't make it onto the programme. We know our applicants work really hard on their applications, but we have a limited number of places to offer, so competition can be fierce. I make a point to always offer our candidates feedback to ensure they're able to move forward with their careers.

How has your role developed and what are your ambitions?

Something really exciting in my role has been the expansion of Engage's remit into teacher training. Throughout my career, I've recruited some amazing graduates who want to work in education, but with the Engage Education Teacher Training Programme I've been able to put that experience together with my learning and development background to create a fully formed programme where our candidates can gain their PGCE and become the teachers of the future.

What advice would you give to those considering a career in teaching?

  • Passion goes a long way - You might not have the best academic qualifications, but as long as you meet the basic requirements, showing a passion for teaching and children, and a desire to really make an impact, this can mean a lot more to a school than someone who has higher academic achievement but doesn't share the same energy.
  • Respect the learning curve - Some prospective teachers get put off at how difficult they find their first few weeks of training. Understand that becoming a teacher seems hard at first, but once you've finished your training you'll marvel at how easy you find things that seemed difficult in the beginning.
  • Use those around you - To make navigating that learning curve easier, use the teachers and others (like the team at Engage) around you to lean on and get advice. We all understand how difficult it can sometimes be, and we've a wealth of experience you can learn from.
  • Volunteer - We work with some graduates who have experience outside of a formal education and want to make the transition to becoming a teacher. We welcome anyone who is passionate about education. However, you won't necessarily know how you feel about a school until you spend a day working in a classroom. Volunteer at your local primary school or ask your university if they have any programmes that will allow you to visit schools in the area.

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