Beth Owen, our CEO and co-founder, explains the thinking behind Searchality: how it is designed to be different and how it saves people time.
(This article first appeared in the April 2019 edition of International Teacher Magazine)
Why this, why me?
I’m a grown-up TCK (Third Culture Kid). I’ve attended and worked in international schools and am married to a Principal who has worked at 9 international schools during his career. My husband and I have lived in 8 countries, and I have spent much more of my life outside of my home country, than in it. The world to me is a wonderful, exciting, but manageable thing.
In many ways, the internet and technology have ‘helped’, but for some reason, for international schools and teachers, technology isn’t yet helping make the world manageable enough. I’ve worked in schools and I’ve worked in the private sector. In my corporate network, LinkedIn is incredibly high value – but it doesn’t really work for (and therefore isn’t used by) many schools or teachers.
The pain on both sides
When I have asked dozens of school heads what their biggest pain/challenge is, ‘recruitment’ comes in the top 3 virtually 100% of time. This echoes the findings of a recent survey by COBIS: 94% of British international school leaders said that they found it ‘somewhat’ or ‘very challenging’ to recruit effectively.
(COBIS 2018 report: bit.ly/2018COBISReport)
On the flip side, candidates apply endlessly to jobs via ads or school web sites, or spend money travelling to fairs. Sometimes they don’t hear anything back. Sometimes they progress down the hiring track, only to find at a late stage that either there is a part of the package that is a ‘deal breaker’, or that they are missing a key qualification for the school/host country hiring requirements.
The ‘science’ of recruitment
Recruitment is definitely a combination of ‘art’ and ‘science’, and it really struck me in 2017 (when my husband and his colleagues came home from a recruitment fair thoroughly disenchanted) that so much more could be done to improve ‘the science’ when it comes to getting the right teachers paired up with the right international school vacancies. With colleagues and friends over dinner (and a bottle of red wine!) the idea of a recruitment ‘Tinder for Schools/Teachers’ was born. When I pitched the idea to a couple of very good friends with similar experience and connections to International Schools as me, Searchality started to come into focus. It has since evolved significantly from ‘swiping right’, to a much more complete recruitment and school networking solution.
With a background in Market Research, I started to dive into the problem – interviewing HR Heads and School heads that I know. Without exception, they validated that they wished they could spend (a lot!) less time and money on finding the right people, and that they thought a solution was sorely needed in the market. It was fascinating to hear the range of different problems from the different types of schools – and to conceive of a solution to all these problems.
The principle of connectivity
To ease many of the existing pains, schools and teachers need to be more connected to each other – the same way that some industries are via LinkedIn. Other industry-specific versions of LinkedIn are starting to appear, and that’s what we want to deliver with Searchality. If there was a comprehensive platform for all schools and teachers, you can imagine the possibilities: a user-based Wiki for moving from place to place, country-specific resources on cost-of-living, as well as some really high value data on trends concerning schools and teachers around the world.
What we came up with
We have now established a professional network allowing schools and teachers to enter all of the relevant information for schools – dozens of fields including all of the details both sides need to really understand if a position/candidate is the right fit. Searchality uses algorithms to match candidates to positions, and then (and only then) introduces qualified candidates to schools, and vice versa, without the need for either party searching. Schools can see everything they need to about a candidate, and candidates can see everything they need to about a position and school (class sizes, curriculum, salary/benefits, PD opportunities, teaching load) before they both decide that they want to proceed. No time wasted and no last-minute surprises on either side.
Our new approach is already starting to help schools and candidates. One of our school customers was able to register and complete her school’s profile and upload 3 vacant positions within 45 minutes. We then displayed matched candidates to her dashboard within 7 minutes – all of whom she selected as possible candidates, and we then made the ‘introductions’ via the platform.
High speed match ups
The speed and efficiency of the system gives HR/school heads the capability to self-serve their own recruitment needs by telling the platform exactly what they’re looking for. For our candidates who completed their profiles and told us what they were looking for, we applied for hundreds of jobs that matched their criteria – without them having to lift a finger.
Technology is a great enabler. We’re excited to be using it to connect great people in international schools around the world.