The 5 Biggest Challenges for Ed Tech Hiring
The Ed Tech industry is a unique and exciting space, defined by a diversity of talent coming from sources ranging from gaming, to education, to B2B SaaS. This unique breadth of talent also creates some unique challenges for hiring. We explain some of the most important challenges in this blog.
What makes Ed Tech hiring challenging?
As a leading executive search firm in the Ed Tech industry and manager of the industry's largest job board, the team at HighFive Partners has extensive ground-level experience sourcing talent for specific Ed Tech industry roles. The challenges listed below are rooted in our experiences with some of the biggest obstacles to finding talent suited to Ed Tech companies' unique needs.
Of course, hiring for every Ed Tech position is different! The challenges below represent industry-wide issues that apply when hiring for just about any Ed Tech role.
Challenge 1: Industry Needs for Diverse Skillsets and Backgrounds
The Ed Tech industry draws from an amazing breadth of sources for its talent, and in many cases, the most difficult positions to hire can be those furthest outside of an organization's core competency. Hiring a former teacher or educational administrator may require a very different strategy, for example, than recruiting a software development professional. And hiring a skilled sales leader may require a different tack than recruiting an education policy expert.
Ed Tech companies should take care to tailor their sourcing strategies to the unique requirements and skills of different positions.
Depending on the makeup of an organization's current team, there are opportunities to both source people specifically from Ed Tech and explore talent from adjacent industries like gaming or healthcare. At HighFive Partners, we often find that clients prefer to hire sales professionals who are familiar with the industry. This is because experience with, for example, the nuances of budget cycles and university structures, can help accelerate the learning curve in Ed Tech roles. For many other roles in the back office positions or operations, however, hiring strategies can often benefit from sourcing more broadly outside of the Ed Tech industry.
Challenge 2: Strong Candidates May Not Know What Ed Tech Can Offer
The Ed Tech industry has already proven its staying power. The industry offers a number of highly-respected unicorn startups and has produced multiple, multi-billion dollar public companies in the last few years alone.
Nevertheless, many attractive candidates may not know what to think when they hear "Ed Tech." Does the term refer to in-classroom hardware, like smartboards? Or does it refer to higher ed management software? What about consumer-facing apps like Duolingo?
The answer, of course, is "all of the above." But not all job seekers know this!
Challenge 3: A Need to Recognize Different Priorities of Different Candidates
A natural consequence of the diversity of backgrounds in the Ed Tech industry is that candidate priorities can vary substantially from person to person.
In short, this is because Ed Tech can play a very different role in advancing the career of individuals with different backgrounds. For a teacher or former educational administrator, for example, the attraction of Ed Tech may be as a professional development launching pad for a broader tech career. But for a grizzled startup veteran, Ed Tech positions may be attractive as a pivot toward more meaningful, socially impactful work.
Ultimately, the Ed Tech industry can offer rewarding career paths for individuals coming from very different backgrounds, and it is essential to take take time to understand why a given role will be attractive to the right candidate.
Challenge 4: Overly Specific or Broad Job Profiles Hamper Successful Hiring (Particularly for Multi-Functional Roles)
Because the number of skills, roles and background in the Ed Tech industry is so diverse, it can be challenging to conceptualize the right job profile for a given position. In startups, people often need to wear multiple hats, which only complicates the process of creating an effective profile.
Based on our experience working with Ed Tech clients, it can be easy to create an initial job profile that is either too broad or too narrow. Timely market intelligence can be instrumental in understanding when to strategically expand or narrow job profiles to find the right talent.
Focusing on clear quantitative and qualitative metrics for hiring is a great way to avoid becoming restricted by preconceived notions about who can effectively fill a position. For example, what's the revenue model that you like to see employed by your new hire? What is their track record in driving new business for sales roles? If you are hiring product managers, what is their experience taking a product from ideation to commercialization?
Challenge 5: Maintaining a Full Funnel of Talent to Keep Pace with Growth
The Ed Tech industry is growing rapidly, and supporting this growth with the talent it needs requires a multi-tiered effort:
- Sourcing talent from both in and outside of the Ed Tech industry.
- Recruiting early career professionals through both direct recruitment and broader career education about the benefits of working in Ed Tech.
- Understanding how to reach talent from fields like education, who may not know they could be a strong fit for the right role in a technology company.
Much like running a sales funnel, an effective hiring strategy is not just about closing the deal with the perfect candidate. To work effectively, a hiring strategy needs a full funnel from bottom to top, and that means attracting as many qualified prospects as possible.
HighFive Partners' job platform can help.
Find Talent on the Largest Industry-Specific Job Platform in Ed Tech
If you need help sourcing Ed Tech candidates, HighFive Partners' job platform provides a powerful solution. As we discussed above, the market for Ed Tech talent is truly unique. That's precisely why we took it upon ourselves to build the biggest, industry-specific jobs platform in Ed Tech. In our experience, this specialized focus is the best way to source candidates with the right mix of skills, backgrounds, and personal goals.