30. Mindfully Finding & Hiring Your School’s Dream Team

In this episode, Beth Yoder, CEO and Founder of P3Hired and seasoned professional in the recruiting and talent management space, offers communication and social tactics for hiring and building your school’s dream team, sharing the importance of remaining open, listening to understand, trusting your gut, and holding true to your integrity.

About Beth Yoder:

Beth is a seasoned professional in the recruiting and talent management space. After a successful career in corporate America, Beth ventured out on her own 10 years ago now and started P3Hired, a search firm focused on a diverse number of industries, helping businesses and nonprofits find exceptional talent for their teams.

Find Beth Yoder:

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Show Transcript

Aubrey: Welcome to Mindful School Marketing. I’m Aubrey Bursch.

Tara: And I’m Tara Claeys. Today we’re joined by Beth Yoder. Beth is a seasoned professional in the recruiting and talent management space. After a successful career in corporate America, Beth ventured out on her own 10 years ago and started P3Hired, a search firm focused on a diverse number of industries, helping businesses and nonprofits find exceptional talent for their teams. Welcome Beth. Thanks so much for being here today. 

Beth: I am so excited to be with you today. Thanks for having me. 

Aubrey: Yes, Beth, we are so excited because this is such an important topic that really impacts schools. So thank you so much for coming. I’d love to know. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your journey to this space of recruiting and talent management?

Beth: Okay. Absolutely. Well, I’ll try and keep it brief. But the longer, the short is, one of the most interesting parts of my background is I’m one of 10 kids. And so I grew up in Pennsylvania, had a, you know, fast and furious type of childhood and figured out a lot on my own and, and went to, you know, great schools and enjoyed, a lovely, education background and went to Penn state, got my master’s in Philadelphia and started my work in corporate America with Aramark corporation. And so, I started in operations and quickly went into what back then they called staffing. And you know, right now we call that recruiting and talent acquisition and talent management. So I enjoyed a really long career in corporate America. And 10 years ago, like Tara said, I, I ventured out on my own and started P3Hired, as my own venture, my own company, which has grown significantly over the course of the last 10 years. But those formative years of, you know, really growing up in a large family and, you know, enjoying that, but also some of the skills, you know, and resilience that’s required in entrepreneurship and doing what I do every day, I feel like that was built in at a very early age. So yeah, on that note, I don’t know where you want to get started.

Tara: Yeah. Thanks so much. It’s so interesting. I, I can’t imagine growing up in a family that large and I’m sure it has impacts on how you have been exposed to all different personalities growing up too which is a good fit for what you do. And I want to talk a little bit about having you on the show today because we really wanted to talk about staffing, hiring, for schools because even though it’s not necessarily thought of as a marketing task, if you don’t have good staff, if you don’t have good teachers, your school’s going to be harder to market, right? So, so hiring is super important, having good staff and faculty. And I’m sure everyone listening knows that. It’s also really, really challenging. It’s probably one of the most challenging things that any business owner, which a school is, right? But any business owner has to do is manage their stuff, hiring people, hearing from people that they’re leaving, replacing people, all of that is stressful and challenging and finding the right fit. So let’s start out with kind of this overarching question of what are the key steps in a search process in order for it to be the most effective and successful? 

Beth: Yeah, that’s such a good question and way to frame how you build a team because yeah, I think in a school environment, your teacher, who are the face, who are they? What’s the culture, what’s the, what does that team represent? And in terms of how you’re being branded and what the perception is and it’s so palpable. So I think the first thing in terms of when you’re building your team is really who are you? Like really being clear on what is the culture of your organization and your school? What are you trying to represent? And being very clear on not only the technical skills of a particular role that you are trying to recruit, but also 90% of, of fit is what’s not on the job description. So being really clear on the characteristics, the soft skills, the, you know, all other things that go into what makes up the whole person. So I think that there’s always, yes, you need the technical, when I say technical, meaning the required skills or maybe years of experience being really clear on that and building a very strong job description around what those are. And also being mindful of what types of characteristics really make up the story of the school or a story of the position that you really need to be hiring for. And sometimes what I see is people- there, it might be an urgent need. It might be a, you know, a void or open position on your team that is critical. And so there’s, sometimes people go into panic mode. And so you need to slow down, take the time on the front end to develop a really strong case for what you’re looking for and why. Like, what is going a successful person in this, in this particular role will be successful if? Being very clear on that from the get-go. So I feel like there’s sometimes a rushed behaviors happen just because when you lose someone or you have a position that’s open, it’s very natural to panic and feel very scared by that. And so, but kind of slowing down, taking a moment and really being mindful about who’s going to be the best fit for that, for that particular role is important.

Aubrey: That is so important. I mean, I think as schools, so many, especially small schools, if I’m speaking of small schools is, you know, they’re, they’re thinking about, they, they wear many hats and so when someone leaves, all those hats. They’re like, oh my goodness, how are we going to continue functioning and moving forward as a school, when this person who wore so many hats is leaving? And so I could see them go into full panic mode. So I appreciate the wisdom of figuring out like who we are, you know, what, what kind of person, not just the skill set, like the technical skillset, but what kind of person really is needed in this role? And I’ve seen it in so many small schools where the person might not have all the technical skills, but their personality and what they bring in the soft skills and everything else makes up for that. And it can be trained on the technical skills, so- 

Beth: Yeah, and there’s a lot of, you know, in those cases where it’s a small environment and they do have to wear many hats, like the transferable skills that can come from a variety of different backgrounds, like being pretty open-minded when it comes to who, who can fill these shoes. And I think people are surprised sometimes. I mean, I always try to present a spectrum of candidates that for a variety of reasons could fit and why we think, you know, they feel, you know, that they, um, What we would deem on target for a particular opening, and this is after, you know, a lot of conversation around what, what the hiring team is looking for. But I think people are surprised. They’re like, yeah, they, you know, they might have eight of the 10 boxes checked, but, but those other two we can train on. And, you know, so like figuring out which qualifications are non-negotiable. Figuring out where the trainable areas are and being really open. And again, going back to those softer skills and those characteristics because those are the things that won’t change, those are the things you cannot train on. So going back to, you know, being open and open-minded, and sometimes you’ll surprise yourself.

Aubrey: I appreciate that. And I’m curious, like, so if we’re talking about all this, how does one even write a job description? Based on, you know, you have the technical skills and you have the soft skills, like, how does that come to be then? 

Beth: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s a craft. And I know a lot of people discount job descriptions cause they tend to be, you know, pretty general, you know, just a little bit to get, you know, to put something out on a job board perhaps. But the good ones that I’ve seen written actually talk, you know, give some background on the organization. What differentiates you, because in this crazy market, if you’re not differentiating yourself and getting on your stump speech to say, why all the reasons why you should join this organization, then you’re really left behind. So developing the technical skills, but also, you know, I think it’s also helpful on the onset for job description sometimes to include what you will be doing. You kind of talk, here are the things you will be doing. And in 30 days in 60 days in 90 days here is, you know, some of the things you can expect and laying it out pretty, you know, and that’s attractive. Like people like to read job descriptions that read that way rather than, you know, the typical bulleted, eight years of experience and, you know, like they just get, they glaze over. So, you know, it’s just a different way of looking at a job description. And the other thing I would say that’s important. That’s on my radar every day is diversity, equity and inclusion. And a lot of people aren’t putting the type of education that’s required now in schools, you probably, obviously, you know, there’s certain requirements that you need. But we are seeing ways that you can write a job description that are very inclusive and making the actual statement: we want to hear from you, whether you have all 10 boxes checked or not, we would like to hear from you. So making sure that you always have a diversity, equity and inclusion as part of your mindset is super important. And I think you’ll be, you will be surprised at how you can write a job description that can really be perceived as very inclusive. 

Tara: I’m so grateful for you mentioning that- that is really important. And I think it’s something that’s probably overlooked and has been overlooked and is, is more top of mind now for sure. And we’ve talked to some folks on, on the show who specialize in diversity, equity, inclusion work in schools, but I don’t think we really talked about it as much in terms of hiring and staffing. So I really appreciate your bringing that into the conversation. so once you’ve written this great job description and you’ve gotten some candidates, hopefully, one thing that I found really challenging is interviewing. I’m just, it makes me nervous on either end, of course, like the person being interviewed is nervous, but I think it’s also, if there’s a skill that I’m sure that you can share some tips with us on, on how to conduct a good interview, what to ask, you know, what not to ask and kind of what to look for. Can you talk about interviewing? 

Beth: Yeah, and you’re not alone. I mean I recruit and interview people every single day. And trust me when I’m hiring for my company, I’m nervous. You’re on display. You are showcasing, you are trying to put your best foot forward. Just as much as you’re trying to figure out if this person is a fit. So you’re definitely not alone, like the anxiety around interviewing is normal, but what I, you know, just some pointers I would, I would say, you know, to keep in mind, and this is not, certainly it’s not an exhaustive list. But it’s really important for you to define and hear with your own ears, in their own words what they’re looking for first. Do not lead with an overview of the position and everything you’re looking for, because guess what they’ll answer with those particular answers, given what you’ve already told them. So never start with: here’s exactly what I’m looking for, do you have these things? What I try to do because you have to have the authentic, genuine match- you want to hear from them first. Tell me what you’re looking for. What’s most important to you about a job? What do you like in a boss what’s worked well for you? And then you can go into all of your behavioral questions that can talk about, but you can tee up the meeting and the interview by saying: I’m going to review this role in full with you, but first let’s start with, what’s really important to you because that’s important to me. And so like let them talk and you can have, you know, you can have leading questions, things that, you know, I oftentimes will ask: everyone has non-negotiables and everyone has nice-to-haves, like, I like to start with understanding their wishlist first, and then talking, you know, hearing more about their experience, talking about formative experiences in their, you know, in their career that have made them who they are today, why they’re ready for this position. And also knowing that they’ve done a little bit of research, about the organization that they’re interviewing with. But then at the end, you know, making sure that you’re talking about. You know, the role, you know, the, some of the great parts of the organization that you think are differentiating. But it’s really important, a lot of times people are giving you the, the answers to the test, if you will. When interviewers give the answers to the test right out of the gate, and it’s like, no, like don’t do that. Make sure you give them voice first. And then you know, if there’s an authentic match here and then you can guide your conversation from there.

Aubrey: I think that’s so important. I can’t even tell you how many interviews I’ve been on or interview panels. I’ve sat on where that question was not the first question asked, so I appreciate you sharing that with us. Thank you. So let’s say now you’ve found the person, right? And now they’re part of your staff and you’re looking to keep all these wonderful people that you have. So what are some ideas for rewarding and retaining good staff? 

Beth: Well, I think the recognition, you know, of a job well done, I think regular communication and proactive communication. So making sure that you have set meetings and you’re the one proposing those meetings ahead of time. And just say: we want to get some time on, on our calendars just to have touch base and that’s formal and informal opportunities. Like I always recommend, you know, it’s great to have the formal check-ins, but it’s also nice to say: Hey, let’s go grab a cup of coffee in the break room. You know, like, how’s it going? I heard your daughter, you know, has this, that, or the other thing going on. I think there’s some there’s intrinsic value that people feel when there’s a personal touch because it gets so fast paced and everybody’s really, really busy and there’s a job to be done, but if you’d just step back, It takes some time to just kind of, you know, take an inventory of how they’re doing personally and professionally. I think this is a theme, like the whole person, like figuring out what drives them. Like what’s, what’s gone well for you this week or this month, you know, versus like last month and what’s changed. Like, how are you feeling? I think that drives a lot of the loyalty factor. And of course, you know, anything that rewards and pats on the back are always important, you know, but I just think that the feedback, the regular feedback is really, really critical. And you can define that early on in the relationship of someone joining, you know, figuring out what, you know, when have they felt the most valued in a past experience, a past organization? Because again, having them tell you, not assuming that actually not assuming that a pat on the back does anything for them, you know, it might be, I was, you know, I had a parent contact me or I sent out a survey and the parents survey was amazing, you know, like they’re getting feedback other ways. So figuring out what makes them tick is really important too, especially in this, it’s so competitive right now, people are getting, whether it’s education or non-profits or corporate environments, people are getting plucked and recruited and poached to go somewhere else for a lot more money these days. So like, how do you ensure that they’re feeling happy and satisfied in what they’re doing every day? 

Tara: Thanks for sharing those ideas. I think that’s really helpful. And just the asking the question, you know, what’s worked for you before? However you put that even as part of the interview or when you first bring them on is brilliant. And that’s a great idea to do. 

Beth: And on that, on that note, Tara, like I think one of the pitfalls I’ve heard, you know, just in terms of getting candidates that I’m recruiting and I’m presenting them to various organizations or corporations. One of the things that does not go over well, like the work, like some of the pitfalls of . Interviewing is when, do it do a really clear check on, are you doing most of the talking? Because so many people go into these interviews and they barely have time to talk about themselves. And it’s more prevalent than you would ever imagine. So that’s, I just wanted to make sure I added that as well. 

Tara: Yeah. That’s really important. I think that’s a really good thing to point out. And I mean, it’s, it’s not just interviewing, I think all of us as and this will lead into my next question, but, you know, being a listener is, is important. And we, as I’m talking and talking here, we like to hear ourselves talk, or, you know, it’s, I think that that’s a natural tendency that we have as human beings. So that’s something to keep in mind. And, uh, and I want to transition to ask you a little bit about mindfulness because. We’ve talked about how staffing relates to marketing, but also we talk about mindfulness on the show and how mindfulness applies to the jobs that we do. So when we talk about how it applies to school administration, marketing professionals, how do you define mindfulness, Beth? You’ve mentioned it actually. You’ve used that term earlier. How, how do you define it and how do you apply it to your professional practice? 

Beth: Well, mindfulness, gosh, that’s like a big, loaded term, you know, like that you could, I could talk for maybe three hours about mindfulness, but I think it’s being in tune with your own expectations and vision and being in tune with other people’s motivators. Like I think that aligning- being mindful to me is being aware and perceptive and thoughtful about, and again, if we want to equate it to, you know, talent, the mindfulness can come in, you know, again, like making sure that you understand your needs, but also understanding that, you know, people can come in and come from a variety of different backgrounds and impact really differently and have a really great impact in different ways. And there’s some biases that happen too. Like, so like being mindful of what your unconscious biases might be. And again, I’m bringing it back to recruiting, but like, if we talk broadly about mindfulness, it’s just being aware. I think my definition would be being aware and at least sensitive to other people’s viewpoint and that they come from a different level of experiences of being really understanding and listening. I think listening is a big part and listening with grace because we don’t always agree with what people say, but giving people space to talk about what they, what they feel and what things are important to them. So, I don’t know, like I’m kind of a softy though. Like I think, you know, I love, I love giving people time to talk about things that are important to them. And so I feel like I use mindfulness every day in my craft because you have to listen really well and you have to be perceptive. And trust me, it’s, it’s a field that you can lose your faith in humanity pretty quickly because you know, it’s fast and furious and it gets to be pretty competitive. And what I’ve been mindful of is to hold true to my integrity and I’ve learned to trust my gut. And there is a lot of power in that. So like making sure that in all the craziness of whatever’s going on around you to make sure you still trust yourself and know that. Your intentions, whatever they are, you need to hold true to them not be swayed. So that’s my long-winded answer of what mindfulness is. 

Tara: I appreciate that. I think we didn’t really talk about trusting your gut when it comes to making decisions, but I’m glad you brought that up too because I think that’s an important point as well. 

Beth: Yeah. I mean, there’s definitely ways you can formalize, you know, you can balance the trust your gut in an interview with a formalized quantitative scoring system, for example. So there’s ways to kind of, if you’re more of a quantitative evaluator, like you can use calibration reports and like asking the same question of every single candidate and how did they, how would you rank their score? And you, you know, you can define a score for a candidate to just as much as you, you know, rely on your gut for some things, but like there’s other ways to, in an interview to actually make it more quantifiable.

Aubrey: Thank you so much for sharing. And I appreciate that, that balance that you mentioned at that the gut or state in data too, you can have both. So we’re going to transition into some questions that we always ask all our guests so I’m gonna kick us off. So what are the most important things you do to grow personally and professionally? 

Beth: Oh, my goodness. I am, well, I have to have some level of movement every day. Like that’s a big part of my day, whether it’s running, cycling, yoga, you name it. Having some level of physical movement. And then also from a meditative . Standpoint, having quiet at the start and end of my day. So, you know, making sure I start the day and end the day with, you know, and my ideal is 45 minutes, believe it or not, of quiet. As I start the day with my coffee and it’s not really a meditation, it’s really, it’s a quiet space to organize my day and my thoughts and end my day. And then from a professional standpoint, I love my colleagues. I love, I mean, Tara, you’ve been a great colleague and we’ve learned from each other over the years and I’d been part of networking groups, being part of, you know, these professional networks and relying on who, not only mentors, but people who are also in similar spaces and not similar spaces. So I actually like the fact of trying to go into spaces that I’m afraid of. And I said: why is this event scaring me so much? Well you’re going to do it. And that’s why I need to do it, you know? So I was like: you have to. When you get that feeling, like I’m nervous about this, whether it’s a networking event, some thing you’re invited to like the, like a podcast- no, I’m just kidding. You have to do it. And by, by making yourself uncomfortable you, I grow. And I know, I feel, I feel the growth after I do things and you feel proud, you know, you did it and it can be something small or large. 

Tara: Yeah, that’s great. Thanks for sharing that. All right. I’m going to ask you some rapid fire questions. Kind of like Brene Brown style. If you could put one book as mandatory reading in the high school curriculum, what would it be? 

Beth: The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz. 

Tara: Yeah. I think someone else has mentioned that one. 

Aubrey: Yeah, they have. That’s a good one. What is one app you couldn’t live without? 

Beth: Oprah Super Soul Sunday and Brene Brown, Unlocking Us. 

Tara: All right. Okay, next rapid fire question. What are you reading right now?

Beth: The Last Thing He Told Me. 

Tara: Okay. I don’t know that one. 

Aubrey: I’m excited. We’re going to add to our reading list. Fantastic. By the way, we have a Goodreads list, so everyone go check that out. Last question. What is one great piece of advice you’d like to leave us with? 

Tara: I mean, you’ve already given us a bunch, but let’s wrap it up with one final piece. 

Beth: Positive energy gets positive results. So the positive energy you can give out and believe will come back to you, tenfold. So, you know, making sure that you lead with a positive attitude and there is, I guess, positive begets positive and making sure that you really lead your day. And I guess that’s part of my quietness in the morning is leading with that, getting into the positive mindset and gratitude as you start your day.

Tara: Thank you so much back. It’s been a real treat to have you with us today. I appreciate your joining us. Where can people find you online? 

Beth: You can connect with me on LinkedIn, please. Like send me a, send me a connect request. And you can follow me on P3Hired on LinkedIn or on our website. P3Hired.com and my LinkedIn address, Beth Yoder. It might be Elizabeth Yoder. So if you can’t find me, just look under P3Hired and Beth Yoder. 

Tara: Thank you so much, Beth. 

Aubrey: Thank you, Beth. 

Beth: Have a great day. 

Aubrey: Take care. Bye. 

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