Private sector vs. Public sector recruitment

Shot of two colleagues shaking hands during a meeting at work

Prior to my time at Leigh Academies Trust, my experience was mostly in luxury in-house recruitment in the private sector. I was ready to move to education as I craved to be a part of an industry where my work could make a real difference. 

When I first interviewed for the position at Leigh Academies Trust, my manager kept reminding me that “this is a tough role”, “get ready for a busy year”, assuring that I was fully aware of the challenges that I may face and asking “are you ready for this type of volume of recruiting?” I felt ready, but little did I know that this would be the most challenging yet equally rewarding role of my career to date! 

Working in the private sector and in luxury had its challenges; candidate commitment, reluctant applicants, interview drop-outs, salaries and difficulties highlighting a beautiful brand that not everyone knew of or truly understood. This meant that I needed to focus more on promoting the role and brand effectively and not only recruit the best sales-driven talent, but to have an overspilling talent pool to counteract potential staff turnover issues. All recruiters are aware that staff retention in retail is historically problematic, some candidates see it only as a ‘stepping stone’ job, others want a weekend job for the income but not all would take it seriously. This was a big issue for me as I have always believed in working for an organisation and industry that you are passionate about and staying in it for the long run!

Within the public sector and in education, the main difference that I noticed was the candidates’ commitment and warmth. People were no longer focused on sales bonuses, they were focused on helping others and doing their best for them and sticking by it – this was a welcoming and refreshing change. With that being said, I realised the importance and pressures of having an even more robust and streamlined recruitment process in place. I needed to ensure that each candidate was suitably experienced/qualified for specific subjects and specialisms, but also that they had the same pedagogical approach as our academies. There were many things to consider and learn, such as safeguarding, seeing the potential in possible future teachers, advising and hoping that they would take the plunge into a teaching career. 

Typically managing anywhere between 5-20 roles at a time in my previous role, I had to gear up for 50+ roles and broaden my resourcing skills to ensure that I was turning passive candidates into active ones and managing the rest of the processes with tight time constraints. It was great to receive higher volumes of applications and our team has always kept unsuccessful candidates in mind, checking in with them throughout the year. It felt more caring and personal, it felt like you were becoming friends with individuals that had other peoples’ best interests at heart. This really aligned with my personal views and morals. 

With private sector recruitment you are conscious of the time to hire, but there is an element of “I have more time, keep going!” With public sector recruitment, you have to secure your staff by certain timeframes and you can’t stop until you have achieved this; namely around the main teacher resignation deadlines that rule our calendars. This is where the role became more challenging but the buzz of it is fantastic. This is a role that keeps me on my toes but really offers job satisfaction.

Weighing up my experience in both sectors, each has its different pressure points, struggles, positives and negatives. For me, working in this industry has felt like I am recognised individually for my efforts and that I am working with likeminded people who offer a different perspective and level of care. It has been fascinating to get to know teachers and seeing things behind the scenes. It has opened my eyes to how incredibly hard they all work and the invaluable contribution they are making to our society. And I can say that I no longer fear Headteachers!