How many times have you received an email from your HR team in response to a job advertisement you have posted? I’m guessing the answer is plenty. I’m also guessing that you get more the closer you get to the peak recruiting period. I know that’s likely, because in my last job as a principal in Hong Kong, that’s exactly what happened. I was like you. I was busy. Getting heaps of emailed applications wasn’t a bad thing, but getting them from people who didn’t really want the job? That was bad.

The thing I hated about these applications was that the candidates really knew nothing about the school they were sending off applications to. Often would I get an application addressed to Dear Principal, or Dear Director. Worse was when it was addressed to a Mrs Jones telling me how much they wanted to work at the International School of Wherever, which was not even in the same hemisphere as my school. It was obvious that the minute a job appeared on a job board, candidates of that system just fired off their standard letter. I got so fed up with those applications that I just deleted them when they came in.

“The problem for me was always about time. I wanted to spend my time reading applications from the best possible candidates, not from people spamming me.”

You would think that getting applications is always good. I just didn’t have a way to efficiently deal with the number of applications I was getting so I could concentrate on the important ones. All I wanted was a way to find the top 5 candidates. By deleting the emails, I always had a nagging feeling that I was missing really great candidates, and didn’t know how to solve that problem. I didn’t have a better solution for handling applications at the time.

“My choice was to wade through spam emails to find the occasional candidates I really wanted to talk to, or delete the lot of them and probably miss a good one.”

Eventually, I think you will have to do what I did. Change your thinking. I just hope that you come to that understanding more quickly than I did. Here are the key lessons that I learned through recruiting for three schools.

• Less is more. It is always better to choose quality over quantity.
• Use qualifying questions. These are questions that force a candidate to know about your school before they apply.
• Train your people. You need everyone in the school to adopt the same processes so you do get the cream rising to the top.
• You can’t do it alone. No matter how hard you work, teams will always give you a better outcome
• Get a candidate management system to help you. Technology can free your time to concentrate on the important stuff.

You are always going to be busy. Especially during recruiting season. If you want to know how to remove one aspect that could be the biggest time waster during this period, why don’t you download my FREE Cheat Sheet for Dealing With Spam Applicants.


Rob Graham is a Co-Founder and Managing Director of Schrole Group, a company that provides innovative solutions to the problems schools face. One of the reasons that Rob and fellow founder Greg Smith created Schrole Connect was because of the increasing competitiveness of the international teacher recruitment market. The system is designed to streamline the recruitment process and get schools to the quality applicants faster. The system’s unique engine automates applicant screening, referencing and rating of candidates.