It's no secret that pretty much every place of employment with every age group of clientele is looking to hire at least one SLP. I'm basing this on the number of phone calls, post cards in the mail, and emails I receive on pretty much a daily basis. It's also no secret that many times these job openings (especially the email ones I receive) are for school-based SLPs. One of the SLPs I work with retired at the end of this past school year.
My district has been looking for a replacement for several months. The job is still posted, meaning, as far as I know, no one has been hired to fill the position. In this economy when jobs are hard to come by in the business world and even harder to come by in public education, I guess I'm a bit surprised at the lack of responses to the job posting. There is also a comparable district in our area that I've been told is looking for two SLPs to fill openings for the upcoming school year. The jobs are out there, but where are the applicants?
I realize finding SLPs for school districts is not a new issue. Nor is it an issue in just my state, rather it affects districts across the country. Five years ago when I was with my last district, there were two SLPs openings (one due to a retirement and one because of an added position) for the start of the school year. It took until nearly the end of that school year (12 months after the jobs were posted) to find two SLPs to fill the positions! Districts advertise/promote job openings in different ways. In places I've worked, districts advertise SLP job openings in various ways including: listing them on state-wide data bases, postings on the district's website, placing classified ads in local papers, contacting the closest universities to inform new grads about the openings, and advertising through agencies and publications, including ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathologists.
In my experience, I've found a great way to get interested candidates is through word-of-mouth. My husband was friends with a teacher who had mentioned to me that one of his district's SLPs was resigning and that I should apply (before the job opening was even officially posted). I was looking for a new job at the time anyway, so I applied, interviewed, got the job, and worked there for over 8 years. I might never have known about the job opening if it weren't for word-of-mouth.
Districts also handle unfilled jobs in various ways, none of which are ideal. I've worked for places where a certified long-term substitute are hired as a temporary replacement, the district contracts for SLPs through an agency, students to whom the open job SLP would be assigned don't get services until someone is assigned (with compensatory ed being provided to make up missing services), or in the worst case scenario for us as school-based SLPs (which I know happens far more often than it should), the SLPs already working for the district have to "absorb" the caseload of person who has yet-to-be-hired, stretching us even further than we already are.
Taking all of this into consideration, as a school-based SLP I need to wonder why is it so difficult for districts to find applicants for their openings? I've come up with a list based on my observations/experiences and comments other SLPs have made to me:
I'm sure this list could easily double or triple in length! Questions for the readers - has your district had any difficulty filling open SLP positions? How do they advertise openings? If the openings are not filled, what does your district do? What are some reasons you think that school districts have a hard time finding SLPs to fill job openings? Feel free to comment on Advance's web page or on Facebook!