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Finding candidates for hard-to-fill roles with Handshake Premium

How the largest and highest-performing free, public charter school network in NYC fills 700-800 skilled roles each year.

Earlier this year, Handshake hosted its first Early Career Summit for early talent recruiting professionals in Orlando, Florida. More than 70 attendees across 50 employers attended the event—representing Fortune 500 companies, governments, schools, and nonprofits.

We sat down with Kristin Irish, Director of Talent Acquisition & Head of Campus Recruiting at Success Academy Charter Schools, to learn how her team engages candidates who are notably harder to find—like skilled dance and debate teachers.

According to its website, 93% of students attending Success Academy Charter Schools are children of color, more than 76% of students are from low-income households, 15% are current and former special needs students, and 8.5% are current and former English language learners.

When it comes to winning the war for talent, public wins such as this aren't always top of mind for candidates, especially those who are less familiar with Success Academy's work. Established in 2006, Success Academy is a relatively young network with a single guiding star: to build the #1 charter school brand in New York.

To do that, Kristin's team needed to move beyond engaging core schools and find talent with the right skills who are interested in living and teaching in the northeast, while continuing to advance perceptions among college students and recent grads along the way.

Hear what Kristin had to say (or read the transcript below):

Find and meaningfully engage the talent you need to fill those hard-to-source roles. Learn how with Handshake Premium.


The bulk of the roles that we hire for are teachers in our schools. We have 47 schools, so we hire about 700-800 teachers a year and that is growing as the number of our schools will grow.

Leveraging tools like Handshake are going to be critical to our growth and being able to have those those resources and really be a partner and extension of our team.

Our hiring your-over-year—where we are today versus where we were a year ago—is about double the hires of where we are today. So it's definitely made an impact in the reach, finding candidates, encouraging them to apply, allowing them to be more focused, more personal—that personal touch that I think is so important in engaging a candidate.

“[Handshake Premium provides] that personal touch that I think is so important in engaging a candidate.”

Kristin Irish, Director of Talent Acquisition & Campus Recruiting at Success Academy Charter Schools

Handshake Premium has really allowed us to focus more and really target certain populations through the campaigns, whether it's a region: Success Academy is in New York, so a lot of [our schools are] in the northeast; targeting other audiences: we hire chess teachers, and debate teachers, and yoga teachers, and dance teachers, and theater teachers.

And being able to send a message out to that target group and have it be personal and be able to send a little bit of what the students in the debate club are doing and how the chess scholars are really winning competitions and excelling as Grandmasters or whatever it may be.

Being able to put that into a message to students at organizations that are chess-related or debate-related or something like that has been invaluable for our recruiting and targeting that population—because they’re hard to find.

The one word I would use to describe Handshake Premium is invaluable. I don't know any other tool that could give us the reach in the way that Handshake Premium does to achieve our goals.

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