While schools across the country have begun to use technology effectively, a large number of these schools do not employ a devoted technology professional or a group of such staff members. Experts agree that technology personnel are essential to keep computers and systems running smoothly, so why haven’t all schools hired tech experts? The authors think many school systems are unsure how many people to hire, what expertise these employees should have, and so on.

Cache County School District in North Logan, Utah, maintains a technology network for 13,000 students in 21 schools. The district employs a broad staff of technology experts, and the authors–each of whom works for the district–organize the hiring process for such professionals into five basic steps:

  1. Formulate job descriptions. Make sure these contain accurate details about the school district, necessary qualifications, and the duties of the jobs to be filled. Make them interesting and appealing to potential candidates. Closing date and salary should be open-ended, allowing for negotiation and flexibility.
  2. Create salary ranges. While many school districts have two separate salary classifications–one for teachers and one for clerical staff–it is essential to come up with a third distinct salary range for technology professionals. This is particularly important, as you’ll be competing with the private sector to attract qualified technology personnel. Benefits and hours to be worked, including after-school support (if necessary), also should be specified–but the more flexibility you can build into the schedule, the more attractive it will be to prospective candidates.
  3. Interview candidates. An interview committee should include a broad sampling of school professionals, and questions should be probing and thoughtful, targeting the candidate’s ability to solve problems and make decisions. Also, check references for each candidate to verify his or her actual technological expertise.
  4. Make a selection. Obviously, the best person for any technology position is someone with technical expertise and an understanding of education. Candidates also should possess an ability to help others learn and to work under pressure with a wide variety of personalities–in other words, a unique combination of technical and personal skills.
  5. Meet with the final candidate in person. Confidentially offer the position with all applicable benefits, and make sure you communicate why the candidate was chosen, emphasizing his or her strengths in meeting your needs. This will go a long way toward helping you retain top-notch staff, now that you’ve found them.