Early years children recruitment and onboarding strategies

zinc logo icon
Jordie Black
Updated on:

Finding and retaining top talent in the early years education sector is a significant challenge. With high turnover rates and a fiercely competitive job market, it's crucial for businesses to implement effective recruitment and onboarding strategies. This article explores the best practices for acquiring and integrating new talent, focusing on the importance of a thorough background checking process.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to develop a strong employer brand to attract the right candidates.
  • Strategies for using social media and staffing solutions in recruitment.
  • The best practices for onboarding new employees effectively.

Why talent acquisition is important in the early years sector?

The early years education sector is a crucial stage in a child's development, and it requires highly skilled and dedicated professionals. However, with high turnover rates and a competitive job market, it can be challenging to find and retain top talent.

Effective talent acquisition strategies are essential for early years businesses to attract and hire the best candidates. By investing in talent acquisition, organisations can ensure they have a strong team of educators who are committed to providing high-quality care and education to young children.

Compliance and regulations

One of the main reasons why talent acquisition is crucial in the early years sector is compliance and regulations. Early years businesses must comply with strict regulations and standards set by governing bodies, such as Ofsted in the UK and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in the US.

Hiring qualified and experienced staff is essential for meeting these regulations and providing a safe and nurturing environment for children. By having effective talent acquisition strategies in place, businesses can ensure they are hiring individuals who meet the necessary qualifications and have the skills and experience to provide high-quality care.

High turnover rates

High turnover rates are a common challenge in the early years sector. According to a survey by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), staff turnover rates in the UK early years sector are at an all-time high of 22%. This turnover not only affects the quality of care provided but also has financial implications for organisations..

Effective talent acquisition strategies can help reduce turnover rates by attracting and hiring the right candidates who are committed to their role and the organisation's mission.

Best practices for talent acquisition in the early years sector

Develop a strong employer brand

Developing a strong employer brand is crucial for attracting top talent in the early years sector. Your employer brand is how your organisation is perceived by potential candidates, and it can greatly influence their decision to apply for a job.

To develop a strong employer brand, HR and recruitment teams should focus on showcasing their values, mission, and culture. This can be done through social media, company websites, and employee testimonials. By highlighting what makes your organisation unique and a great place to work, you can attract top talent who align with your values and goals.

Ensuring safety through comprehensive background checks

The safety of children in early years education is paramount, making thorough background checks an essential step in the recruitment process. These checks help ensure that new hires do not have a history that could pose a risk to children and that they meet all regulatory compliance standards.

  • Criminal History: Checking for any criminal records is fundamental. This should include checks at the national, state, and local levels to ensure comprehensive coverage.
  • Previous Employment Verification: Confirming details with previous employers can verify an applicant's work history and conduct in similar roles.
  • Educational Qualifications: Verifying educational credentials ensures that candidates meet the necessary qualifications required for their roles.
  • Reference Checks: Speaking with professional references provides additional insights into the candidate's abilities and character.

Integrating background  checks into recruitment

Background checks should be integrated seamlessly into the recruitment process, ensuring they are completed before making any job offers. Transparency with candidates about the necessity and scope of these checks fosters trust and professionalism.

Legal considerations

It's crucial to conduct all background checks in compliance with employment laws to avoid discrimination. Early years businesses should be aware of their legal obligations under relevant child protection laws and employment legislation.

Utilise staffing solutions

Staffing solutions, such as recruitment agencies and job boards, can be a valuable resource for early years HR and recruitment teams. These solutions have access to a pool of qualified and experienced candidates, making the recruitment process more efficient and effective.

When choosing a staffing solution, it's important to consider their experience and reputation in the early years sector. They should have a thorough understanding of the industry and be able to provide candidates who meet the necessary qualifications and have the right skills and experience.

Utilise social media

Social media is a powerful tool for attracting top talent in the early years sector. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can be used to showcase your organisation's culture, values, and job opportunities.

Organisations can also use social media to connect with potential candidates and build relationships with them. This can help create a pipeline of qualified candidates for future job openings.

Onboarding Best Practices in the Early Years Sector

Effective onboarding is crucial for retaining top talent in the early years sector. It sets the tone for the employee's experience and can greatly influence their decision to stay with the organisation long-term.

Start before the first day

Onboarding should start before the employee's first day. This can include sending them a welcome email, providing them with information about the organisation and their role, and setting up any necessary paperwork.

By starting the onboarding process early, HR and recruitment teams can help new employees feel welcomed and prepared for their first day.

Provide a comprehensive orientation

A comprehensive orientation is essential for new employees to understand the organisation's culture, policies, and procedures. This can include an overview of the organisation's mission and values, an introduction to key staff members, and a review of important policies and procedures.

Organisations should also provide new employees with a handbook or manual that outlines their role, responsibilities, and expectations. This can serve as a reference for employees as they settle into their new role.

Assign a mentor or buddy

Assigning a mentor or buddy to new employees can greatly enhance their onboarding experience. This person can serve as a point of contact for any questions or concerns and help the new employee feel more comfortable in their new role.

Mentors or buddies can also provide valuable insights and tips for success in the organisation, helping new employees feel more integrated and supported.

Real-world recruitment and onboarding examples in the early years sector

Bright horizons

Bright Horizons, a leading provider of early education and preschools, has a comprehensive recruitment and onboarding strategy in place. They utilise a combination of staffing solutions, and employee referrals to attract top talent.

Their career page emphasises their inclusive, supportive work environment that values personal and professional growth. In terms of recognition and rewards, Bright Horizons offers comprehensive benefits, which include health and wellbeing programs, financial security plans, generous time off policies, professional development opportunities, family support, and employee discounts. Notably, they have an attractive employee referral program that includes cash rewards and a chance to win a trip to New York for successful referral

KinderCare Education

KinderCare Education, another leading provider of early education and preschools, has a strong focus on employer branding. They showcase their values, mission, and culture through social media and their company website, attracting top talent who align with their company's goals.

Their onboarding process includes a comprehensive orientation, a mentor or buddy program, and ongoing training and development opportunities for new employees.

Who Is Responsible for Talent Acquisition and Onboarding?

In most early-year companies, the HR department is responsible for talent acquisition and onboarding. However, it's important for all staff members to be involved in the process, as they can provide valuable insights and recommendations for potential candidates.


Effective talent acquisition and onboarding strategies are crucial for attracting and retaining top talent in the early years sector. By developing a strong employer brand, utilising staffing solutions, and providing a comprehensive onboarding process, companies can ensure they have a strong team of educators who are committed to providing high-quality care and education to young children.

Discover a better way for reliable automated background checks