Sourcing Reddit To Find Unique Teaching Candidates

In the world of test prep, the hardest talent to find and keep are MCAT teachers. It’s our biggest book of business and therefore, the highest volume of classroom and tutoring assignments that we fill.  We need to hire a lot of MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) instructors but what makes this pursuit doubly hard is the industry’s turnover rate.  This means that we are sourcing constantly.

Often, our potential candidates are students who’ve just received a qualifying MCAT score (you need to be in the 90th percentile to get an interview) and we are simply 6-9 months between graduation and the choice to attend MED School.  Once MED school starts, we lose them. The amount of scholastic work in front of them simply makes teaching for us impossible.

Less than a decade ago, we were attracting candidates by posting flyers on campus, putting ads on Monster and also Craig’s List. Pretty passive, right? Those methods simply couldn’t keep up with our hiring numbers and we found ourselves in a terrible crunch. We have more assignments than we do teachers, and not all of our teachers can take on more than one class or tutoring student at a time.

In the last few months, I had begun to familiarize myself with modern sourcing techniques. Particularly, creating Boolean strings to source in areas beyond job boards.  I couldn’t rely on job boards to find candidates with these incredibly specific requirements, so instead I had to think like a pre-med student and figure out where I would go if I was preparing for the MCAT.

As many of you know, Reddit can be a touchy area to recruit from. Various Reddit communities can be sensitive to recruiting efforts and sometimes take offense to heavy-handed efforts that some recruiters use when reaching out to potential candidates.

However, due to recent challenges in finding qualified applicants, I decided to take another look. It started out as simply: I went to Reddit and simply typed in ‘MCAT’ into the search field and pressed enter. Boom – up popped a community under that name with over 71,000 members!

I have to say, I was stunned by what I found.  It’s not that I was surprised to find MCAT and pre-med communities on Reddit, what I didn’t expect was how members of the community made their test scores (A score in the 90th percentile is about a 515 on the test) and personal information available.  In the study buddy threads (there is a handy link in Reddit you can see below), the users are disclosing their locations and some are even putting their personal emails and target scores in the comments.

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To find potentially qualified applicants by score, I just went to the study buddy threads, hit CTRL+F and entered 515 (the 90th percentile) and/or 520 (a popular score on many of the threads) to search for all mentions of it on the page. I also searched specifically for comments that have locations by using the same function.

Here’s one thing I didn’t mention: we will also accept a practice test score on one of our classroom exams by a student as a qualifying standard. And guess what? I was able to find our own students on multiple threads who were asking questions to the group about their practice exams with our company. Several shared their scores. More than a few had a result that would qualify them to teach. The great thing is that we already have these people under our wing and presumably believing in our product. What a great starting point!

It got even better from there. As I perused Reddit further, I located a spreadsheet where students have shared their test scores on a Google Doc spreadsheet. At this point the riches have become embarrassing!

The infamous bank robber Willie Sutton was once asked why he robbed banks.  He replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” To bend the metaphor to my point, these candidates are the money and Reddit is where they are at.

David currently works at Kaplan Test Prep where his responsibilities include hiring, supporting, assigning, and evaluating teachers across the states of Tennessee and Kentucky.  He is also an experienced staff writer and editor.  

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