Tips to Grow Your Substitute Pool

February 20, 2022 by Sara McGrath

Tips to Grow Your Substitute Pool

Small changes can have a big effect on fill rates.

At Tyler Technologies, we work with the best educators, recruiters, and K-12 staffing agencies in the industry and have seen firsthand how they are addressing the substitute shortage. Leveraging the experiences of our partners, we have collected successful strategies that can help grow your substitute pool and increase fill rates.

The right terminology is crucial.

  • The terms “Substitute” or “Substitute Teacher” have a strong association with certified educators only and can quickly turn off other qualified applicants.
  • The alternate term “Flexible Hour Position” appeals to all individuals who are looking for part-time work with flexible schedules. These positions could include teacher aides, nutritionists, custodians, bus drivers and aides, and more.
  • The millennial and Gen Z generations have become increasingly interested in part-time work. More flexible terminology may open you up to that applicant pool for the first time.

Applicants for full-time positions are great substitute candidates.

  • When a full-time position opens, multiple applicants commonly apply but only one of them gets the job. What about those not selected? These individuals are perfect flexible hour position candidates who may be interested in part-time employment and the opportunity to gain exposure to the work environment.
  • Timely emails encouraging applicants to join the substitute list can produce great results. Send one email when the application is submitted and another upon denial of the position (if applicable).
  • If applicant management software is used by your district, automatic emails can be set up to go out at these times.

Student teachers and university students are eager to work.

Tyler’s Absence & Substitute team is here to help. If you have questions about best practices your district could be following or are ready to learn more about our industry-leading technology, contact us at

  • Many school districts take advantage of state-run programs that provide student teachers with emergency/restricted teaching licenses. If your state offers this type of support, encourage student teachers to enroll in these programs to increase your substitute pool.
  • Non-education majors at local colleges who are looking for flexible work are also great candidates.

Additional Ways to Get the Word Out

  • Parents want to ensure their children get the best education. Empower them to help your district cast a wider net for applicants by appealing to their friends, family, and community.
  • School events such as those held for sports, theater, band, and dance may offer advertising space to support the department. Try fitting information about job openings in this highly visible format.
  • Community events such as runs, bazaars, and cook-offs are also great opportunities to promote job openings.
  • Local companies love to show their school pride. Putting a “Now Hiring” sign on a cork board can help get the word out. Grocery stores and coffee shops in particular have great foot traffic and are likely frequented by area locals.
  • Student-run programs and courses such as a school broadcasting and graphic design courses can help get the word out through advertising campaigns.
  • Job fairs are a great way to meet people that may be interested in flexible hour positions, and who may not know that they’re eligible to obtain emergency teaching certifications.

Leverage the right technology

  • Software to manage employee time-off requests and to alert your substitute pool to openings can make all the difference in quickly securing qualified substitutes as need arises.
  • Offering multiple ways to be notified can help meet your substitutes where and when they are most likely to engage. Beyond email and calling, options such as texts or mobile app notifications can cut through the noise quickly to get a faster response.
  • Match substitutes to the right opportunities by controlling who receives urgent alerts. The right technology can allow filtering for variables including the job’s location, job classification, schedule, and much more.

Related Content