Not Fully Staffed? 6 Tips to Help You Cope

June 17, 2023
Kelly C. Bawden, MS, CCC-SLP
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Summer break is supposed to be full of BBQs and potato chips, pool parties and vacations, a little extra leisure time, and a little slower pace of life. Your department not being fully staffed for the coming year, though, can seriously put a damper on the good times. No one wants that, right? You might not be able to find your missing staff right away, but read on for six things you can do to keep your hiring efforts and your summer vibes strong over the next few months.

1. Be kind to yourself

Sure, you shoulda/coulda/woulda gone to one more job fair, placed the job on one more site, networked at one more event. But you didn't. And that's ok. Be honest with yourself about what didn't go well, but don't beat yourself up. Spend that time and energy moving forward and making a better plan for next year.

2. Give yourself some time off

As Dr. Leo Marvin once told Bob, "Take a vacation from your problems." Take a day, a weekend, a week (!) off from working on and thinking about hiring, and come back to it with a calmer, more refreshed mind.

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3. Get things organized

Just because you don't have staff in place doesn't mean that preparation for next year needs to screech to a grinding halt. On the contrary, there is a ton you can do to make sure that everything is ready to go when you do make the perfect hire. If you're looking for an SLP, put together a folder (virtual or paper) that has everything they'll need to get started. It might include a caseload list, a list of building/district staff and phone numbers, a list of IEPs and evals due in the first month of school, and anything else you can think of that will help them get off to a strong start. Although it may not be groundbreaking information, getting organized can contribute to your overall well-being and increased happiness! Explore the following list of unexpected (or perhaps expected) advantages.

4. Don't give up

Pencil out an action plan. Make sure you're specific in your tasks. DO write things like "reach out to University and ask if any new grads are still without a job," or "put the job on" DON'T write things like "ask around about SLPs." ProTip: If your action plan includes talking to contracting agencies, do that sooner rather than later. Know your options before you're desperate.

5. Prepare for the worst

Despite your best efforts, the first day of school might come without your missing staff. What are you going to do then? Because you've already gotten things organized (#3, above), you can look at what's going to be most pressing those first few weeks of school, and you can figure out how to make those things happen.

6. Seek support

Reach out to other administrators for advice, help, or simply for a little commiseration and moral support. You are not the first person to ever be in your situation, and there is much to be gained from chatting with others who have been there. They might have ideas that you haven't thought of, resources for you to investigate, or maybe just have an empathetic ear. Regardless, you'll feel better just knowing you're not alone.

This post was originally published June 5, 2019 and most recently updated June 16, 2023.