The Growing Recruitment and Hiring Challenges in Higher Education – And How To Support Recruitment Efforts

The recruitment and hiring landscape in higher education is experiencing a significant shift, as indicated by recent findings from The Chronicle. According to a survey conducted among college leaders, a majority of respondents reported increased struggles in hiring for staff and administrative positions during the first quarter of 2023 compared to the previous year. 

Additionally, there is a pressing need for professionals in various areas, such as information technology, dining services, building services, administrative assistants, student affairs, financial officers, and more. Explore the reasons behind these challenges and their potential implications for higher education institutions.


The Difficulty of Hiring in Higher Education 

The Chronicle‘s survey reveals that 62 percent of college leaders found it more difficult to hire staff and administrative personnel during the first three months of 2023 compared to the previous year. This statistic highlights a growing trend in the sector. Furthermore, 32 percent of respondents reported that the hiring difficulty remained similar to the previous year, while only 25 percent believed that hiring would become easier in 2023.


Reasons for Increased Difficulty
Evolving Job Market:

The changing dynamics of the job market have contributed to the increased struggles in recruitment and hiring. Factors such as shifting demographics, evolving job preferences, and the impact of technological advancements have made it challenging for higher education institutions to attract and retain qualified candidates.

Competition from Other Sectors:

Higher education institutions face stiff competition from other industries that offer attractive job opportunities and better compensation packages. This competition can make it difficult for colleges and universities to secure top talent, particularly in high-demand areas.

Serious Areas of Need

The survey conducted by The Chronicle identified six areas where higher education institutions face “serious” needs for qualified professionals. These areas are:

Information Technology:

The increasing reliance on technology in higher education necessitates skilled IT professionals who can support infrastructure, manage networks, and address cybersecurity concerns.

Dining Services:

Students and their families continue to prioritize health and wellness when it comes to their college decision – meaning that colleges and universities are continuing to emphasize its importance. Providing quality dining experiences is essential for student satisfaction and retention. Institutions require dedicated professionals to manage food services, ensure compliance with dietary regulations, and meet diverse student needs.

Building Services:

Maintaining and managing campus facilities is crucial for creating a conducive learning environment. Hiring skilled individuals in building services helps ensure the safety, functionality, and cleanliness of campus facilities.

Administrative Assistants and Operations Support:

Administrative assistants play a vital role in supporting the day-to-day operations of higher education institutions. They assist with paperwork, scheduling, and other administrative tasks, helping to streamline processes and support staff and faculty.

Student Affairs:

A robust student affairs department is essential for providing comprehensive support to students, addressing their academic and personal needs, and fostering a positive campus experience.

Financial Officers:

Effective financial management is crucial for the sustainability and success of higher education institutions. Financial officers oversee budgeting, financial planning, and compliance, ensuring financial stability and accountability.


Implications and Potential Solutions

The increasing struggles in recruitment and hiring have significant implications for higher education institutions. A shortage of qualified staff in crucial areas can impact operational efficiency, student satisfaction, and the overall quality of education provided. To address these challenges, institutions can consider adopting the following strategies:

Competitive Compensation:

Offering competitive salaries and benefits packages can help attract and retain top talent, even in the face of competition from other industries. Highlighting the ability to offer tuition assistance, continuing education credit, health and wellness perks, flexibility with work schedules, and more are strong benefits that many higher education institutions may be able to offer – and is a perk that may not be offered by other industries. 

Professional Development and Training:

Providing opportunities for professional growth and skill development can make higher education institutions more appealing to potential candidates.

Streamlined Recruitment Processes:

Simplifying and expediting recruitment processes can help institutions secure qualified candidates before they are enticed by other job offers.

Collaboration and Partnerships:

Establishing collaborations with industry professionals, alumni networks, and professional associations can facilitate the identification and recruitment of talented individuals.


In conclusion, the recruitment and hiring challenges confronting higher education institutions demand proactive measures to attract and retain qualified professionals. By recognizing the areas of serious need and implementing strategies to overcome these challenges, institutions can ensure the continued success and growth of higher education in an increasingly competitive landscape. An alternative approach is to partner with recruitment and talent subject matter experts, such as CMRG, to assist in the recruitment efforts for higher education positions. Collaborating with experienced professionals who specialize in recruiting for the higher education sector can provide valuable insights, access to a wider pool of qualified candidates, and streamlined processes to expedite the hiring of top talent.

By leveraging the expertise and resources of recruitment and talent subject matter experts like CMRG, higher education institutions can enhance their recruitment efforts, address staffing gaps, and ensure the acquisition of highly skilled professionals across various critical areas. By embracing innovative approaches and collaborating with recruitment experts, institutions can build a strong and diverse workforce that fosters excellence, innovation, and success in higher education.

Looking to secure the talent that will drive your institution’s success in the years to come. Reach out today! 

Caitie Cunningham

Caitie Cunningham is CMRG's VP of Marketing + Business Development. She has over 13 years of integrated marketing, sales and recruitment experience.