5 tips for creating an applicant-friendly hiring experience

1. The best time for recruiting is year-round

First things first: It’s necessary for schools to be on the lookout for possible candidates during all seasons, not just the traditional school hiring season. Educator recruiting can be difficult and overwhelming, so making it an ongoing process will alleviate many of the challenges that arise during those pressure-packed peaks, as will adopting a comprehensive Web-based applicant tracking system. With an ATS, the entirety of each candidate’s application packet — including resumes, letters of reference, transcripts, and assessment results—can be securely kept, accessed, and managed without the organizational jumble of paper clips, folders, and file cabinets. Plus, candidates can remain engaged in the process with ATS features such as automated status notifications and electronic interview scheduling. That’s right, an ATS means fewer check-in phone calls and less inbox-filling from applicants wanting to know where the process stands.

2. Write great job posts

A simple but often overlooked way to recruit the best teachers is to update job descriptions. Savvy candidates will skip job descriptions that look hastily put together or are obviously outdated. The composition of a job post can provide an applicant with insight about the administrators who put it together. Poorly written or vague postings send a signal that school administration is unorganized or harried — signs that the district or institution might not be an ideal workplace. Maintaining up-to-date templates of basic job descriptions for all positions ensure the basics are covered while providing a sound foundation on which to add the specific details that will make the opening appealing.

3. Don’t lose the paper chase…

Paper-based recruitment practices not only stand in the way of great applicants reaching districts, but they also discourage some to even apply. The commitment and logistics required to complete an application that could otherwise be entirely electronic is incongruent with the technological experience and expectations of today’s leading educators. A non-digital application process is off-putting and a competitive disadvantage for institutions, especially for in-demand or high-need areas such as STEM.

4. …And that means an emphasis timeliness

Often, a forward-moving application process is one of the greatest ways to find the best candidates. According to Education Resource Strategies, a non-profit dedicated to helping schools manage their resources more efficiently, timing recruitment just right is an important consideration in hiring. Schools need to start the hiring process early because the best candidates — veterans and recent graduates alike — are hired quickly. Research cited by ERS shows, for example, that urban districts unable to initiate the hiring process until after May 1 lose applicants to neighboring or nearby districts, leaving these schools scrambling to fill open positions. In an increasingly competitive hiring landscape, particularly in high-need systems and regions facing teacher shortages, timing truly is everything. An applicant tracking system can ensure the entire application process is efficient, making it easier for districts and institutions to start the hiring process earlier and to be engaged in recruiting year round.


Simply improving the recruiting and hiring process using technology can also have a big impact. For instance, in the interest of finding the best teachers possible, school districts need to cast a wide net. Using an automated platform, school districts can more easily post to national job boards and reach more qualified candidates. In addition, automation makes the process go more quickly, which is important when districts have a hard deadlines for teacher start dates. With districts competing for the same candidates, they need to start earlier to find the best teachers. And there’s no need for often understaffed central office staff or HR departments to fear keeping up with the demands of a larger applicant pool; the right applicant tracking system will allow administrators to quickly identify the best teachers and move them into the interview process.

5. Maintain the human touch

While using an applicant tracking system may seem highly automated, an ATS enhances the human interaction within the recruitment process by supporting collaboration between administrators included in hiring decisions. When administrators and principals review applications individually using paper, it can be difficult to share insight. An applicant tracking platform allows committee members to have more direct visibility into how raters have graded applicant materials.

It’s no surprise educators are much more likely to seek, accept, and remain in a job when they are truly excited about the working at the school, no matter where it is. If school leaders can effectively and efficiently manage the hiring process, it bodes well for the ways in which they will support the rest of a teacher’s experience for the next school year and beyond.

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