Recruiting & Hiring

4 Mistakes That Could Be Costing You Great Candidates

5 min. read

Everyone has a story about the one that got away. And when you have hundreds of applications to pore over, there’s bound to be an all-star applicant you accidentally overlook. It happens to all of us at least once. But missing out on amazing candidates can mean that students lose out on the teacher of a lifetime.

Don’t let your district’s next success story slip through the cracks. Let’s take a look at four common reasons why districts lose out on great candidates. 

#1: Hiring late in the year

Remember being in gym class when it was time to pick players for each team? The most skilled athletes were always snapped up right away — everyone wanted the star players on their team. The hiring process is no different. By the time June rolls around, the best candidates have already received (and possibly accepted) job offers from districts with aggressive hiring timelines.

A smaller applicant pool isn’t the only problem with late hiring, though. Data from our recruiting and hiring solution shows that spring applicants score much higher on prescreening assessments. Applicant scores peak in April, and begin a startling decline in June. So as the year goes on, average candidate quality goes down — meaning that districts hiring during the summer have a smaller pool of less-qualified applicants to choose from.

So how do you solve this? It’s not enough to just start recruiting in spring; you need to hire in the spring, too. A significant number of applicants withdraw in May, and 40% leave by the end of June. You will want to move your entire hiring timeline up, and make sure that you can quickly move great candidates through the process.

To make this happen, you will need to identify upcoming retirements and resignations between January and March. Explain to your teachers that early notice is crucial to hiring a qualified replacement, and ask them to fill out a Declaration of Intent form to indicate their plans for the coming year. You’ll also need to identify and remove any roadblocks that may hold up the hiring process. The Department of Education recommends setting a goal of making a hiring decision within ten days of posting the vacancy. Sound like a stretch? Even if ten days aren’t realistic for your district, it’s good to have a goal that can drive your hiring process forward quickly.

#2: Can’t find the proverbial needle in the haystack

For some positions, you might receive two hundred applications or more. Having an extensive applicant pool is a good thing, but it can be really difficult to pinpoint the best candidate in a flood of resumes. After all, it’s just not possible to equally consider all of them, especially if you’re still using a paper-based process. And there’s only so much time in the day to conduct interviews.

Don’t risk overlooking the perfect candidate because their resume only skims the surface of their characteristics. A prescreening tool or structured selection protocol can highlight top candidates so you know who to focus on. And at the end of the day, you can be confident that the best candidate didn’t slip through the cracks. 

#3: Potential opportunities in your recruiting strategy

You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s possible that you’re missing out on an untapped applicant source, or not reaching a particular demographic of job-seekers. But if you don’t have data about your recruiting strategies, it’s hard to know what opportunities you could be overlooking. Are you spending too much time putting advertisements in local newspapers, when your best candidates come from online job boards?

Fix this mistake by getting in touch with your district’s data. Chances are, you’re already collecting information on your candidates through their resumes and applications. So why not turn it into something usable by putting it front and center when planning your recruiting strategy for the upcoming year?

Once you have a reliable way of reporting on applicant data, you’ll know which job fairs, colleges or other recruiting channels are attracting the best applicants. Then, you can take that information and use it to guide your strategy so you can spend your time and energy on the most effective recruiting methods.

#4: Difficult applications and slow hiring processes

The early bird gets the worm, and the quickest district gets the candidate. If your application or hiring process is too complex or onerous, applicants might give up before they even get started — or they’ll just be grabbed by a district with a more streamlined process. And if a candidate waits months without hearing from you, they’re bound to look elsewhere for a job, or accept another offer.

Take yourself through your district’s application process and think about it like this: if you were looking for a new job, would you find this application worth your valuable time? Or would you take your amazing skills elsewhere?

“There were pains on the applicants’ standpoint, where by the time they made it through filling out our paper application, our essay questions, gathering all their materials for a completed application, they were already snatched up by another district who had a quicker process.”
– Becky Dorman, Sioux Falls School District 49-5

Obviously, you don’t want to sacrifice your selection process or cut corners to save time. The good news is; you don’t need to. Much of the hiring process is taken up by tedious work that can be done by technology instead, saving you valuable hours or even days. The right online system will speed up the entire process from the moment you start recruiting applicants. Look for technology that can weed out unqualified applicants, automate your workflows, handle interview scheduling and streamline the onboarding process.

And for job-seekers, an applicant tracking system removes barriers to working in your district. They’ll appreciate being able to easily apply for positions online.



Annie Grunwell

Annie Buttner

Annie is a writer and part of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. She's passionate about learning, exploring data and sharing knowledge. Her specialties include substitute management, the K-12 staffing shortage, and best practices in human capital management.

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