Talk Data to Me: Did the Pandemic End Hiring Season?
Following the March 2020 pandemic emergency declaration, two Talk Data to Me posts were published that discussed the pandemic’s immediate impacts on K-12 recruiting and hiring. They outlined how the volume of job postings and the number of districts actively seeking applicants both fell dramatically. In a 2020 K12JobSpot survey measuring the impact of COVID-19 on job seekers, 85% of participants responded that their job search had been affected by COVID-19. Hiring delays, hiring freezes, physical distancing restrictions, and general uncertainty about the future stalled the K-12 job market. Our analyses at the time were reactionary and were performed with the hope that the effects of the pandemic would be short-term.
Now that we are past the two-year anniversary of the emergency declaration, we revisited some of our recruiting and hiring metrics. While the 2020 analyses were completed with hopeful optimism that the pandemic would soon be ending, what we are seeing now may indicate a more lasting and drastic effect of the pandemic on the K-12 job market.
Did the Pandemic End “Hiring Season”?
Each year, a hiring season in K-12 education occurs roughly between March and September. Districts commonly ask current employees to indicate their intentions for the next school year in early spring. Teacher preparatory candidates typically graduate in May and are eager to begin working in a classroom of their own in the fall. Using data from the Frontline Research & Learning Institute, you can see the aggregate number of open job postings every month, and hiring season is clearly reflected in the chart below which details the monthly sum of open job postings per district in 2018 and 2019.
Viewing the same metric for 2020 alone, it appears that the immediate impacts of the pandemic did not have much effect on this hiring trend. The general shape of the curve seems to match that of previous years, aside from a slight positive bump in the fall.
However, overlaying the 2020 data with the 2018 and 2019 data tells a different story.
The trend for 2020 is much flatter. The traditional “hiring season” is almost non-existent. There were far fewer open positions during hiring season in 2020 than what was seen in 2018 and 2019. Conversely, there were more open positions in the “off-season” months.
This buck in the trend is not unique to 2020 — in fact, it’s even more dramatic in 2021. The less obvious hiring season in 2020 gave way to a complete lack of a hiring season in 2021.
What’s Going On?
We know that the pandemic led to hiring delays and hiring freezes, so school districts have been posting fewer jobs than they typically would have. It’s also intuitive to think that because of a lack of applicants due to the widely reported teacher shortage, jobs may be taking longer to fill and jobs that were posted during hiring season remain open into the off season.
If this is the case, school districts may have no choice but to extend their hiring season by starting earlier and expecting it to last longer. Further, because of an unusually high number of people leaving their jobs — whether you call it the “Great Resignation” or something else — districts may have to backfill positions more rapidly and at more unpredictable times than previous years. This, coupled with a precarious labor market and lingering unknowns about the pandemic, could certainly be extending the typically predictable K-12 hiring season.
What You Can Do About It
In a time when attracting quality candidates to your organization is more important than ever, hiring managers should focus on aspects of the recruiting and hiring process that job seekers value the most. Based on job seeker feedback through Frontline’s K12JobSpot and Applicant Tracking solutions, over 90% of job seekers find the following outcomes important when searching for a job:
When posting a job, keep in mind job seekers want to:
Work in a collaborative and supportive environment
Work in a school with leadership they respect
Find jobs posted directly by districts and schools instead of third-party recruitment companies
When reviewing applications, keep in mind job seekers want to:
Know their references are treated respectfully
Know the status of the job they applied to
Hear back from employers in a timely manner
Be informed of next steps
When interviewing job seekers, keep in mind job seekers want to:
Get a feel for the working conditions
Receive the salary they are looking for
When presenting a job offer, keep in mind job seekers want to:
Receive onboarding instructions with their job offers
Kevin is a Product Manager of Human Capital Analytics for Frontline Education. He is a former high school mathematics teacher and holds a Master's Degree in Educational Curriculum and Instruction, a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology, and is working on a dissertation toward a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.