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Survey Results: The Teacher Shortage and Recruiting with Data

Recruiting & Hiring

In a recent survey, we found that two-thirds of all districts have a teacher shortage. That’s a lot of open positions gathering dust while districts stress over finding applicants. And even though that’s a significant shortage of teachers, I wasn’t exactly surprised. What did surprise me is that only 22% of all districts have data on which recruiting methods work and which don’t.

The vast majority of districts don’t have any data driving their recruiting strategies.

Let that sink in for a second. When it comes to recruiting — the first step to hiring the best person to teach our future leaders — most districts are essentially flying blind. Making recruiting decisions without any solid data has worked for schools so far, but if there’s a way to improve your process, especially facing a shortage of qualified applicants, why wouldn’t you at least try? After all, the modern world is all about using data, data and more data to drive decisions and shape strategies. Perhaps it’s time for districts to climb aboard the information train.

You’re already collecting information on your candidates through their resumes and applications; why not turn it into something usable? You can directly apply knowledge from this data to planning your recruiting strategy for the upcoming year — valuable information about which job fairs or other recruiting methods are attracting the most applicants, which colleges are producing the best applicants for your districts and, ultimately, where you should be concentrating your recruiting efforts.

Start with collecting the data

Making data-driven decisions first requires collecting the data. It’s certainly possible to try to track the outcomes of your recruiting efforts manually, but that is incredibly difficult and time-consuming. Instead, using an electronic applicant tracking system makes it much easier to examine where your applicants are coming from, how experienced they are, and which recruiting methods are netting you the most (or most qualified) applicants.

On the other hand, you might realize that your district is barking up the wrong tree and spending time and money on a recruiting method that just isn’t getting traction. With this information, you know where to redirect your time and energy during the next recruiting season.

Data in action: Deerfield Public School District 109

Executive Director of Human Resources Dale Fisher uses data from Frontline Recruiting & Hiring (formerly AppliTrack Recruiting and AppliTrack Fit) in Deerfield Public School 109’s recruiting and hiring process to ensure that every position is filled with a great candidate. He says that the district struggles with finding candidates for unique, specialized positions, particularly school nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists. So, he looked at his district’s recruiting methods, which relied heavily on posting jobs on K12JobSpot (their “#1 tool for finding applicants”) and the Illinois Job Bank.

These methods are great for recruiting general education applicants — his district receives hundreds of applications for elementary ed positions — but he realized that Deerfield still had a shortage of school nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists. These are “candidates who aren’t educators by nature,” which means that they probably are not actively looking for jobs in education. And yet, they’re not opposed to working for a district — it’s just that they take a different path when looking for a job than many district recruiters.

So, Deerfield Public Schools broadened their strategy to find people with the unique skills needed for these hard-to-fill positions. Now, he finds these specialized candidates by posting on, where there is a broader pool of applicants, and by reaching out to professional networks, such as the Illinois Association of School Nurses. And because every candidate applies through Frontline Recruiting & Hiring, he’s able to track where qualified applicants are coming from, their experience level and their educational background. Having all of the data within one system (and not on paper) helps Deerfield Public Schools identify which opportunities to expand on, and which recruiting efforts aren’t working well for particular positions.

What could you learn from data?

Districts struggling with shortages, whether general or specific, need to know what recruiting methods to focus on to fill positions and stop spending time and money on channels that don’t work for their specific district. We are in the Age of Information — and that means we don’t need to develop recruiting strategies in the dark.

Get the full report on the teacher shortage

Over 500 districts shared their insights on the teacher shortage and recruiting strategies. Get the report.



Annie GrunwellAnnie Grunwell

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 teacher shortage and best practices in human capital management.