According to economists, the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ of 2023 is officially over. And yet, the jobs market has never been more volatile.

You’ll know as well as we do that recruiting talent in the education sector has always been incredibly competitive. But with stats like a 5% decrease in the number of new entrants to initial teacher training and 9% of the state teaching workforce resigning before retirement, the applicant pool for your next teaching vacancy could be feeling increasingly slim.

So, what can you do to attract candidates and safeguard recruitment in your school?

How to centralise school recruitment

As schools and trusts navigate this candidate driven market, giving applicants the best impression from the very first interaction must become a crucial part of the recruitment strategy. With more employers to choose from, organisations need to be providing that positive applicant experience from the moment potential applicants first view your advert.

Schools and trusts with an applicant tracking system (ATS) in place that centralises all candidate-facing recruitment activities, from initial applications to job offers, are more likely to weather the recruitment storm better than those without.

What should be included in a school job advert?

It can be easy to forget that your candidates are assessing you just as much as you’re assessing them. This is your reminder to remember! The job advert might be the first time a potential candidate has come across your school, trust, or academy. And as they say, there’s only once chance to make a first impression.

To get candidates engaging with your vacancy from the get-go, information on job adverts needs to be:

  1. Relevant – much like a CV, its content needs to be tailored to the role!
  2. Appropriately detailed, with…
  3. …attention to detail! Take time to proofread adverts and ensure they’re grammatically correct. You’d be surprised by the number of potential applicants put off by the wrong use of there/they’re/their!
  4. In-keeping with your organisation’s branding – make use of your logo!
  5. Proud – adverts are your opportunity to reinforce the values that make your school or MAT a desirable organisation to be a part of.

How to make job applications user-centric

Once an impressed applicant hits ‘apply’, their next point of contact is the job application itself. Now, we can all recognise that fully completing, checking, and submitting a job application can feel like a job in itself – they take a fair amount time! So, there’s nothing more frustrating for your applicant than multiple attempts to upload a supporting document, or finding that half the answers they’ve written to the mandatory questions have suddenly disappeared.

To reduce the likelihood of these problems, you need an application system that’s got user-ease at its core. Fields requiring information need to be clear – there should be the chance to save progress at significant stages, and the entire application needs to be easy to navigate. Or you could risk losing your applicant before they’ve even applied!

The benefits of an applicant tracking system

As soon as an application for an open vacancy lands on your desk, you’ve got your next chance to impress your applicant. Acknowledging applicants throughout every stage of the recruitment process helps to build a relationship, regardless of whether or not they’re likely to be the one who gets the offer.

Bear in mind that even if the current vacancy isn’t for them, there might be another vacancy coming up in a few months that they’d be more suited to. And, they’re more likely to want to repeat the entire application process again if their first experience was a positive one!

The more open the dialogue between yourself and your applicant, the smoother the process – for both of you! An ATS tracks the entire operation, helping it to stay on target. From sending email notifications to candidates reminding them to upload outstanding criteria, like Right to Work documents, or automating alerts that prompt you to follow up any gaps in candidate information, applicant tracking systems ensure communications are dealt with in an orderly and timely manner.

What’s more, where applicants have applied for positions at multiple organisations, you’re in competition to secure the candidate first. But, if that other school is quicker at responding to the applicant’s queries or faster on the uptake of booking an interview (and subsequently offering the position) you can quickly find yourself back at square one. Not to mention the time you’ve invested in reviewing that candidate’s application may now feel lost!

Using an applicant tracking system to create recruitment opportunities

Operationally, an applicant tracking system gives you an overview of everything-applicant, from the number and status of applications to any outstanding tasks. Emotionally, an ATS plays a pivotal part in building bonds with candidates, a key piece of today’s recruitment puzzle.

Now’s the time review and update your recruitment strategies to ensure they reflect the candidate-driven market we find ourselves in. And with this, real, genuine weight needs to be given to establishing and maintaining a positive applicant experience to attract and retain staff in your school.

Learn more about what an applicant tracking system could offer to your recruitment activities by seeing ours in action!