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The Benefits of Using an Applicant Tracking System in Education


In March 2020, the Education Policy Institute laid bare the ongoing challenges in the teaching labour market. These challenges include: 

  • “A 7% decrease in the number of high school teachers, despite consistent pupil numbers since 2007.”
  • “One in five new teachers moving to a new job at a different school after two years. Increasing to four in 10 after five years.”
  • “Staff attrition is higher in core subjects, with up to half of English, maths and modern foreign languages teachers leaving the professional completely after five years.”
  • “Higher numbers of teachers across all subjects leaving the profession for better-paid careers in other fields.”

Couple this with an anticipated 10% increase in high school pupil numbers between 2019 and 2023. The fact is that pupil numbers are rising. Whilst teacher numbers are declining.

Throw into the mix that recruitment in education isn’t a quick and easy process. It’s traditionally labour intensive and drawn-out on both sides, for employers, and for candidates, too.

So, bearing in mind the challenges highlighted by the EPI, the question is - Can you afford for candidates to become disengaged due to a recruitment process that’s more like an endurance test?

A stuttering educational recruitment process is almost impossible to overcome when you’re working within the confines of email and paper manually. But it doesn’t have to be sluggish and complex.

The processes and procedures involved in recruitment in education have evolved significantly over the years. So should your systems.

This article looks at how schools, colleges, and universities are increasingly realising using an Applicant Tracking System in education can resolve their sector-specific recruitment challenges. Those that transition from a manual system to an Applicant Tracking System experience an instant streamlining of processes.

The benefits that make a big difference to education recruitment are less work across all levels and team members involved. Resulting in less candidate disengagement during the process. A highly desirable outcome given the predicted ongoing shortage of quality candidates.


What recruitment challenges can using an Applicant Tracking System in Education solve?

These challenges often don’t exist (or not to the same imperative degree) in the corporate sphere. Yet many businesses with a simpler recruitment process haven’t been manual for years. A comparison that only hints at the seismic improvement using an Applicant Tracking System in education will make -   

  • Digitalisation of the recruitment process – How significantly can your recruitment process be improved by transitioning from email and paper-based working to an Applicant Tracking System?
  • Safety and inclusivity – Can digitalisation really align all the safety and inclusivity requisites that are at the core of educational recruitment?
  • Control, visibility, consistency - How does an Applicant Tracking System pull together educational compliance across every touchpoint of the recruitment process? And also incorporate the internal alignment needed for all relevant stakeholders to be in the right loop at the right time? 

Let’s briefly walk through the educational recruitment process to demonstrate how using an integrated Applicant Tracking System in education hits the sweet spots for employers and candidates alike.


Requisition Management and Job Adverts

It’s easier to make requests to recruit, authorise roles and post job ads when you use an Applicant Tracking System in education. So, you’ll get off to a flying start quicker, achieving more in less time due to –

  • Configurable requisition form feeding into the ad process.
  • Structured user permissions allow stakeholders access to the Applicant Tracking System at the relevant time/s during the recruitment process. You have complete control over who accesses the Applicant Tracking System across Trust central team members, cluster HR team members, and in-house school team members. Also, when using an Applicant Tracking System in education you can customise access rights for each user's permission.   
  • Templated job ad creation that promotes the school, college, university, and Trust. Templated job ads are customisable per role for optimum brand consistency.
  • Careers site – A great careers site is a real boost for your employer branding. You can include candidate testimonials, interview guides, and employee stories to promote the best possible view of your brand in eyes of your candidates.

Your careers site builds a talent pool. Therefore, it provides you with the opportunity to automatically identify any potentially great candidate matches who’re already on your radar. If you have multiple sites, this matching information isn’t restricted to the establishment that candidates initially applied to work at. It’s available across the entire Trust.

Job ad creation and posting to all selected job boards and social media channels at a click. You can also add internal listings to school intranets at the same time.


Candidate Applications

You already know the educational recruitment process can be notoriously long-winded. Traditional manual scanning and uploading of documents are known to deter applicants from applying for teaching vacancies. Because it’s time-consuming and laborious for them to apply.

The potential threat of a flat process losing those candidates along the way who successfully submit their applications is soul-destroying. But that’s one less thing to worry about when your system is fit for purpose.

All necessary candidate information is transmitted seamlessly when you use an Applicant Tracking System in education, minus the additional manual effort, including their:

  • Mandatory application form.
  • Cover letter or supporting statement.
  • Reference uploading.
  • Convictions.
  • Disability considerations.

This provides a simpler improved candidate application experience.

The benefits of a more streamlined application process positively impact the recruitment team, too. Providing you with the efficiency, speed, and quality of service a manual system isn’t capable of.


Screening, Shortlisting, and Interviewing

Consistency and fairness are at the heart of recruitment in education. The processes around this can make it doubly difficult to move candidates through the process quickly when you’re trying to juggle multiple strands of information together in a compliant manner.

An Applicant Tracking System looks after all aspects of screening and shortlisting for you. Providing instant access for all relevant stakeholders to see what’s happening across all stages per role -  

  • Digitised reference checking – Early-stage pre-interview reference checking is a critical step for recruitment in education. But it can cause delays from the onset when you’re keen to get the momentum going. Using an Applicant Tracking System in education makes short work of this by generating an email reference request form for you to send to referees. This doesn’t require the additional effort on their part of having to add attachments. Their feedback is captured directly into your Applicant Tracking System. The removal of obstacles can cause delays to referee response times. And the eradication of the need to manually pull references together from different places. 
  • Keyword screening – By using an Applicant Tracking System in education you can identify desirable keywords and phrases in CVs and also supporting statements. You can customise your keywords and phrases per role for fast and accurate initial screening every time. 
  • Safeguarding Alerts – Early pre-interview digital referencing is a key safeguarding feature that isn’t new to recruitment in education. However, your Applicant Tracking System will raise additional alerts to things that might require your attention, such as previous convictions and unexplained career gaps. 
  • Scoring Matrix – Before panel shortlisting gets underway you can define a scoring matrix, e.g. 0-5 per section. Most schools use paper systems for individual panel members to score candidate applications. This can be difficult to manage and collate efficiently on a manual basis. In addition, GDPR compliancy is jeopardised by the distribution of so much paper amongst so many people. Using an Applicant Tracking System in education removes both of these issues. 
  • Confidential panel shortlistingBlind shortlisting is easily aligned and refined by using an Applicant Tracking System in education. You can invite panel members to come into the system to cast their scores on restricted access CVs. All criteria that you’ve not earmarked as justifiable is redacted from view. You can reduce any potential for unconscious bias even further, by requesting notes from the panel members, to briefly explain why they scored applications in the way they did.
  • Score collation – The scores from all panel members feed directly back to the relevant recruitment personnel for collation and shortlisting. All via your Applicant Tracking System. Allowing you to shortlist the best teaching talent more quickly, fairly, and confidentially. 
  • Application rejection – Every candidate communication is automated via your Applicant Tracking System. Including application rejection emails. This saves your time. It also helps ‘save face’. Because radio silence doesn’t sit well with candidates whose applications are never acknowledged by employers. 
  • Event booking tools – Shortlisted candidates invited for an interview or teaching assessment days can self-book the most convenient date and time for them. And all dates and times are automatically added to the diaries of interviewees. Automation of this part of the process completely removes the resources traditionally needed to co-ordinates diaries on both sides of the employer and candidate fence.
  • Event confirmations and reminders – Candidate confirmations and reminders for assessment days and interviews can be scheduled into your Applicant Tracking System and automatically issued. By text, email, or both if you want to. This sort of modern touch looks professional and streamlined.


Appointing and Onboarding

You’ve hopefully gained an eye-opening insight into how using an Applicant Tracking System in education does more than enhance the recruitment process. But the great news doesn’t stop once you’ve selected a successful candidate.

The same automated streamlining experienced throughout the recruitment process extends through the appointment of successful candidates. And their subsequent onboarding. It includes -

  • Provisional job offers.
  • Pre-employment checks.
  • New starter info, e.g. bank details.
  • Contracts of employment.


Recruitment in education is a complex process by necessity. What makes using an integrated Applicant Tracking System in education so significant is customisation.

The best parts of what works in the corporate sector are redefined to meet the specific needs of the educational sector. The result is the reinvention of what a seamless educational recruitment process should look like, for both employers and candidates alike.

  • Streamlined administration.
  • Reduced burden on central and school teams.
  • Improved candidate experience that gives the best possible impression of your brand – a matter it’s naïve to underestimate, bearing in mind the EPI stats at the beginning of this article.

At Vacancy Filler, we’re focused on recruitment in education. Across primary schools, middle schools, high schools, academies, colleges, universities, and other further education establishments. We understand the different organisational structures in the education system. And the need for a very tailored approach to your Applicant Tracking System needs.

Feel free to request a tailored software demo. Or simply ask any questions you have about what it’s like to use Vacancy Filler.

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