As a former member of the Human Capital Team at D.C. Public Schools, and now Founder of Nimble, I’ve seen the procurement process in action across dozens of districts and charter school networks. I know from experience that finding new recruitment and hiring tools can feel like a chore that isn’t worth the time. However, a stronger applicant tracking system can result in increased staff retention and significant — as in 40-50% — time savings for your team. Unfortunately, most districts are missing out on this value because of mistakes made in the procurement process. In this piece, I share the most common mistake districts make in their procurement processes and 10 essential features of any K-12 applicant tracking system.
The typical district process for vetting hiring software often looks something like this:
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this process, but its effectiveness rests heavily on the quality and rigor of the requirements established in step one. Unfortunately, most districts sink much more time into steps 2 through 4. They may even use an old requirements list as the basis of their process. This is a huge mistake.
Earlier this year, Nimble conducted a hiring study with four large districts across the country. We found in each district that the hiring teams had little time to spend on strategic recruitment and cultivation of candidates. Instead they spent an average of 53% of their time on manual data entry, tracking reports in google sheets, and facilitating communication with principals. These are areas of substantial time loss that can and should be reduced with improved hiring software.
Pooled Postings: Historically, districts have had to choose between two imperfect job posting realities: post pooled jobs, but track vacancies and coordinate principal hiring decisions outside the system OR post individual jobs on the job board, causing candidates to have to filter through dozens or hundreds of jobs to find those that are the right fit. Key system requirements in this area should include:
Data Dashboards: Most K-12 hiring systems don’t have any reporting capabilities or data dashboards to speak of, or their dashboards aren’t centered around the cyclical K-12 hiring process and therefore go unused. Districts are left exporting data and spending hours each week building their own reports in Excel (or worse, entering data into google docs throughout the hiring process to help them crunch the numbers later). Key in-system data dashboards should show you:
Principal Engagement: In most districts, principals act as hiring managers, and even when they don’t, they’re pivotal to the screening and hiring process. However, most school leaders aren’t sitting at a desk all day, so logging into and navigating an applicant tracking system doesn’t come easily. However, when principals are disengaged with hiring tools, they often work around the system, missing out on top talent coming through the centralized recruitment pipeline. Key features to improve school leader engagement include: