Case Studies

Auburn–Washburn USD 437

Auburn–Washburn USD 437 is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none.

1. What changes have you made to your candidate experience recently? What improvements are you most proud of? How do you know that your changes are making a difference?

We have recently changed our approach to candidate communication with our chatbot, which collects contact information from candidates, when provided, when they visit our Careers page. We have shifted to a more “high touch” personal approach to immediately reach out to candidates once they have provided their information. We talk to them about interests, and help connect them to the right opportunity within our organization. We also provide them with direct contact information should they have any questions or experience any concerns during their candidate journey.

This past year, we’re most proud of our implementation of an education campus ambassador for new teacher recruitment at one of our core universities. This has provided us with an insider approach to college recruiting. The ambassador has been able to engage, communicate and create emotional connections with prospective college candidates by creating, marketing and facilitating experiential events on campus. Overall, this helps positively impact our candidate experience at that campus. For example, by starting the experience sooner rather than students waiting until later in their career search at other campus recruiting events and activities.

One metric that indicates these changes are making a difference is a candidate’s average processing time in the pipeline. For the same time period year to year, from 2020 to 2021, our average processing time decreased by four days (19%). This means our candidates are receiving communication, information and moving through the pipeline in a timelier manner. In a labor market shortage, it is imperative that we process candidates more quickly and efficiently, as they have many career options and we don’t want to lose them to another opportunity because we took too long.

2. How did you decide to make changes to how candidates were being treated? What data or evidence prompted you to make a change?

We initially decided to make changes based on a tight labor market. We wanted to be as competitive as possible in our search for talent. We know that a candidate’s experience will directly impact how they view us both as an employer and as a school district. We initially had our “aha moment” at the 2016 Recruiting Trends Conference, hearing several sessions about candidate experience and the impact it has on the talent pipeline. We then reviewed research data from Talent Board to better understand candidate experience. This started our journey.

3. How did you build support and commitment within your team and the broader organization? How did you demonstrate the importance of candidate experience?

I am fortunate because I am part of the district leadership team and involved in building the district’s strategic plan. This allows me insight into the feedback from district leaders regarding talent acquisition. We also hold bi-monthly meetings with all building principals, operations supervisors and district leaders. This allows me the opportunity to share information as well as collect feedback. I have found that educators rely heavily on data and metrics to inform their decisions regarding the academic achievement of students. I use data and metrics to help bring new ideas or ideas for discussion to them, and this seems to resonate very well.

We used stories about shopping experiences, as everyone could relate to them. We were able to relate the shopping experiences to candidate experiences in a personal way that was easily understood. We provided relevant research and data from Talent Board and other resources about the importance of the candidate experience. We shared why it was important and why it mattered to both the talent pipeline and the school district’s perception in the community.

4. How do you measure candidate experience? How do you report on your recruiting process? How do you use that data to demonstrate financial impact as well as manage recruiter and hiring manager behaviors?

We measure our candidate experience through the CandE survey. We provide this survey to candidates during the research window regardless of what stage they have completed in their journey. We report on the recruiting process in our principal (leadership) meetings, as well as share information with our Board of Education. It is a little bit difficult to manage financial impact in a school district based on the nature of our industry. But we can communicate the budgetary impact of losing students if a candidate’s experience drove them away from enrolling students in our district.

Join the CandE Newsletter

Stay up to date on the latest Candidate Experience Events, Insights, Information, CandE Deadlines, Research & So Much More