Vacancies for headteacher jobs are heading for a record high for the first three months of the year.
Schools are now having to offer salaries of up to pound;70,000 for primary headships and pound;100,000 in secondaries after failing to fill the top jobs.
Professor John Howson, director of Education Data Surveys, said: "It is a buyers' market. There are too many jobs chasing not enough people."
Headship adverts in The TES are at their highest level for seven years. In the first 10 weeks of the year, 1,050 jobs were advertised for the first time, compared with 913 for the same period last year.
"We are heading towards a record first quarter," said Professor Howson.
His figures show that about a fifth of community schools and a third of faith schools with vacancies in January had to readvertise.
Fishburn primary, County Durham, advertised for a new head in January following the early retirement of Geoff Handley. There were 16 applications and a shortlist of four dropped to three when one candidate found another job. The new head will be Danny Eason, 38, head of 87-pupil New Brancepeth primary in County Durham.
A high number of applications is now relatively unusual. Half of primaries get five or fewer applications for the top job.
Bemberton St John Church of England first school, in Salisbury, was preparing to shortlist candidates this week after having to readvertise.
Sally Thomas, deputy head and governor, said: "We are a lovely school. We expected around 10 applications. We were disappointed when it was only five. We didn't shortlist and readvertised in the hope that we'd get a better response."
The 125-pupil school originally hoped for a head willing to teach two days a week. That has now been reduced to one in an attempt to attract more candidates.