4 ways to change the face of recruitment

With skilled employees in demand, today’s colleges and universities are driving recruiting by reexamining, and redefining, the hiring process
By: | Issue: January/February, 2020
January 12, 2020
(Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash)(Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash)

Carol Patton writes about human resources issues.

The central human resources office, also called University HR, at North Carolina State University doesn’t control the school’s recruitment process. It drives it.

“The recruitment process is a partnership between HR’s talent acquisition and hiring managers across campus,” explains David Perryman, director, talent acquisition and employment, at the university that supports about 6,000 nonfaculty employees and fills about 1,200 permanent positions each year. “We feel it’s our role to make sure that we’re a touch point and monitor that recruitment, while that hiring manager is paying attention to a number of priorities on his or her desk.”

The office’s three employees consult with hiring managers partly by creating timelines or road maps. Consider a manager who wants a job filled within 30 days. They identify the steps that need to be taken, such as when screening or interviewing must be completed. Likewise, they also monitor time to fill, alerting hiring managers to potential problems such as long hiring delays that may push skilled candidates toward competitor organizations. By offering such information, Perryman says hiring managers are better equipped to manage expectations. 

Reevaluating the hiring process

At a time when skilled employees are in demand, HR professionals at higher education institutions are driving recruitment by reevaluating the hiring process and changing the face of recruitment. Here are four ways they are advancing the hiring experience for everyone involved.

  1. Targeting adaptability: Perryman says that University HR is targeting people with soft skills, such as adaptability, who can then be trained on hard skills via the university’s new Management Essentials program. Also, its application process has been streamlined to only collect candidate information for hiring decisions.
  2. Understanding needs: “We don’t spend a lot of time chasing people who might not align with our values,” Perryman says. “We spent a lot of time over the last year self-assessing our organization so we have a good understanding what talent will be successful. … We spend more time at nonprofit job fairs than fairs where we’d compete for candidates attracted to [companies like] IBM.”

    HR can either think laterally or apply the same old approaches and drive talent away.

  3. Moving beyond full time: Whenever sometime retires or resigns, Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, reviews the individual’s job.“We look at positions with a fresh eye,” says Beth Heck, manager, talent acquisition, at the college that supports roughly 2,500 nonfaculty employees. “The world is changing. Our initiatives are different. As people leave, we evolve those positions into something else.” Heck says some positions are absorbed by others; transition into consulting positions or job-sharing opportunities; or are converted into higher level, temporary or remote positions. Although this is done on an ad hoc basis, she says HR is escalating the process, driving recruiting in new directions.
  4. Using diversity as a recruitment tool. Others are observing the new trend of diversity recruiting. Take Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, a growing capital city where employers compete for roles in IT, finance and business administration. “We’re looking at how we approach diversity and inclusion as it relates to our recruitment activity,” says Erik Smetana, executive director of compensation and talent, who adds that the university supports a dedicated diversity recruitment manager. The school, which has 4,500 nonfaculty staffers, hires roughly 1,400 employees every year. Vanderbilt has simplified its application process to attract temporary workers and also neurodiverse candidates on the autism spectrum. Smetana says search committee members are trained on unconscious bias. Data visualization is also used to help senior leaders better understand the institution’s workforce from a demographic, pay and recruitment opportunity perspective, which reveals potential recruitment opportunities. Even the language used on recruitment materials is inclusive to avoid candidate perceptions of age, race or gender bias. Since some of these changes have been implemented, Smetana says 30% more positions are being filled each year.

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These schools offer a great lesson: HR can either think laterally to drive recruitment or apply the same old approaches and drive talent away.

It seems like an obvious choice. 


Carol Patton writes about human resources issues.