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Feature

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With the new system, people can search for and apply for jobs at any time of day, any day of the week.

U hiring system goes online

By Alan Olson

Brief, July 12, 2006

Every year, more than 50,000 job applications are submitted for positions in the University of Minnesota system. Seventy-five percent are from applicants outside the U. Hundreds of current employees are involved in various steps in the hiring processes. And at any given time, about 900 positions are open and posted.

Last month the Office of Human Resources went live with a new employment system that is entirely online, eliminating the need to mail, fax, or submit paper documents. Departments can post jobs, applicants can apply for them, and both parties can track positions throughout the hiring process. The new system aims to shave two to three weeks off the average hire time--from the day a job is posted to the day an offer is made to an applicant.

Not only does the system open up opportunities to bring people into positions faster, but it puts the University in a more competitive position with other employers at every U location. More effective communication will help to recruit and refer high quality applicants for vacancies.

It's a transformation both for employees involved in the hiring process and for applicants who want to explore career opportunities at the U.

Hiring

On the behind-the-scenes side, over 800 U employees across the state have been assigned to carry out one or more functions in the new system. Each person touches the employment process and brings together qualified people with University jobs. Though the hiring process will essentially remain the same within each department, the method of communicating about applicants will change significantly.

All job requisitions will be completed through the online system--no more paper. As they are created, requisitions will route through the system electronically, no longer relying on a fax machine to submit and post. Some employees will create and post job requisitions. Others will approve them. Everybody involved in a hiring process will be able to see, literally, where a requisition is. Hiring managers will gain tools for tracking hiring activity, reviewing the status of requisitions and applications, and maintaining requisition information for future use. Nobody will have to fax, file, or maintain thousands of paper applications each year. Every change is designed to ultimately save staff time and department money.

Applying

Changes on the applicant side may remain invisible to most University employees, but enhancements will be significant. All of the project's committee and advisory board members wanted to make the application process less mysterious to applicants.

One of the biggest changes is a search function. Before, applicants had to search for open positions under job classifications. Now they can search by keyword, which allows them to be as general or as precise as they want. That makes navigating the U and trying to figure out the classification system less of a concern.

People can search, fill out an application, and apply for a position at any time of day, any day of the week. Should they choose to create an application before searching for a position, applicants are linked to a page with brief descriptions of position categories--student, staff, and faculty/academic--and select which application to complete based upon these categories. Once an application is completed, the applicant can keep it on file electronically and edit it as needed to apply for other positions. Resumes and cover letters can be attached and submitted each time an applicant applies for a position.

After applying for a position, an applicant will get a confirmation that the application was received. In the past, this has been the point where applicants often have been left wondering what office sucked up the application and attached cover letter and resume. Now they have secure access to review the status of their own application, see where they are in the process, and decide whether to continue seeking other opportunities at the University. When a position is filled, applicants not hired will be notified by e-mail. A beauty of the new system is eliminating the wondering, "Why don't they call me?" and "What's going on?"

A better experience for everybody

As of July 10, 3,300 individual applicants had submitted 5,300 applications in the new system--18 percent for faculty positions, 58 percent for staff positions, and 24 percent for student jobs. It's a pace that exceeds last year.

Sunni Cohoes works in human resources for University Services, which includes facilities management, housing, parking, auxiliary services, and dining services.

"For [these] units, the new system has been more efficient," says Cohoes. "The hiring authorities love being able to look at [applications] and not having to wait for them. The process is a lot smoother and faster."

The new system was developed by a core team of seven, an advisory committee of 10, and an all-campuses committee of 17. They incorporated processes, procedures, and rules from across the University to create the customized system and designed it to meet the needs of employees, departments, and the U as a whole.

The Office of Human Resources staff is confident that the new system will create a positive experience for hiring authorities, search committees, and applicants and--even more than that--expose more people to the great opportunities available at the University.


Alan Olson is a communications project manager at the Office of Human Resources.