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Imperial College London: Developing a first-class recruitment solution
Imperial College London is credited as one of the world’s top ten higher education institutions, with a mission to benefit society through its excellence in science, engineering business and medicine. Part of achieving its mission, and retaining its high-profile status on the world stage, is hiring great people across all areas of the university, including catering, IT, communications, HR and academia.
Previously the recruitment team at Imperial would manually process applications, often causing issues, including duplications and inconsistencies, which led to to delays in the overall recruiting process. This prompted the team to search for a more self-sufficient, modern system to streamline the process and create efficiencies.
Imperial played an important role during the coronavirus pandemic, given its Department of Infectious Disease team’s involvement in the virus research and vaccine search. It was therefore vital to have a top-level recruitment function to support the university at this critical time.
Imperial College London underwent an HR transformation project to make all processes effective and efficient so that the team could better serve the university. Cornerstone’s Recruitment solution TalentLink had all the right functionalities and capabilities so needed to be fully embedded into the end-to-end process.
When it came to auditing and transforming the recruitment function, automation and digitalisation were the main priorities. The previous manual requisition process meant that the recruitment team spent a lot of their time on repetitive administrative activity, such as copying information from one form to another, so it was important to have a system that could streamline these processes whilst bringing wider benefits to the team.
Other solutions were considered for the challenge but the sophisticated capabilities and speed of implementation made TalentLink the top choice for Imperial. Following an internal focus group discussion, a new job requisition form and process was launched using TalentLink within three months.
Smoother end-to-end process. Three faculties and all support services divisions are currently using the new ‘request to recruit’ form, following the phased launch, and there has already been siginificant improvement to the process. Rather than each requsition being entered by hand, Imperial can now rely on the new online process via the TalentLink system to have all the information on new job requisitions entered and stored in one system, with managers able to make edits and approve where relevant. This means the recruitment function serves a better purpose for the team and for the university by providing a more efficient process.
Increased engagement among Hiring Managers. The team at Imperial were proud to see that managers have taken the new process fully onboard, using the new request to recruit form. Feedback from internal survey results shows extremely positive feedback from departments with urgent and regular recruiting needs, proving that the system is a huge success across the university.
Reduced burden on adminstrative tasks.
The new recruiting solution has put an end to the inefficient and time-consuming administrative tasks endured by the recruitment team and Hiring Managers. Now requisitions are processed and stored automatically meaning that the team can focus on value-added tasks that have a wider impact on the university.
With a more efficient system in place for requisitions, Hiring Managers have better visibility on the overall process meaning requisitions can be processed quicker, thus filling vacancies quicker. As a result, Hiring Managers have become much more self-sufficient in their roles, proving their impact on the wider business
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Why You Shouldn't Overlook Candidates With an Alternative Education
More students are pursuing higher education than ever before—but at a higher cost. The result? The national student debt burden is approaching $1.5 trillion, and in 2016 the average college student graduated with over $37,000 in student loans. For many potential college students who are now the future of our workforce, this process has become untenable. To find jobs, they need skills, but at what cost? I'm hardly alone in advocating for HR practices that seek unconventional candidates for employment—namely individuals with varied expertise, nontraditional career paths and those who have acquired higher education in a unique university setting (or outside of a university entirely). Scott Pulsipher, president of Western Governors University (WGU), also believes in the importance of competency over a flashy degree. WGU provides an education to students on unconventional learning paths and prepares them for the workforce in more practical ways. The school was founded just over 20 years ago and has awarded close to 100,000 degrees, today serving approximately 85,000 students. I interviewed Pulsipher for the Disrupt Yourself Podcast to understand more about the benefits of alternative education programs and why he believes organizations should recruit talent with non-traditional educational backgrounds. Degrees Aren't Everything WGU's programs aren't designed for traditional college-aged students. Rather, the university provides an opportunity for working adults who have sometimes earned college credits, but not a full degree. There are more than 31 million such adults in the U.S. Often they live in rural areas, where educational access is poor and the education ethos less developed. Because it costs about half as much as a state school, a WGU education is more attainable. "On average, WGU graduates earn nearly $20,000 more in income than they did when they started. Our average student is 37 years old, our oldest graduates are in their late 70s and early 80s," according to Pulsipher. From a hiring perspective, these graduates are a gold mine—they have life experiences, and are often hungry for previously denied opportunities to prove themselves. WGU's programs are fully online, all emphasizing practical, high-demand expertise: business, technology, health services and teaching. Contrary to popular belief, many jobs in these fields do not require four-year degrees. Thanks to technology that can now do a lot of the heavy lifting, many roles now simply require competency in a specific field and adaptability to new tools. WGU's approach ensures that graduates obtain just that. It's About Competency, Not Curriculum WGU employs an entirely competency-based grading model. "If you're competent, then you're meeting the standards that are needed in the workplace environment for that core subject matter. There are no grades; you either pass or you don't," Pulsipher explains. One benefit of this alternative education model is that it ensures that students actually learn everything they need to know in order to perform the tasks associated with the jobs they'll be seeking. Plus, with no required electives or liberal arts courses, students can focus on gaining specific skills targeted to their future jobs. WGU isn't right for everyone, but for a sizeable piece of the adult population, it offers an accessible, cost-effective alternative to the traditional university. Many jobs still require a traditional university education and advanced degrees, but others do not, and for those who've been left behind by unattainable educational opportunities, even basic jobs can be out of reach. Through WGU's model, these students reach their potential, improve their competencies and contribute to the workforce. The takeaway for HR professionals is that unconventional educational paths can provide an expansive pool of well-qualified talent that shouldn't be dismissed. There are advantages to hiring candidates overlooked by others—these capable people can bring not only specialized competency to the table, but also life experience, stability and the drive to prove what they can do. Photo: Creative Commons
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A New Generation of Higher Education Leaders
Behind every student and high-profile academic at a higher education institution is a team of dedicated professionals committed to their school’s excellence and success. These hundreds or even thousands of staff members fill roles and responsibilities that extend far beyond classroom walls – from finance to admissions, human resources to IT, operations to athletics. It goes without saying that institutions recognize the value of their talent and the many important roles these employees play – but with a large wave of baby boomer retirements and other unplanned staff turnover hitting higher education, many schools have recognized that they are behind on succession planning initiatives. Institutions are asking themselves, Who will lead our teams, departments and other organizations in the future? Are we doing enough (or anything) to prepare staff for evolving work requirements and job demands? Are we going to be all right? Making Succession Planning a Priority Two executives at the University of Scranton shared their observations with Inside Higher Ed about succession planning within their CIO organization, after the department head moved on to a new opportunity. Long before the CIO’s departure, the team had taken the steps to identify core competencies and prepare staff to assume broader responsibilities. When faced with an executive departure, business was able to continue as usual, thanks to their proactive strategic succession planning efforts. The experience of this one department at the University of Scranton is unique, as higher education institutions struggle with the concept of succession planning and how to make it a priority. In fact, I would wager that when asked to define "succession planning", the leadership at higher education institutions would default to the older, traditional way of thinking – that Person B will replace Person A upon his or her retirement or departure. Or, perhaps it represents the process of putting together a search committee to find a new job candidate after an executive-level departure. Looking To the Next Generation (Focus on the Work) These views on succession planning are shortsighted, and are no longer relevant for how the business of higher education is conducted. As with most other industries, higher education workforces are multi-generational, more collaborative, less focused on titles and hierarchy while increasingly focused on the competencies and skills required from a team to drive the department and the institution’s mission forward. The work (and how we do the work) is changing – therefore, so must the approach to succession planning. Succession planning must look towards the emerging jobs and responsibilities of tomorrow and address how to foster the next generation of institution leadership, beyond a department head. This philosophy can be challenging – it’s easy to let the concept of a job overshadow the realities of the work. However, it is critical to understand the work that needs to be done in order for a team, department or organization to be successful – and to use this insight as the basis for succession planning. When focusing on the work as opposed to the individual roles or jobs that make up an organization, higher education institutions can truly plan for future success. Leaders can think more broadly about the skills and competencies a workforce (as opposed to an individual) must possess and contribute across all levels of the organization. Career paths can be developed to guide employees to acquire needed skills and prepare to take on increased levels of responsibility and leadership – also aiding retention efforts, as staff will possess clearly defined growth paths, encouraging them to stay on and build their careers as opposed to looking elsewhere for new opportunities. Building a succession planning strategy should be viewed first and foremost as an opportunity – a chance to evaluate the kind of work required by the institution; the skills, knowledge and abilities that are required to successfully perform the work; and the employees with the potential to become a part of the next generation of leadership. Employees and departments will be set up to continuously learn and adapt to changing needs. Set-in-stone job descriptions with narrowly defined sets of responsibilities no longer apply. Institutions are no longer grooming the next individual executive, but rather grooming the entire workforce to prepare for the changes, challenges and opportunities that are coming in the future.
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