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Higher Education Hiring Frustrations, Time and Cost. There Are Solutions.

Posted on: December 20th, 2011 by academickeys No Comments

When hiring for upper level administration and faculty positions, you want to find the person who will make a difference in your organization. The right person can build strong relationships, inspire others, and contribute to the overall efficacy of the program.  But finding that one person is a challenge. You’ll have to research and interview a great number of candidates.

What sources of candidates are worth your while? Where should you look? The hiring process is lengthy and muddy. In fact, research studies have shown that the process is often highly subjective as a result of time constraints, exhaustion, and too many choices, not to mention ever shifting diversity requirements dictated by Human Resources.

Hiring Committees’ Quandaries

In one study, researchers sent batches of resumes to hiring committees and asked them to score and return the resumes. The researchers subsequently sent the hiring committees the same batch of resumes but changed the names on the resumes and again asked them to score and return them. Many of the resumes that received excellent scores the first time were rejected the second time and vice versa. Researchers concluded that decisions made by hiring committees are very subjective and are influenced by insignificant factors.

Research conducted by Barbara Jones-Kavalier, Suzanne Flannigan, and George Boggs shows that colleges and universities have been using hiring practices common in the 1960s and 1970s when many institutions were rapidly growing and hiring. Although these practices worked well in the past, they don’t necessarily fit the climate and work environments of today’s colleges and universities. For instance, while newspaper classified ads were great sources of candidates in the past, they’re too expensive and reach too few people to be considered effective today. The government finally realized this and stopped requiring that positions be printed in most circumstances.
Twenty-first century colleges and universities face shrinking budgets and increasing enrollments as well as increased public pressure for transparency and accountability. With the current recession, most hiring committees also find themselves with huge numbers of applications to look through. They must spend a great amount of time just winnowing applications down to a manageable group to interview. The average search costs over $20,000 and takes 4 to 6 months. Since reviewing candidates is not their primary, secondary or even tertiary jobs, and the task is in addition to all their other tasks, it has a low priority and major inconvenience and frequently is put off until the last minute. Then the  first priority is to get through the pile

Twenty-First Century Solutions

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the task of hiring capable and valuable faculty and administration, find 21st century solutions to your hiring problems. Use online posting services to give your open position more visibility. Realize that people around the world will find your posting when searching for its keywords.

Instead of subjecting hiring committees to the overwhelming task of ranking candidates based on their applications, use products that can sort, rank, and keep track of candidates in more objective ways. With today’s technological capabilities, they don’t need to spend their time managing basic administrative tasks such as these.
Using algorithms to sort candidates based on the hiring committee’s criteria significantly cuts down on the work required by the committee. For any given advertised position, a certain percentage of applicants do not meet the basic requirements. There’s no sense in spending valuable human time going through such applications. If an algorithm can eliminate applications that don’t meet basic criteria, the hiring committee automatically has fewer candidates to sort through. When people have fewer choices, they usually make better decisions with far less uncertainty.

A number of products can help hiring committees with their complicated task of choosing the best candidate. One program separates the applications into small groups with scheduled due dates. The job of sorting through and reading applications is much more manageable in small doses than it does in a landslide of 300 applications all at once. When faced with large amounts of data, the priority subconsciously shifts to getting through the pile quickly. Frequently, a single criterion which can be scanned quickly is used. Again this is at the subconscious level. The criterion is frequently one but not the best or only gauge of a candidate and good candidates are lost.

As you read through dozens of applications, all of them can blend together, and you can lose a sense of each candidate’s individuality. To solve this problem, use a product that allows you to highlight text and/or make electronic notes as you read. These notes and highlights can be kept personal, or you can share them with others. The program keeps track of the frequency of notes and highlights, and can use these notes to rank candidates from high to low.

From the get-go, hiring committees can get better sources of candidates simply by writing better job descriptions. In addition to spelling out basic requirements of the position, a quality job description acts as a marketing piece, selling the department and the institution to the best possible candidates. When job descriptions are compelling, you’ll receive higher quality applications from candidates who have the ability and influence to raise the standards and morale of your institution. Again, programs exist today to help you with this task, which will improve your hiring process.

Let Technology Work For You

Higher education hiring methods of the past, such as using networking at professional conferences and posting job descriptions on bulletin boards of university departments, still have their place in filling positions. But as you’ve found in other areas of your life, technology can simplify the process and give you time for other priorities.

Using online posting services for hiring helps you tap into many sources of candidates for the positions you’re trying to fill. In addition, these services offer you programs and products that reduce the time and effort your committee must spend on the process. Extend your higher education hiring repertoire to online posting services to bring your institution up to speed with all that modern technology can offer you. As you reach more sources of candidates with these services, you’ll find excellent candidates to interview and to bring into your organization.

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We created AcademicKeys.com to offer universities a venue to efficiently recruit for higher-level faculty and administrative positions. In doing so, we enable our clients to target their recruiting efforts to the most qualified applicants.

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