District deploys new rules for speedier hiring
District Human Resources administrators hope that updates to the process for hiring employees, effective for jobs posted after Sep. 23, will significantly reduce the four or more months it typically takes to fill a vacant position in the Maricopa County Community College District.
Lori Lindseth, senior human resources manager at Paradise Valley Community College, says the reforms were initiated by District HR following feedback generated by an assessment it conducted, and so far 140 PVCC faculty and staff have received training in the new hiring process since January. Although few new positions have been posted since the streamlined process went into effect, Lindseth says the updates are going smoothly so far.
Dr. Mary Lou Mosley, Vice-President of Academic Affairs at PVCC, says she will be watching how the updates impact the hiring process over the course of this semester and into the Spring, when many job offers are finalized. Mosley, who oversees hiring for faculty and learning support positions at the college, is applying the brakes on at least one of the updated guidelines issued by district HR. District HR is now allowing as few as two committee members to screen applications for basic qualifications, but Mosley wants to see the full committee screening the applicant pool for faculty positions.
The new minimum was meant to reduce the time it takes to winnow out applicants who do not meet basic qualifications, like required education and skills. Lindseth says scheduling a time when all committee members can be present for this step can add time to the process. Mosley, however, is wary of leaping to take advantage of the new minimum for faculty hires.
“If you only have two viewpoints looking at applicants, I think it tends to limit the results for many positions,” says Mosley.
She says she’s also concerned about the potential impact of fewer screeners on diversity. Currently, this is the only guideline Mosley has issued in response to the updated hiring process.
Herman Gonzalez, Vice President of Administrative Services at PVCC, welcomes the updates and says that reductions in hiring time are badly needed. He says that MCCCD’s average “time-to-hire” is far longer than average hiring times in other industries, and that the college system risks losing the best candidates because of the delays.
As the county implements the host of procedural efficiencies to reduce time-to-hire, Lindseth says a key concern will be to maintain compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity laws, and promote a diverse workforce. Rules requiring each hiring committee to have one female, one male, and one person reflecting ethnic diversity will remain the same. The county will also continue to engage in affirmative actions to increase the diversity of their applicant pools, including active recruitment of applicants from diverse community groups. The county doesn’t use quotas when hiring.
“We don’t hire based on the fact that someone is one way or another,” says Lindseth. Instead, the county’s HR departments promote diversity with diverse candidate pools, she says.
PVCC faculty and staff themselves are critical to hiring, and will be an important factor in the success of the streamlined process. Hiring committees are composed of employees from both the Professional Staff Association, and the Management, Administrative and Technological group, who volunteer to serve on the hiring committees, which vary in size based on the position. Getting involved in a search committee is a way for faculty and staff to contribute to the success of the college by helping bring in the best candidates.
Mosley says one motivation for faculty and staff serving on committees is “they want to work with good colleagues.”
Gonzales says he would like to see hiring time eventually reduced to three months or less, but sources for this story agree it will be a challenge. Hiring can be a long and difficult process for certain positions. Mosley says that the number of applicants for a faculty position at PVCC can range from 80 to over 300, each of whom must be screened by multiple committee members.
Lindseth, who’s department will be executing the changes, welcomes the revised processes and believes they can help reduce hiring time so the system can remain competitive and hire the top candidates in their fields.
Hiring Reform Highlights
• Screeners can start reviewing applications as soon as they come in instead of having to wait until the posting has closed and all applications have been received.
• Job openings will be posted immediately after they are approved by the department and HR. Before, openings were only posted on Mondays, meaning if an approval came through on a Tuesday, almost a week would go by before the job was actually posted.
• The county will only require two members of the search committee to screen for basic qualifications, like education. Previously, the entire search committee had to meet for this more routine part of the process. However, at PVCC, the entire hiring committee will still meet to screen applicants for faculty positions.
• There are now explicit instructions and guidelines for writing job descriptions and qualifications, which will make job postings less vague, and bring more candidates that actually meet the qualifications.
• Candidates can now be placed in their proper salary range before they are officially approved by the county board. Previously, candidates could only be guaranteed the lowest salary tier until the board had officially approved the hire, which Lindseth says created delays and confusion.
• Background checks can be run before or after the final interview, instead of only after.
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