UHR Enhances Research Staff Hiring Process

GW Kogon Plaza Trustees' Gate
Applicant-tracking system will streamline steps to hire new talent.
March 15, 2016

The university is taking steps to streamline its hiring process for research staff by bringing a formerly paper-intensive procedure into the online system used for all other staff hirings.

Beginning with a pilot phase this winter, research staff at GW are being hired using the university's applicant-tracking system, a web-based, sequential platform already used to hire all other staff employees. Research staff had previously been hired through a non-standardized process unique to the school or college where the new employee would work.

"We wanted to see how we could use our technology to expedite research hiring since there is a high degree of time sensitivity," said Dale McLeod, interim vice president for Human Resources. "We leveraged our existing applicant-tracking system to figure out how the research hiring process could benefit from being in an online system."

Staff candidates who apply for positions through the university job portal are enrolled in the applicant-tracking system and subsequently are advanced through a series of steps by managers and University Human Resources staff if they are to be hired. Research staff hiring had previously followed a more laborious process that relied heavily on institutional knowledge and paper forms, said Alberto Mojica, assistant director for business processes.

Conversations among UHR staff, employees in the Office of the Vice President for Research and HR client partners in GW's schools and colleges revealed common services that the applicant-tracking system could provide, Mr. Mojica said.

"We started mapping the entire process a few years ago," he said. "We brought in folks from OVPR, client partners, finance and business offices to get a grasp on what the process was, and we tried to find commonalities for what everyone needed."

The applicant-tracking system is a universal tool that is flexible enough for customized steps based on the hiring needs of the school or department, Mr. McLeod and Mr. Mojica said.

The system will allow for a more simplified hiring process. Once a step is completed, the system routes the necessary forms to the next person automatically. It removes the need for inter-office mail, and it makes the process less reliant on a single employee who knows all the steps and people necessary to hire an employee.

"We've demystified the process," Mr. Mojica said. "Before, everyone was struggling to understand where hiring actions were in the process, often having to call individuals to figure out where things stood. Now, that's no longer the case. Everyone needed for the process is built into the workflow. Everything that needs to be filled out is a required step. You go into the system, you fill out the form, and it routes to the next person. Because everything is in the system, it's transparent where in the process you are, and what any issues are."

A long-term benefit of the online system: data. To anticipate the needs of departments with research needs, UHR is exploring using its applicant-tracking system to establish a hiring pool of post-doctoral candidates, Mr. McLeod said.

Three schools—the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Milken Institute School of Public Health—have been using the online system since January. The plan is to bring the rest of the university online in the spring. UHR also has reorganized support staff to better assist the research staff hiring process, Mr. McLeod said.