The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Attracting Talent Today to Build Your Workforce of Tomorrow

This blog post was contributed by Jennifer R. Burnett, Ph.D., senior principal at Cornerstone, Inc.

In today’s higher ed labor market, unemployment is at an all-time low, a skills gap in the workforce continues to grow, and the workforce is made up of more generations than ever before.

For colleges and universities to attract top talent to fill the pipeline of future institution leaders in this complex and challenging environment, higher ed HR leaders must consider their recruitment process from the candidate’s perspective, recognize the importance of positive onboarding experiences and the lasting effects they have on new hires and current employees, and adapt to the changing needs of today’s employees.

Consider the Candidate’s Perspective

While referrals and targeted recruiting remain critical for sourcing candidates, higher ed must cater to the expectations of today’s candidates, effectively communicating the institution’s culture and values and providing details about job openings in a simple, easily accessible and personalized way.

Reflect on your current recruitment process by answering these questions:

  • Do your recruitment channels accurately portray your institution as an employer of choice? If not, can HR partner with a marketing team to craft branded messages that attract the desired candidates?
  • Is the recruitment process simple, transparent and personal? If not, in what ways can HR improve the candidate’s journey, from the first interaction to the application process to the interviewing stage and beyond?
  • How can HR reduce the time it takes to hire someone? (You may lose your top candidate to another organization if they become disinterested during a long and tedious hiring process.)

Meeting candidates’ expectations must be balanced with the recruiter’s responsibility to efficiently and fairly identify and select diverse, qualified, high-performing talent. Taking steps to ensure your process is free from bias and is accurate, timely, fair and collaborative will lead to confidence in both the institution and the new hire.

The Ripple Effect of Positive Onboarding Experiences

Recruitment doesn’t end after an employee has been hired. New hires who have positive onboarding experiences are more likely to stay with an institution. Onboarding should include an introduction to and immersion in the institution’s cultural values and to the team or department they are joining. New hires state that early and frequent communication from HR and automated administrative steps contribute to a positive onboarding experience.

In addition to onboarding, best-practice organizations note that it’s never too early to share with new employees the potential to grow and develop at the institution and make them aware of career opportunities and the internal mobility process. Making a commitment to internal mobility and having increased awareness about career growth opportunities gives employees a reason to stay longer and contribute to your institution, creating stability and sustainability. While HR should make new hires aware of future opportunities at the institution, it’s also critical to develop existing employees for new roles, who will in turn educate the workforce of tomorrow.

Adapting to New Employee Needs

Providing an exceptional candidate experience throughout the recruiting, hiring and onboarding processes may provoke drastic changes for some HR teams. Implementing new processes and tools to support those changes can be challenging, but institutions must adapt to the needs of the changing workforce as younger generations redefine what a lifelong career, work-life balance and quality of life looks like. HR professionals play a key role in ensuring leaders, administrators, faculty and staff are prepared for this evolution from the moment they are hired and throughout their career.

A reimagined recruitment process that considers the candidate’s perspective, meets the needs of today’s top talent and continues to engage and develop new and existing employees will be an investment for the institution’s future that will reap many benefits for years to come.

Related Resources:

Cornerstone Readings

Orientation/Onboarding Toolkit in CUPA-HR’s Knowledge Center

Recruitment Toolkit in CUPA-HR’s Knowledge Center

All Things Onboarding

How to Help Hiring Managers Help Their New Employees Hit the Ground Running

On-Demand Webinar – Onboarding: A Strategic Partner Model for Bringing About Cultural Change

Tapping Into Local Talent: Drexel University’s Hire Local Strategy

Driving Faculty Excellence Through Learning and Development

Who’s Next? A Model for Developing an Internal Talent Pipeline