U of T revamps its HR recruitment process

The University of Toronto has turned to software as a service to improve its recruitment and hiring process and to target a more diverse group of applicants.

U of T, which has some 70,000 students and 10,000 faculty and staff members, chose Taleo’s talent management software for use across three campuses.

With a decentralized HR service delivery model across 12 different offices, the university simply didn’t have good data, said Christina Sass-Kortsak, assistant vice-president of human resources at U of T. The Taleo software, launched earlier this month, is expected to automate the HR process as much as possible.

While the university previously posted job openings online, they were difficult to sort and the system wasn’t user-friendly, she said. “We want to be able to recruit excellent people and we didn’t feel the system we had in place had a good look and feel to it.”

Taleo will help to reduce the time and administration associated with its previous manual recruiting and hiring process. But the university was also looking to use technology as a way of reaching a more diverse group of applicants, Sass-Kortsak said.

“A really important part of our vision is to mirror the diversity of the student community with our staff,” said Sass-Kortsak. “We felt with a better system we could reach a broader applicant pool.”

While the university will receive some direct savings in paper and mailing costs, most of its savings are in the form of time and ways it can reallocate HR personnel to more value-added activities.

“It’s about improving the efficiency of the hiring process, the quality of the people you hire and bottom-line results in terms of getting better talent in your organization,” said Dave Michaud, vice-president of product marketing with Taleo Corp. “It’s not just about the time and efficiency they’re saving, it’s about hiring and retaining the best possible talent.”

And this is a trend that’s happening worldwide, he said. A lot of mature economies – such as Canada, the U.S., Japan and parts of Europe – will be struggling over the next five to 10 years as baby boomers start to retire.

While the importance of “people” to an organization has been paid a lot of lip service, organizations are now starting to actually do something about it.

“There really is a proven correlation between the talent you have in an organization and the success of that organization,” said Michaud. “The world is now flat with the Internet connectivity that everyone has, with the growing skill base coming up in previously third-world countries like India and China, where people can take advantage of that skill and have a virtual workforce worldwide.”

And talent is going to be a differentiator going forward, he said.

U of T is currently using the software for administrative positions, but next year it plans to expand its use to include faculty recruitment.

“Faculty applications are very different,” said Sass-Kortsak. “They tend to have a lot of big attachments.”

She also expects Taleo to help with internal recruitment, since U of T has a number of unions and internal hiring procedures related to collective agreements. “We really like to support career development, so one of the clear benefits we hope to get out of this is employees can sign on and be notified of openings and apply,” she said.

This will help the university better promote its policy of opening positions to certain employees, who already have a solid understanding of the skills required for the job, Sass-Kortsak said.

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