Hamilton rolls out recruiting application for city staff

The City of Hamilton, Ont. has become the first Canadian municipality to fully deploy PeopleSoft’s eRecruit software, part of the vendor’s Enterprise suite of products.

Hamilton went live with the electronic job application

product for both external and internal job applicants in September, following a pilot project with internal employees earlier in the year.

The city made the move not only to increase the efficiency of its HR staff and processes, but also to prepare itself for an expected surge in retirements over the next few years.

“”The average age of a City of Hamilton employee in 2004 was 45 years,”” said Mark Amorosi, director of employment and client services in the city’s HR department. “”We know in the next 10 years up to 68 per cent of our full-time work force is going to be eligible to retire. We also know more people are going to be retiring in the next 10 to 15 years than entering the labour force, and what that means for everybody is greater competition for talent.

“”We want to be able to compete for the talent and get people interested in applying, and one of best practices way to do that is Internet recruiting.””

Hamilton, which amalgamated with the region and several smaller area cities in 2001, decided to move to PeopleSoft as part of its Y2K upgrade.

In 2001 there was a capital budget submission for the implementation of additional modules, including employee self-service and eRecruit, beyond the basic HR module as it was called at the time, as well as an upgrade to the Internet version 8.3 that HR is currently running on.

Having an online job application tool means prospective employees can search current openings, fill out job applications online and receive an automatic confirmation that their applications have been received. The process takes about four to five minutes the first time, but because all their pertinent information is saved with their user name and password, subsequent applications can be completed in a minute or so.

And while the process is obviously popular with applicants — the city has received more than 2,000 external online applications for about 15 to 20 job openings since eRecruit was launched publicly — it’s also a major timesaver for city staff, Amorosi said.

One of the biggest advantages is the screening feature that eliminates the need to manually pour through hundreds of applications, many of which are from people without the required skills or experience.

The other advantage is being able to use software that is part of Hamilton’s ERP solution, rather than something like Workopolis, Amorosi said.

“”Because it is a fully integrated part of the ERP solution, there is no need to build any interfaces,”” he said. “”When an internal employee applies for a job all their information is already there, which is a huge benefit, and there is less cost. We already own PeopleSoft and we’re already paying maintenance fees, so this is part of our benefits — to leverage modules we already own.””

The implementation took just over a year and required the tweaking and customization typical of ERP solutions, he said.

Since launching, the employee orientation section of the city’s site for current and prospective employees, which provides a wide variety of information related to working for the city, has climbed to 34,000 hits in October from 20,000 hits in May.

“”That’s pretty significant in terms of traffic,”” he said. “”It shows people are researching whether or not to work for the city.””

According to Janet Bolt, account executive for PeopleSoft Canada, there are a number of other Canadian municipalities either in the process of implementing eRecruit or looking at doing so.

The biggest attraction for organizations such as municipalities, she said, is that it allows them to not only address budget constraints by reducing the number of staff needed to recruit new employees but also to reduce the amount of paperwork they typically have to handle.

As well, she added, municipalities should realize online recruiting is not the way of the future — it is the way of the present.

“”From a general job applicant perspective, the world is Internet-based, and especially younger folks coming out of colleges and universities expect to be able to apply for jobs in real time,”” Bolt said. “”I really see that as the driving force.””

Future developments for PeopleSoft’s eRecruit product will reflect more of an applicant relationship management focus, Bolt said.

“”Similar to customer relationship management, whereby organizations profile their customers and understand their buying habits, organizations will need to pay more attention to enhancing the applicant experience and being more proactive with job seekers,”” she said. “”This applies to both internal and external applicants.””

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