In the course of a long (some may say too long) career in recruitment marketing, I’ve worked with every university in Scotland. They have slightly different approaches to recruitment, mostly good, but, in my opinion, there is one that clearly stands out. The fact that I’m writing this blog on this site will, unsurprisingly, lead you to the (correct) conclusion that this is RGU.
The reasons for this are many and varied. Principally, in my experience, there are few in-house university recruitment teams that do so much with so little, even fewer who really do “get” how to adapt and use technology to their advantage and a tiny minority – the proverbial “hens’ teeth” who genuinely innovate and make a major difference.
That ability to innovate has now been recognised by the recruitment team at RGU being shortlisted for the ‘Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance’ award at the Universities HR conference (UHR) in Manchester this year. If you follow RGU on social media, where they have assiduously built up a substantial, relevant and targeted following, you’ll have seen over the last year that they promote a number of annual recruitment events for a range of different vacancies, including cleaners and janitors. This is the visual manifestation of a comprehensive change of tack in their recruitment of core administration staff, underpinned by the creation of a centralised system to recruit and select, with several recruitment drives every year and the establishment of talent pools so that people don’t need to re-apply for the same job.
The reason for this change was the downturn in the local economy, as a result of well-publicised issues in the North Sea oil industry. With people leaving the oil industry, interest in university posts soared and RGU saw a 250% rise in applicant numbers. Reviewing applications became un-manageable and selection of candidates for interview was becoming an unfair lottery. Consequently, action was required to improve the efficiency of the process for hiring schools/departments and applicants and improve fairness and consistency across the process.
The Resourcing team at RGU therefore developed a new system where they now manage recruitment of all core administration staff in three stages; initial application, telephone scenario and final skills test and a behavioural interview. Successful candidates are either progressed immediately to current vacancies or are placed in an appropriate talent pool until a suitable role becomes available. A new recruitment drive begins when pool numbers are low.
What this means for those seeking a job is that a) they know they will be fairly and professionally assessed, b) the process is far quicker and more transparent, and, probably one of the most important benefits, c) they will not have to re-apply for jobs for which they are qualified.
That this is organised and administered by only two, part-time, recruitment specialists shows just why RGU has been nominated for this award. Moreover, in the first year of operation more efficient assessment methods have reduced costs by 60% – that’s your and my tax-payers’ money, which is a good thing in itself. Finally, after years of struggling to compete against the oil companies, they have gained competitive advantage in the local job market as applicants have become appreciative of their fair, relevant and consistent approach, giving them access to a wide variety of roles from one application. They deserve to win this UHR award.
Alastair Blair, thePotentMix (formerly MD of Euro RCCG Riley, now Havas People, one of the top recruitment marketing agencies in the UK).