A new approach to hiring (and keeping) great people

The University of Iowa is reimagining how it attracts, engages, and recruits potential faculty and staff, aiming to compete with other top employers.

A team of UI human resources professionals this summer proposed a holistic model that builds the university’s reputation as a great place to work, better promotes job opportunities, and streamlines the hiring process.

“We want to focus on finding and keeping great people,” says Cheryl Reardon, chief HR officer and associate vice president. “That requires a coordinated effort to boost the university’s profile, identify people we’d like to join us, and create better opportunities for people already here.”

The fall 2016 Talent@Iowa task force established talent acquisition as the university’s highest human resources priority. Likewise, the university’s strategic plan emphasizes that only a world-class workforce can help the UI achieve its goals for teaching, research, community engagement, and patient care.

Chart showing new talent acquisition model, illustrating balanced emphasis on attracting, engaging, and recruiting potential employees.

The new talent acquisition model—currently being presented for feedback from the campus HR community, UI leadership, faculty and staff governance groups, and other stakeholders—expands on traditional activities like advertising, interviewing, and selecting top candidates. It aims to develop, for example:

  • A compelling “employer brand” that conveys the experience of working at the UI
  • Stronger ties to professional groups, communities, and academic institutions that can serve as pipelines for future staff and faculty
  • Talent pools for high-demand classifications
  • Specialized recruiters who help identify and cultivate strong candidates

The model would enhance central services while leaving hiring decisions in the hands of units, creating new opportunities for efficiency. Automation and coordinated advertising, for example, could save time and, in some cases, reduce costs.

The university also is modernizing its systems for managing job postings and applications. This summer, it finalized a contract for Oracle’s Taleo talent acquisition suite, which will replace the Jobs@UIowa system. “We think Taleo will provide a better experience for candidates and hiring departments alike,” Reardon says.

The new talent acquisition model is one of many related initiatives that make up Talent@Iowa, a cross-campus project to enhance human resources collaboration, innovation, and engagement. In addition to Reardon, the team behind the new model includes:

  • Christine Annicella, HR director for the College of Education
  • Keith Becker, interim director of University Human Resources Employment Services
  • Angie Bell, director of information management/projects and services for University Human Resources
  • Ruthina Malone, administrator in the Departments of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Sociology
  • Rebecca Schwertfeger, director of talent acquisition for UI Health Care Human Resources