Many colleges and universities are deeply steeped in traditions that guide their missions and plans for the future. And occasionally, technology can complement that history and further advance the educational mission.
Huston-Tillotson University (HT), a historically black university in Austin, Texas, has benefitted from such a partnership between technology and tradition. “We have a very long heritage, and it speaks volumes in a world where diversity is becoming increasingly desired and valued, but we don’t want our history compromised at the cost of the cutting-edge technological experience,” said Rebecca Kangas, interim director of human resources at HT. “Applicant tracking has helped demonstrate that we’re both driven by a meaningful, historical mission and are cutting-edge. It gets our mission out cleaner, clearer and with a more modern image to show that our brand is relevant and fresh.”
HT uses SelectSuite 7, which offers many advanced features that contribute to recruiting, hiring and branding. Rebecca and her team have demonstrated that intentional use of the solution is the key to realizing expanded benefits, such as streamlining all the university’s hiring — faculty, staff, adjuncts and students — through SelectSuite.
“One of the things that I really like is its giving students real-world experience with hiring,” Rebecca said. She noted the convenience that processing all hiring activities in one system delivers for her team, and said students seem to take their applications more seriously now that they have to submit online resumes and cover letters. “That professional approach is spilling over into our management of those positions, too. We’ve since rolled out real evaluations that hiring managers can give students. So the student experience is more professional, and that was tipped off because of using this system.”
This streamlining has also encouraged hiring managers to embrace the benefits of the cloud-based system for all open positions.
“If they want to hire somebody they have to go log in,” Rebecca said. She admits there’s a learning curve, especially among the less tech-savvy faculty, which Rebecca handles by sending a detailed email with specific instructions on how to use the system and inviting them to contact her with questions.
“Now, hiring managers call HR less and are able to access their applications offsite at their own convenience due to it being cloud-based. Before we got ATS, I would actually scan and make PDFs of all the paper documents and put them in an FTP folder, but the managers had to be onsite to access it. This flexibility helps a lot of the search committees to more thoroughly review the applications.”
This makes hiring faster and more convenient for Rebecca’s team, too. “I’m increasing my efficiency on the administrative side, building relationships with applicants and sending them more email correspondence. But I’m also increasing the transparency around the hiring process, and empowering hiring managers to be able to see where their employment requisition is in the process.”
In addition to improving the applicant experience, this reinforces university priorities for new hires and empowers hiring managers to remain focused on their top priority — student achievement.
“People want to work at a place that’s meaningful, where their work is meaningful,” Rebecca said. “At HT they’re valued as part of something larger because our mission speaks to all of that — we cater in very large part to first-generation college students — and we’re able to attract mission-driven people. Higher education often has them, but we have a special angle and ATS helps us portray who we are.”