The University Record, February 28, 1994

JOBNET Task Force: Recruitment, referral system need revising

An external review of the personnel department conducted by Fortunato Associates in 1988 showed that automation of the employment process was necessary. This recommendation was supported by a Medical Center task force, which conducted a five-year review of the Medical Campus Human Resources Department, and input from a variety of campus constituency groups and employee focus groups.

With that customer input and an eye on the growing volume of employment activity at the U-M, the Human Resources Department joined representatives from the University’s Information Technology Division and an advisory group of unit representatives to develop JOBNET, an automated employment system.

JOBNET was unveiled in two stages: electronic job postings through GopherBLUE in February 1992, which automated the job postings process and eliminated redundant data entry in the University employment offices, and the applicant referral system in July 1993.

JOBNET’s task was daunting: to streamline and improve the efficiency of the outdated manual employment system, create an online job posting system, develop a uniform application process, and better track applicant flow and other data—all under a single computer system shared by every employment office.

As with any new product, feedback from both hiring departments and applicants showed that improvements were needed. To that end, a JOBNET task force was formed in October 1993 to evaluate that feedback and recommend interim system improvements. Once the improvements are in place, work will continue toward reaching long-term solutions.

The 13 task force members come from the three employment offices and a diverse group of customers representing hiring departments and applicants. Their challenge was to evaluate feedback from departments and applicants to help recommend and prioritize interim system improvements and ensure that the project has proper representation and input from customer groups.

Now two-thirds of the way through its six-month charge, the task force has determined that the recruitment and referral system must be revised to meet its goals. Among the most vocal complaints are that the system is too cumbersome and that the process from application to filling an open position had slowed.

“One of our goals is to reduce the time it takes to fill a job,” says Tom Palmer, manager of Human Resources Information Services and a task force member. “Although the average number of days needed to fill a

job has remained about the same, we’ve heard from hiring departments that the effort required to review, contact and interview candidates has increased, and that often when they contact applicants that were referred to them from job pools, they find that the applicants are not interested in the jobs.”

JOBNET also was geared to increase the amount of time that employment representatives spend filling open positions, decrease emphasis on paperwork at all levels, and develop a consistent and timely method for responding to applicants.

Many of those tasks have been achieved, and very successfully. One of the advantages of the JOBNET system is the effective use of GopherBLUE, the electronic posting system that permits access to complete job descriptions of all active postings. The postings are updated each weekend. Approximately 85,000 inquiries are made each month to the JOBNET postings.

The JOBNET task force has cited several other positives of the system, including one-stop shopping for applicants; a common data base that links all University employment offices; improved tracking of applicant status; and improved information, such as applicant demographics, for analysis and feedback.

Some employment forms have been eliminated, the employment application has been upgraded, and a new Candidate Summary form has replaced the Appointment Activity Record, simplifying the department paperwork in filling a position.

The task force is concentrating on developing recommendations that can be implemented during the next few months that will result in service improvements. Among the concerns about JOBNET:

  • the skill code system

  • job pools

  • the JOBNET resume

  • resources required to manage the JOBNET system

    Focus groups are being formed to provide input that will help the task force finalize its interim recommendations to improve the JOBNET system. The focus groups, which will be drawn from both supervisors who have filled positions during the past six months and the applicants who were hired, will take place in March.

    The JOBNET task force will announce its recommendations in May.