Vice president to streamline hiring

The University’s newest vice president is working to market employee benefits and cut the red tape that bogs down hiring, part of a broader strategy to differentiate GW from similar employers nationwide.

Sabrina Ellis – who assumed the top human resources post in January – said Tuesday that revamping the University’s approach to faculty and staff recruitment is her top priority.

“If we can be ahead of the curve on bringing in talent, then that will help to ensure that we’re making traction in our larger strategies,” Ellis said.

She called the current recruitment process “unwieldy,” pointing to lengthy searches and complex collaboration between HR and individual departments.

Searches for new employees are conducted through a University website but the listing cannot be posted until both offices involved agree on a description. Ellis said this internal review process can be trimmed to increase efficiency.

“I’m looking at, in HR, developing a metric where, when a department makes a determination that they need to fill a job, that we in HR are able to move that position through the various steps in the process,” Ellis said, citing posting the job, attracting a strong applicant pool and facilitating a smooth transition once a candidate is chosen as necessary measures in the process.

She said her approach will reduce the time between the opening of vacancies and final hiring decisions by “unclogging the bottleneck that currently exists” with administrative processes in the Office of Human Resources.

A streamlined recruitment process would allow for more applicants, which Ellis believes will help make national searches more rewarding.

Her strategy will also emphasize the advantages of a career at GW – including its location and the use of campus facilities. She hopes to entice the strongest candidates by initiating a discussion of retirement and health benefits earlier in the hiring process.

Candidate engagement – the process through which the University pitches itself to desirable applicants – will be formalized through tours of facilities and the neighborhood, Ellis said.

“I would want them to understand what full University citizenship includes,” she said.

Hiring will be geared toward specific communities, like veterans, to garner interest among qualified applicants, Ellis said. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit, a national program signed into law by President Barack Obama in November 2011, reduces the federal tax burden of any business that hires unemployed veterans.

The University is accepting applicants for more than 100 faculty and staff positions, six of which are at the senior management level. Openings include a director for the University Counseling Center, several fundraising administrators and a vice provost of budget and finance.

GW is also looking to hire an executive director of talent acquisition, a position Ellis hopes to fill by “early spring.” That administrator will be responsible for developing a strategy to manage recruitment, evaluate weaknesses in the GW workforce and improve the University’s reputation as an employer.

Ellis said that GW competes for prospective employees with Syracuse, Duke and Northwestern Universities, among others.

A more hands-on approach to recruitment will facilitate hiring across the University’s academic and administrative departments, Ellis said.

“What I see is building a competency at GW that can be used across all areas. So if we have an effective talent management strategy and talent acquisition strategy, then we should be able to deploy that strategy for engineering, for the humanities, for technology, for administration,” she said.

Ellis’ efforts fall in line with University President Steven Knapp’s goal to make GW “a place where everyone wants to work,” which he emphasized in December before Ellis assumed the vice presidency.

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