Automated Hiring Processes with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Kristina Chavez is the Director of Compensation and Talent Acquisition for the Human Resources department at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). Her team leverages PeopleAdmin’s Applicant Tracking System for staff hiring, faculty hiring, part-time faculty hires, and the graduate college. Kristina’s team has been customers since 2010, before UTRGV even existed, and she sat down with our team to talk about how the platform has supported her team for over 10 years and through a merger.
Back in 2010, Kristina was working for the University of Texas Pan American when they put out an RFP for an Applicant Tracking System. They went from a paper-based process to PeopleAdmin’s ATS, but in 2013, a merger was announced between UTPA and UT Brownsville—they were becoming one institution: UTRGV. This was a huge undertaking for the HR teams. They had to shut down two universities and open up a new one, which meant making hiring decisions for the entire faculty and staff. Over one spring and summer, HR created 2500 job postings and hired every single position. At the time, UT Brownsville was using a different ATS and proposed to utilize that system. “The Brownsville team came in and did a demonstration, and it took them 45 minutes to create a posting,” said Kristina. “We gave them a demo of our PeopleAdmin system, and it took ten minutes to create a posting.” With that experience, PeopleAdmin was the clear choice for the merger.
During the merger experience, Kristina was overseeing compensation and her role involved writing job descriptions to pass over to the recruiting team. “I wrote 800 job titles and descriptions over a four month period,” Kristina remembered. “I would send them over to the recruitment team, and they’d put them into the ATS for posting. We were supposed to finish all of the hiring in five months, but we ended up hiring for seven months, because people would apply for the first job that was posted, rather than waiting for the one they really wanted. For instance, we would post an opening for administrative assistant in the biology department. Someone who used to be an admin for the accounting department might apply for that, but then when the accounting role opened up, they would want to move back there and the biology role would be open again. It was hiring musical chairs—we wanted to make sure people got the job that they wanted, even if it meant posting a position multiple times.”
Because of this merger experience, Kristina has done a lot of work with PeopleAdmin, and she’s watched how the platform has grown over the years. “Way back when I first started, we were making copies of applications and sending them through campus mail, and then scanning and sending them through secure email,” Kristina noted. “When we examined the biggest cost factor in our department, it was paper and ink because of the copies of the applications. It was a huge money saver to stop making copies, then stop scanning, and finally move to an Applicant Tracking System.”
As a compensation manager, Kristina shared that salary insights have been one of the things that make the biggest difference for her day-to-day work. “We used to have an Excel document where people could fill in hires and salaries, work through an equity review, and then send it to us,” remembered Kristina. “People would get so frustrated because of the amount of work it required, and often they would fill it out wrong. We usually ended up doing the salary review ourselves most of the time. Now, we’ve automated that, as well as the hiring proposals, the personnel action forms, and the offer letters.”
Over the years, Kristina has been a PeopleAdmin advocate at UTRGV. “A few years ago, I was asked to abandon PeopleAdmin for a different system,” said Kristina. “I took part in six months of meetings, and asked for a breakdown between the two systems. It turned out that the other system didn’t do some very critical things, like show the veteran hiring preferences. For me to check who in the pool has a hiring preference, I would have to click at every application, which is just not efficient. In PeopleAdmin, we can easily identify who has a veteran hiring preference, and we can set up other preferences. For instance, some applicants have a six-month hiring preference after a grant on a prior position has has run out. We can easily flag those through PeopleAdmin.”
Kristina’s biggest advice for other PeopleAdmin users is to ask questions. “Even when we can’t travel, my team takes advantage of the online meetings and webinars PeopleAdmin offers—but we also take time to ask questions,” Kristina notes. “We have a monthly check-in with our rep which is hugely beneficial. Even if there’s not an update to the platform, we ask questions about ideas and needs we have, and sometimes it triggers PeopleAdmin to implement something new. We don’t want to rely on the way that things have always been done.”
Towards the end of our conversation, Kristina shared some exciting news. “We were just recognized with the Lex Frieden Employment Award, which highlights the efforts of employers to hire employees with disabilities,” Kristina said. “We work closely with local vocational rehab programs, and we take accessibility very seriously. We have never had a concern or question related to accessibility issues with our PeopleAdmin platform.”