Minnesota carves e-recruiting path

Minnesota Department of Employee Relations

It used to be a painstaking process for Minnesota's employee relations department to field several thousand resumes a year, sort through applicants' education, experience and skills for more than 100 state agencies, and hire qualified workers. Filling a vacancy took nearly four months on average.

But since 1995, the department has created an automated recruiting and hiring platform by customizing a version of a Yahoo! Resumix Inc. product, upgrading it and integrating it with a Monster.com-like application developed by Ashburn, Va.-based HRWorX LLC for jobseekers.

The system streamlines costs, labor and time so the most qualified applicant is chosen in the fairest manner, said Cheri Hanson, the department's staffing supervisor. Now, instead of the 105 to 110 days it took to hire an individual several years ago, the state on average hires someone within 41 days of getting that person's resume, she said. Searches for qualified applicants take 20-30 minutes instead of hours.

The state, of course, still accepts paper resumes. But nowadays 80 percent of resumes — or 2,800 to 3,200 a month — are submitted online to the state, which maintains a database of 55,000 applicants, a fifth of whom are state employees seeking promotions, she said.

"There is nothing out there like this," Hanson said, adding that Minnesota may have the most comprehensive recruitment system among state governments.

Additionally, job seekers can register, post resumes and tailor searches based on the kinds of jobs, agencies or salaries they're seeking. They can also be alerted via e-mail to potential government openings. As a result, the state has significantly reduced its advertising costs, she said.

Hanson said even those who submitted a paper resume and don't have Internet access can call a job information phone line to submit supplemental information, such as their work preferences, directly into the Resumix system.

Software that provides greater discipline in recruiting helps fill job openings faster and saves money in the long run, especially now that organizations are receiving a greater volume of resumes than before because of the current economy, said Tim Villanueva, vice president and general manager of Resumix.

Acquired by Yahoo! last year, Resumix started 15 years ago, Villanueva said. In addition to numerous corporate clients, the company's public sector clients include 13 federal agencies, 13 state and local governments and a significant number of government contractors, he said, adding the company this spring launched a next generation product.

Villanueva said the company, which also provides consulting services, doesn't sell the product as a magic solution for hiring the most qualified candidates, but emphasizes the combination of people, processes and technology as key to any successful operation. The cost of processing resumes is dramatically reduced by 80 percent to 90 percent, he said.

With Resumix, the entire hiring process is automatically tracked and routed within an organization through the Web to all parties involved. Once a requisition for a new opening is approved, a recruiter is measured on time and cost to fill it. The opening can be posted on internal and external job boards, but most customers create a large candidate database from which they can choose. Accountability and communication between recruiters and an agency's hiring manager are also improved.

Using search and extraction technology, recruiters can find matches based on skills and background, he said. Sophisticated artificial intelligence enables users to search for specific skill sets without getting numerous false matches.

For example, Villanueva said if users input "ADA dentist" then they would get candidates who specialize in dentistry. The program can distinguish "ADA," which in this case stands for the American Dental Association, from the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Ada, a high-level computer programming language, he said. Minnesota's Hanson said local grammar can also be added to the search engine.

The program can also be objective, meaning all resumes get equal consideration. In the past, recruiters that flipped through resumes manually may not have given the last resume in the pile the same consideration as the first one viewed, she said.

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