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Human Resources

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POLICY PLAN ADDRESSING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF OPEN, TRANSPARENT, MERIT-BASED RECRUITMENT PRINCIPLES IN UHASSELT HR PROCEDURES

Open & Transparant recruitment

Hasselt University emphasises the importance of open and transparent recruitment, with the primary objective of attracting and selecting the right talent for vacant positions, by conducting surveys of the internal and external labour market both nationally and internationally as far as possible. To this end, targeted online recruitment channels are used as much use as possible. In consultation with the Staff Office, the right online recruitment mix is determined in order to reach the appropriate target group for the vacancy in question as effectively as possible. With a view to reaching international candidates, systematic use is made of channels such as Euraxess and academicpositions.eu. Through the feedback received from international applicants and the evaluation of the influx of international candidates, UHasselt plans to continue monitoring international candidates and to take appropriate actions through benchmarking with other universities.

Reduce administrative workload

To reduce the administrative workload for applicants, an online application tool called ‘Vacancy Management’ was introduced at Hasselt University in 2012. This online tool makes the application process more accessible for applicants and allows them to follow the progress of their application remotely. This tool also enables the Staff Office and the designated members of the selection committee to follow applicants’ dossiers accurately and in good time and to inform them by email of the status of their application. Various optimisations have been implemented over the years to increase the system’s ease of use and accessibility in response to internal and external feedback. The aim of this is to minimise the administrative burden for the applicant.

When an applicant has created a profile within the e-recruitment tool Vacancy Management, and has added his/her mandatory documents (e.g. diplomas and certificates), this profile is saved. This means that he/she will not have to provide this information again for a subsequent application, and can apply more easily and quickly.

Support and feedback

The recruitment and selection team manages a general mailbox jobs@uhasselt.be where candidates can ask additional questions by email. Candidates are also kept informed in this way of the further course of the selection process and receive invitations to interviews and psychological tests/assessment centres and feedback on their application. Exploratory interviews with international applicants are held as far as possible via Skype, to avoid unnecessary long-distance travel and expenses for the applicants concerned.

An up-to-date overview of administrative/technical and academic vacancies can always be found on the Hasselt University website. Applicants can always go there for information about the entire selection process, the planned steps/selection components; as far as possible, an indication of timing is given in the vacancy. Applicants will also find more information about employment conditions, job classifications, training opportunities, career policy and staff benefits.

The text of the vacancy also contains the contact details of the direct manager for the vacant position, to give applicants the opportunity to obtain prior information about the position, team, work location, career opportunities, etc. Throughout the selection procedure, applicants can also contact the recruitment and selection team at any time if something is unclear or they have questions.

A further point of action is the continued optimisation and expansion of the information on the vacancy website regarding, for example, the following points:

  • when a qualification must have been obtained,
  • what the language requirements are,
  • the fact that relevant experience can be taken into account and recognised,
  • the maximum term for this specific appointment,
  • the objectives of an appointment (e.g. PhD scholarship holders, what the position is like).

Merit-based recruitment

By formalising and structuring the recruitment and selection process, the intention is to bring the quality standards within all faculties and services to the same level, using the OTM-R principles as a yardstick and target. One important point here is that academic knowledge and research experience should not be the only decisive factors in the recruitment of academic staff. In addition to knowledge and experience, behavioural skills (competencies), ambitions, motivators, etc. should also be taken into account when evaluating candidates. The OTM-R principles provide the necessary guidance throughout the recruitment and selection process, as well as ensuring that unnecessary barriers are not created, for example, by setting unrealistically high demands.

Quality control & monitoring

The recruitment & selection team within the Hasselt University Staff Office provides support and ensures continuous quality control in the drafting of clear vacancy texts with the intention of reaching the right talent for the vacancy and encouraging it to apply. This is necessary in view of the importance attached to employer branding and attracting and retaining talent, and the even greater role such things will play in the future given the ongoing war for talent. For this reason, the necessary background information about the organisation, faculty and/or office is also always shown in the vacancy text.

UHasselt uses the Flemish Government’s competency guide to take the critical competencies for the job into account at the time of writing the vacancy text, so that these can then be assessed during the various stages of the selection process. The recruitment and selection team offers the necessary support to the various faculties and offices in this context. The objective is, as well as providing a clear description of the position’s range of tasks and responsibilities and of the required qualification and experience, to also indicate to the applicant what competencies Hasselt University is looking for in connection with a specific position. Competency-oriented vacancy texts ensure that both employer and employee can assess more accurately whether a particular vacancy is consistent with their expectations, ambitions and talents.

Hasselt University’s Staff Office has already created a number of opportunities in the past in the form of workshops with the aim of training academic staff who are involved in the recruitment and selection process, among other things in determining competencies and criterion-oriented interviewing. In the future, the Staff Office wishes to continue focusing on the regular and systematic provision of training opportunities, taking particular account of the OTM-R principles; it plans to do this every two years.

The systematic provision of information about the OTM-R principles is an important action point for the future. In the first phase, the selection procedures (including composition of selection committees, attention for gender within the committee) will be published for each staff status. In the second phase, all existing procedures (status regulations for independent academic staff and assistant academic staff, RAS) will be screened on the basis of the OTM-R criteria, adapted and published on the website.

The current selection form template allows for the application of most OTM-R principles. A point of action is the compilation of an OTM-R selection guide with tips and points for attention that the members of selection committees can easily consult.

Hasselt University has set out the course of the selection procedure for the recruitment of academic staff in a series of regulations concerning academic staff. These are available to all staff via the University’s intranet. The guidelines on the composition of the selection committee are also provided there.

Hasselt intends to make more use of the European Framework for Research Careers in the future by, among other things, integrating the four career profiles within our vacancy management tool ‘Vacancy Management’. At the moment, the allocation of competencies is mainly done on an individual, ad hoc basis within a faculty or office. In future, Hasselt has set the objective of drawing up standardised competency profiles for each career profile, and including these via a vacancy template in ‘Vacancy Management’ so that the OTM-R principles can be followed when inputting vacancies. This should make it clear from the start what competencies, knowledge and experience are required and desired.

The current quality control system consists firstly of the mandatory use of defined templates and secondly of the critical reviewing of the selection reports by the Staff Office. This is mentioned in Hasselt University’s OTM-R policy to ensure that this guarantee is clear to applicants.

At present, the recruitment and selection team at Hasselt’s Staff Office acts as a first and direct point of contact for applicants if they have complaints and/or wish to obtain feedback about the state of progress and/or not whether or not their application has been successful. As a point of action, the feedback and complaints procedure should be clearly mentioned on the website.

It is already possible to retrieve a lot of data from the Vacancy Management tool with a view to monitoring, reporting and evaluation. We propose it as an action point that this should be extended further in future in collaboration with the Information Office at Hasselt University, so that the main indicators concerning recruitment and selection can be systematically mapped with a view to detecting trends and developments and  further optimising our approach accordingly.

On this basis, Hasselt University wishes to set objectives for the elements that are important for good international recruitment; every year, a report will be submitted to the Board of Deans with an analysis of the trends in the defined indicators.