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How UCSF Created a Candidate Experience that Feels Like the Ritz

What do stellar candidate experiences and seamless implementations have in common with the Ritz Carlton? To find out, we sat down with Jay Budner, Executive Director of Strategic Talent Development at UCSF, to discuss why a white glove approach makes or breaks these two important critical components to your hiring experience.

During the course of our conversation, Jay shared what he loved most during his Lever implementation — and how he’s been able to revamp the candidate experience at UCSF in a way that shocked even our own Leveroos.

Here are the top moments from that chat and how a recruiting software implementation can be a gateway to a transformation of an entire organization’s approach to candidate experience.

Building the Case for a New Recruiting Platform

Rewind three and a half years ago, when Jay Budner started his first day at UCSF. Excited to take on his next change after time spent consulting and at Columbia University, he was optimistic to revamp the organization.

But he had to tread lightly. After all, UCSF is a government institution where breaking policy or old habits is not exactly an easy thing to do. Over time, Jay was able to build the case to invest in a better recruiting platform. He argued one simple point to the executive team: “I’m not interested in breaking policy if it breaks the law, but if breaking policy fuels a business need, I’m all for it.”

And with that and one of many failed candidate experiences left behind, he went on to implement Lever. “IT was the biggest hurdle to overcome internally due to the giant organization that goes into running UCSF,” Jay explained.

This public institution is now recognized as the fourth most reputable fundraising organizations in the country having launched a $5B campaign, and last year raised over $1.2B in one fiscal year. Attracting and retaining top talent is a key factor to the success UCSF has seen in the past three years.

The Benefits of a Better Candidate Experience

A better candidate experience has many obvious benefits, but Jay and his team at UCSF saw a few that enabled them to raise the bar on their candidate experience.

#1. Web Presence

Lever allows UCSF to focus on their web presence, making it more user friendly and pull together multiple teams through a seamless recruiting platform and product. “If we have one candidate reach out inquiring about where they are in the recruiting process, then we’ve failed as an organization,” says Jay. Post implementation, UCSF now sees a 95% approval rate to hire, along with funneling the right candidates to the right roles, at the click of a button.

#2. Collaborative Recruiting

“Before Lever, it was a lot like herding cats to get people to leave feedback,” says Jay. Now, he can manage the entire recruitment process with just a few keystrokes, and with limited resources.

“I wanted people to feel like they were checking into the Ritz Hotel when they came to interview at UCSF,” says Jay. Hence, his mission began to ensure everyone was a part of the process every step of the way. Jay and his team are now able to show workers what goes into the entire recruiting process and even eliminate unnecessary recruiting headcount for the organization. Hiring managers are kept much more accountable through a streamlined process.

#3. Leadership Visibility

Jay implemented leadership trainings to ensure that interview guidelines are followed and hiring managers get one-on-one time to improve their recruiting processes at least once per year. And attracting a diverse team has fueled diversity of thought throughout the organization. Ensuring leadership has visibility for all recruiting metrics and workflows keeps leaders accountable to make UCSF the great institution that it is today.

The Results of a Flawless Candidate Process

In one year (2018), Jay’s team at UCSF reached out to, or touched, 620 candidates; 350 of those were in person and 178 via interview panels. Lever aggregated 450 data points and feedback gathered regarding top talent in a streamlined and optimized way. He never would have been able to do this on his own without a system to automate this whole process for him. There would have been more candidates left behind on the quest of hitting UCSF's hiring goals.

Jay sees this success as part of every strategic talent leaders’ job within an organization. “If you can remove roadblocks and bureaucracy to make organizations better, you should be the one to lead that charge within your organization,” says Jay.

It’s only in doing so that talent leaders can be embedded in the entire company, and one and the same with HR. “Not many understand the impact they are making, but having smart platforms in place that enable you to do that can make all the difference to becoming a rising talent leader at your company,” says Jay. “And if you’re lucky, you can experience the joy of having a candidate experience that feels like a fancy hotel too.”

To learn more to creating a better candidate experience, download our Streamline the Interview Guide to make improvements to your process and recruiting workflows.

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