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UConn gains approval to simplify clerical hiring
December 15, 1997

The often lengthy process of hiring a secretary just became a lot simpler.

Under a new agreement with the state, the University can hire in a classified position without a state exam, promote an individual within the job series without an exam, and reclassify classified positions without first seeking approval from the Department of Administrative Services (DAS).

"This lets us manage our classified workforce much more efficiently," says Virginia Miller, assistant vice chancellor for human resources."It permits greater flexibility, greater responsiveness to developing needs, and provides many more options. We will now be able to grow our own clerical workforce."

Miller credits Barbara Proulx, associate director of human resources, and Aliza Wilder, manager of the classification and compensation unit, and their staffs, for securing the new authority.

The changes will particularly affect clerical jobs. Decentralized classification, however, affects all classified positions. There are about 600 clerical jobs at UConn, among a total of more than 1,800 classified positions.

Effective Dec. 1, the University can fill clerical positions without a state exam and without having to wait for a list of successful test takers.

"The test was not a predictor of success on job," says Miller."Now we can review applicants' past experience, conduct an interview; and quickly assess their skills as they begin work. We find out very quickly during the six-month probationary period whether people can do the duties of the job satisfactorily."

UConn can also now promote individuals within the job series as they assume higher level responsibilities, without requiring an exam.

In the past, the University sometimes had to wait for up to a year for a state exam to move a person to the appropriate level. And, under the old system, even if a person did excellent work on the job, if their performance on the exam was not ranked at the very top of the list, promotion would be difficult."Someone might work very well but be ranked seventh on the state list and we would never be able to move that person up," says Miller.

"Our employees now have tremendously increased opportunities for timely upward mobility," she adds.

In addition, UConn has received approval for a decentralized system of classifying positions. In the past, the University had to request permission from DAS to change a position from one level to another.

Miller says that waits of six to 10 months were routine and it could take up to two years to get a job reclassified and an individual hired. That has changed. Once a person is working above the current job level to which they are assigned, we can move them up, following the normal audit process," she says.

The reclassification is now based on the job audit alone, instead of a state exam and a list."It allows us to assign work on as-needed basis," Miller says.

There are numerous clerical job searches currently underway and 76 people (in both classified and nonclassified positions) waiting for job audits. Miller says search activity, classification, and reorganization are all at an exceptionally high level because of the early retirement program."This change will help."

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu