CUPA-HR stands for the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources and serves as a platform for HR professionals in higher education. CUPA-HR hosts an annual conference that caters to these Human Resource professionals who represent colleges, universities and various institutions. This year’s event focused primarily on the establishment of connections between Human Resource professionals from around the country. This platform allows for people in the field of HR to discuss different themes and issues that occur within their institutions.
Lucky for me, I was able to observe these topics by taking part in this year’s CUPA-HR conference in San Antonio provided by Riviera Advisors’ Managing Principal, Jeremy Eskenazi. As a Talent Acquisition Analyst intern for Riviera Advisors, one of the best things I get to do is attend many conferences that focus on current issues and topics in Human Resources. Many of these conferences promote the exchange of ideas between HR professionals from across the United States. Along with the SHRM Annual Conference, the California HR Conference, and now CUPA-HR, I have gained a ton of exposure to new insights, ideas, and issues that pertain to Human Resources.
During the CUPA-HR conference, I noticed many themes as it related to Higher Education and HR. Since Riviera Advisors had a booth where attendees could visit, I was able to speak to Human Resource professionals from various institutions. We at Riviera Advisors asked each participant to express their biggest concern, issue or challenge that their institution faced in regards to HR. From recruiters, HR directors to graduate students, I was able to receive information from different perspectives. Despite the different opinions that were expressed, it was apparent that each individual had the desire to see their institution reach new heights.
Lack of Diversity
One of the recurring themes that persisted amongst our attendees was the issue of diversity in the workforce. Many HR professionals expressed difficulties in recruiting and interviewing candidates from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. They were also not aware on the methods for sourcing candidates from minority groups.
One individual expressed to me that her HR team was having a difficult time recruiting diverse candidates because of the isolated location of her institution. The geography of her university prevented her team from recruiting the diversified talent that she desired. Although her institution was well established and known around the country, it was still very difficult for her to find a diverse talent pool that fit the needs of her campus.
This theme appeared to be the number one issue that many of the participants experienced. Despite this being a common setback, it was evident to me that institutions are striving to reach out to a diverse talent pool. Most wanted to acquire individuals from different backgrounds and to expand the horizons of the administrative staff. I believe that this is a great first step in the progression of an HR team. I was glad to see the desire to strive towards a more accurate representation of our country. Having individuals from different backgrounds and upbringing can only move an institution forward by allowing new ideas and concepts to flourish.
Other CUPA-HR attendees expressed a desire to improve their recruitment strategy. One HR director mentioned that her team was having a hard time recruiting for her administrative staff due to attrition. The staff at her particular institution had employees who had been with the campus for years. Now that they are retiring, it was hard for them to begin looking for new talent to replace these individuals.
Other colleges expressed the need to lower recruitment costs. One individual told me that she felt that her recruitment team did not have the best method of recruiting candidates at the lowest possible cost. She expressed this concern as a major challenge in her organization, which was not properly strategized by her team.
The CUPA-HR conference was particularly informative for me because I was able to view the current issues within HR in Higher Education. As a university student and as a Talent Acquisition Analyst Intern, I was able to understand and comprehend the different processes that occur at these institutions. This experience has allowed me to gain a whole new respect for Human Resource professionals who work in Higher Education.
By interning at Riviera Advisors, I have learned that in order for an HR team to recruit top talent, then individuals involved must set and manage expectations! Setting and managing expectations are especially important in recruiting desirable candidates. Whether it is to fill empty positions, or to tap into a new talent pool, hiring managers and recruiters must set expectations on what type of candidates they desire in order to fill their expectations.