Founded in 2000, the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC) began as a means to connect colleges and universities in northern California that were struggling with the same recruitment challenge — hiring and retaining dual-career couples — to share best practices, says HERC Founder and Executive Director Nancy Abersold.
“When we surveyed faculty whom we were hoping to hire but who didn’t accept our offers, we found that their number one reason for declining [positions] was that we were unable to find job opportunities for their spouses and partners,” says Abersold, who, at that time, worked at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). “It became clear that in order to really find meaningful job opportunities [for spouses and partners], especially in higher education, we were going to have to partner with our sister institutions.”
Together with 17 other colleges and universities in northern California, UCSC formed HERC in order to help such couples find desirable jobs within commutable distances of each other.
Today, the organization has 18 regional chapters and more than 700 member institutions, 5,000 individual members, and dozens of corporate and nonprofit partners across the U.S.
As an added benefit to its members, HERC offers professional development opportunities for both employers and job seekers. Annual conferences, as well as monthly webinars on topics such as transgender issues in the workplace and bias in the hiring process, provide unique opportunities for professionals and organizations to connect and learn about best practices for recruiting, hiring, and retaining dual-career couples and minority candidates.
“It’s important for our member institutions to see and understand what their peer institutions are doing to advance areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Abersold says.
She believes HERC’s ability to facilitate connections between individual institutions and between job seekers and potential employers is what makes the organization unique. Whether she’s traveling to conferences or doing outreach for HERC, Abersold says it’s not uncommon that she meet dual-career couples who were able to find satisfying jobs close to one another through the organization.
“HERC,” she says, “has been able to provide these connections and have a real impact on higher education recruiting, as well as on job seekers and their families.”●
Mariah Bohanon is a senior staff writer for INSIGHT Into Diversity. For more information, visit hercjobs.org.