by Ethan Paquet
The University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs as well as professional development courses and certificate programs designed to address the needs of working professionals at all stages of their careers.
There are about 1,200 employees on staff, including student employees, staff, and faculty, ranging in age from 18 to 70, says Virginia Wickstrom, Manager of UPEI Human Resources.
“Positions range from senior management to professors, administrative assistants, lab technicians, programmer analysts, animal care technicians, utility and facilities management, and service workers.”
Most positions are permanent, and most staff have long careers with UPEI. “Salaries range from $16 to $47 per hour and include one of the most robust benefits packages in the province,” says Virginia.
“A very comprehensive benefits package is available to permanent and term staff and faculty. Benefits include a defined benefit pension plan, life insurance, supplemental health and dental, employee family and assistance program, travel insurance, and RRSP matching.”
While some might assume there are fewer opportunities in the summer, Virginia says UPEI has been hiring year-round for staff, student and faculty positions.
“Our hiring needs are ongoing, and we are regularly hiring in all areas. Our most difficult positions to fill include medical lab technicians and programmer analysts. On occasion, a Red Seal tradesperson in some specialized trades can be challenging to recruit.”
When considering applicants, UPEI first looks at internal candidates before broadening the search to the general public. Open positions are posted on UPEI’s website, where people can also sign up to receive notifications when new jobs are posted.
“The best way to get your foot in the door is to apply for posted positions that you believe you are qualified for. Submit an application, a cover letter, and resumé online. Our hiring committee screens applicants against the job requirements listed on the job posting and develops a shortlist of candidates. Only those applicants who are invited to an interview will be contacted.
“Candidates looking to make the shortlist and stand out from their competition should tailor their cover letter and resumé to the job they are applying for,” says Virginia.
“We often see people make the grave error of submitting a cover letter and resumé which is very general and does not reflect the requirements of the job they are applying for. The hiring committee looks to hire people who are accurate and pay attention to detail, and when that is missed, applicants may be screened out.”
Those interested in applying but who are unsure of whether they are qualified for a position should consider if they have transferrable skills that may meet the requirements for the position. If they do, they should apply.
“Often, applicants may not have the exact experience the position calls for but may have transferrable skills that would support or be consistent with the position they are applying for. You want to be able to tell your very best story, sell yourself, and show how you best meet the requirements for the job.”
The hiring committee typically consists of a hiring manager, other administrators in the hiring department, and the human resources staffing officer. The hiring process can take up to three weeks to complete, from posting to appointment.
In some competitions, in addition to the interview, there may also be testing. The top candidate is contacted directly, and other individuals who are interviewed but not selected will receive a written confirmation of the competition outcome, Virginia says.
“Training and orientation are provided by the hiring department. The university also offers access to professional development funding to assist employees in their ongoing development. For permanent positions, there is a probation period.”
As the academic year begins, there are different options for students looking for work. “In our academic departments, there may be a need for upward of 50 to 75 lab assistants, markers, and other positions. Our athletics department has an ongoing need and is probably one of our larger hiring bodies for students.” For student positions, salaries range from $13 to $23 per hour.