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Hiring the talent that keeps the nation’s largest county running

CLOUD: Azure

“DHR’s mission is to attract a talented, diverse and engaged workforce for one of the world’s most populous counties. Databricks has allowed us to leverage all our data to develop interactive dashboards that have transformed our ability to hire and retain the talent needed to run our amazing county.”

— Roozan Zarifian, Chief Information Officer at Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources

Los Angeles County is one of the largest employers in the nation, and the mission of its Department of Human Resources (DHR) is to serve as the talent backbone that supports an ever-growing range of public services for over 10 million residents. However, managing a hiring process on this scale with legacy siloed data systems limited the department’s visibility into its pool of candidates and created bottlenecks within the hiring process. As a result, they discovered, it took an average of 384 days to hire a candidate, but they had no idea why or how to fix it. With Databricks Data Intelligence Platform on the Azure Cloud, DHR was able to democratize all of their candidates and hiring data countywide — providing them with the insights to streamline their hiring practices while lowering operational costs. With the right data at their fingertips, they can now be more competitive in hiring and retaining a diverse workforce passionate about public service.

The challenges of staffing the most populous county in the U.S.

With over 112,000 employees, Los Angeles County is one the largest employers in the country, and accordingly, its Department of Human Resources (DHR) is always inundated with hiring and people management issues. To ensure the county’s 10 million residents have access to the services they need to live comfortable and stable lives, the department processes upwards of 400,000 job applications each year in an effort to provide the level of staffing needed to support those residents. The sheer volume of applicants makes a hiring process of this scale incredibly complex and costly. Furthermore, institutional bottlenecks created inconsistencies in that process, as well as in following civil service rules and matching the best candidates for hard-to-fill positions.

From a technology standpoint, DHR was hamstrung by data silos and manual processes for collecting and analyzing data. These operational shortcomings impacted the department’s ability to collaborate and make informed decisions, causing huge blind spots that drove massive delays throughout the hiring process but leaving DHR without an understanding of how to resolve them.

“We knew that it took us a really long time to fill a county job, but we really didn’t know why or how, or what we even needed to change that,” explained Roozan Zarifian, Chief Information Officer at the Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources. “Without having the right tools to unify our data, it was impossible to make sense of anything at all. You can’t run a business that way, and certainly not in one of the largest counties in the country.”

With proper people management being the core of any type of success in government, LA County’s DHR knew it was time for a modern infrastructure that would allow them to unify all of their data in a centralized lakehouse and execute against the resulting insights to make more efficient and intelligent talent management decisions.

Democratizing data and insights to ensure better services for its citizens

To overcome its data challenges, DHR, in partnership with the Internal Services Department (ISD), brought in Azure Databricks. The benefits were felt immediately. Before LA County overhauled the technology fueling its hiring process, the average time to hire was 384 days. By standardizing on a lakehouse architecture, DHR was able to bring together its diverse volumes of data into a single unified platform and serve insights through various interactive dashboards focused on hiring benchmarks and where slowdowns are occurring in the hiring process.

“We want to gain insights about not only our candidates but also where our process bottlenecks exist so we can more efficiently attract and retain a diverse and talented workforce,” Zarifian said.

DHR quickly began implementing automated digital solutions for their hiring workflows, as well as other various lines of businesses, in order to begin collecting data the right way across the organization. With the Databricks Data Intelligence Platform in place, DHR has been able to democratize all of its data across various internal and partner sources, from ERP systems to candidate databases, and gain a clearer picture of where bottlenecks are occurring and how to mitigate them to accelerate the hiring of top talent across the county.

Collaboration within DHR has also improved thanks to a unified view of their people data and optimization of hiring processes. Now, the department is easily able to quickly share its wealth of data knowledge with other departments and teams within the county and with key partners. This includes specific dashboards for different groups, like executives, HR resources, hiring teams, and more. “We all need to look at hiring processes from a different angle,” said Zarifian. “Databricks Data Intelligence Platform makes it possible to do that because the data is consistent, which makes the conversations around it easy and efficient. This has been the primary driver for our shift to mobility, particularly during the pandemic, which has been essential to our success.”

Majida Adnan, IT Division Manager, General Government Systems Division, LA County ISD, added that Databricks Data Intelligence Platform has also improved overall productivity through easier access to the data itself. “Before Databricks, we were often trying to sift through at least seven different data sources at any given time,” she said. “Now we have a centralized view of all our data, boosting productivity and operational efficiency.”

A hiring practice that can stand up to the competition

With Databricks, LA County’s DHR now gets to enjoy faster, more efficient business operations, which lowered the total cost of ownership. The ingestion of data for downstream analytics used to take weeks. Now data pipelines can be built and start feeding reports and BI dashboards in 10 minutes or less, lending the department the high-level view they needed for proper insight into hiring bottlenecks and how to resolve them.

“The democratization of data has transformed our ability to hire with purpose and efficiency. We can see everything, from how long it takes to hire employees and how long it takes to fill vacancies. We’re also able to see how efficient we are in each step of the process,” said Zarifian. “We know where the candidates are coming from, and which sources yield the best candidates. We can also tell where in the process we are losing candidates. This unprecedented level of visibility has transformed the way we run our staffing processes and has enabled us to hire and retain top talent.”

All in all, Databricks has assisted DHR in revamping their HR processes in a significant way, connecting business units for better decision-making, resulting in the county being able to better compete with public, private and nonprofit organizations in the race to hire top talent. With Databricks Data Intelligence Platform as LA County’s foundation for data-driven people management, the residents of LA County can rest assured they’ll always have access to the best people dedicated to providing the daily services they require.