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Culture & Hiring Transparency Drives Recruiting Efficiency
Thursday, Sep 18, 2014

The primary objective of the Talent Acquisition function within an organization is to align its strategies with the goals of the company it serves. With that in mind, our Talent Acquisition team at Cumming Corporation had a difficult task. We needed to figure out how to provide a better candidate experience while increasing engagement with prospects – and still be more efficient as a recruiting function. Put simply, we needed to communicate more, but spend less time doing so; a seemingly counterproductive concept. In this article, we’ll take a look at 3 important steps we took to not only align ourselves with the needs of our business, but to do the impossible – take less time to communicate more.

Employer Branding

It took almost all of 2013 to brand ourselves as an employer of choice while providing an inside view of the culture within our organization. We did this with little to no budget. Within this strategy, we built an entirely new corporate careers page (www.ccorpcareers.com) focused on who we are, not who we want to be. We then branded our Recruiter LinkedIn profiles, bios, social sites, and various other channels to advertise a consistent message… a message which stated that everyone at Cumming Corporation has the opportunity to make their mark. Team Members have massive opportunity at our firm based on their own talent and success. It’s the lifeblood of our organization.

The recruiting strategy behind this campaign was to allow our story to tell itself. When a company is transparent about their working environment, both good and bad, you will find applicable candidates reaching out and/or applying to your jobs more. Conversely, you’ll find candidates who are not a fit to your organization lessen. This is how you communicate more, but spend less time doing so.

To measure its success or lack thereof, we tracked the ‘quality’ of incoming candidates. For 3 full years prior to this new initiative, Cumming would typically have a quality metric of 15%. This meant that only 15% of all candidates who applied for our jobs were qualified. After only a few months following the implementation of our newly branded messaging, we saw an increase in quality to 18%-20%.

Hiring Process Transparency & Candidate Experience

Our current initiative is all about candidate facing hiring process transparency. First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do. Take the following short story into consideration:

John is highly successful in his career. He works for a smaller, relatively unknown organization and has been there for over 10 years. Over the past 12 months, John has grown frustrated at his job. His role simply isn’t as rewarding as it once was. His family can tell that he’s not entirely happy. After much prodding from his loved ones, John finally takes the leap and puts together a resume. At night, he spends hours scouring through open jobs that are posted online. After all, his company has been good to him over the years so he’s not going to jump for just anything. John finally picks 3 jobs that seem to be a very good fit. He applies. Each day, he waits for the phone call or email asking him to come in for an interview. He starts to get discouraged after not hearing anything for a week so he reaches out to the HR team at these 3 companies. Another week passes. Still nothing. By this time, John has already made up his mind that he’s leaving his current employer so he starts applying to more jobs that may not be the best fit. (story credit: Mark Anderson, https://www.recruiter.com/i/the-dehumanization-of-online-recruiting/)

In this story, John learned the extremely unfortunate lesson that he’s a commodity.  Organizations globally treat candidates as such and unless employers do something about it, our open jobs will also continue to be commoditized. The more we look at humans as just another candidate, the more our career opportunities will be seen as just another job.

When the Talent Acquisition team at Cumming Corporation sat down to solve this issue, we decided that candidates don’t need gift baskets when they interview. Instead, they deserved respect – a clear, concise, communicative, and transparent hiring process where they would be aware of the validity of their candidacy throughout the process. Additionally, we needed to align this initiative with the goals of our organization. So we jumped in…

In the Figure 1, you will find a simple equation to determine revenue loss per week when taking into consideration the length of time a requisition is open. When we looked at the number of open revenue generating requisitions at that time, we determined that the cost to the company was approximately $120,000 for each week those jobs went unfilled.  

What if we figured out a way that we could respect candidates more, communicate more, and also increase our “Speed of Hire”? We did. We have installed an automated response mechanism within our Applicant Tracking System. Not only do candidates receive a communication when they apply to our job (which should be standard protocol for all organizations), but they receive a communication for each and every step they may find themselves in throughout the hiring process. On top of that, we are requiring Recruiters to either reject or follow-up with candidates within 5 business days of the candidate application. We’ve placed timelines on the number of days between a Recruiter phone screen to Hiring Manager submission as well as a Hiring Manager submission to a decision on whether or not to interview. Finally, we shared the exact same process on our careers website blog page to inform potential candidates and we provide a link to our Glassdoor page asking candidates to hold us accountable by writing reviews of their experience.

In the very early stages of this initiative, we’ve seen something startling. Our metric that measures the quality of incoming candidates has jumped in just 2 months from 18% to 25%. Our candidate submitted to candidate interviewed ratio has gone from 50% to 75%. Our time to fill has gone from 37 days to 31 days. To put it simply, we’re being transparent, we’re communicating more, and our recruiting function is much more efficient.

Talent Pools

The final issue to consider is this: What do we do with all of the qualified candidates? You may be thinking, “We have a hard time finding one qualified candidate, why do we need to create a pool of candidates?” I understand, but those who apply are typically aligned to one job – not the numerous jobs that may follow in the future. Let’s look at this at its core. We know that around 20% of the people who apply to our jobs are qualified, but we’ve found that we only hire approximately 2% of those who apply to our jobs. Therefore, 18% of our candidate population (with a database of approx. 30,000 people) needed to be addressed. Further, we needed to find a way to utilize these resources in a manner that aligned to our business needs.

“Talent Communities” are a hot topic in Talent Acquisition today, but that doesn’t mean that they’re used appropriately. We tried it. It didn’t work for us. We didn’t want to and couldn’t accurately pool 5,000 people that may be qualified; we wanted to pool only the top prospects for each of our service lines, project sectors, and geographic regions. In the coming weeks, we’ll doing away with our Talent Community and will instead install specific Talent Pools. Talent Pools are also built into our transparency initiative whereas candidates will be notified that they’re not a match for the job they applied to, but that they are a good match for our organization. Additionally, we will add passive candidates from the likes of LinkedIn to these pools. When these pools are adequately installed, we will start targeted campaigns to the people within each pool. We’ll screen them and interview them just as we would someone applying to an open job.

The goal of this very time consuming initiative is “On Demand Talent.” Once we’ve pooled, communicated with, screened, and interviewed our top prospects within each Talent Pool, we will pipeline them for future opportunities. It’s a difficult endeavor that needs buy-in from multiple parties, but its impact will be considerable when completed.

Closing

All of these initiatives and strategies take time. However, if you want to create a recruiting platform that is forward thinking and more effective than your current operations, they are extremely necessary.

The Human Resources / Talent Acquisition function within an organization can create tremendous value for the company it serves. You can build candidate engagement, increase your recruitment advertising ROI, push time-to-fill down, and increase candidate quality – all while treating your candidates with respect. Simply put, you have the opportunity to do the right thing while driving success at the same time.


Scott Weaver is the Director, Talent Acquisition & Development at Cumming Corporation. 

Culture & Hiring Transparency Drives Recruiting Efficiency  (For Employers)