When your working with a high-profile brand with a public presence, the problem is not getting people to apply for jobs. At #trulondon, Peter Gold spoke of Tesco’s receiving over 1Mn applications via their career site. I’ve seen the same thing with my clients Oracle and the BBC, it’s a different type of problem. The last thing these businesses need is more response, and the higher the volume of applications, the harder it is to provide a good candidate experience. Commonly the solution is to put recruiters behind a wall and cut off accessibility. It’s not that recruiters don’t want to give individual people the attention and response they deserve, there simply isn’t time in the over worked recruiters day. What these recruiters want is not more candidates, but better candidates who are a closer match to their requirements who they can invest time talking to, and developing relationships with. Quality over quantity.
Speaking with recruiting teams, it’s easy to bemoan the lack of engagement and relationship skills. It’s recruiters who are on the front line, and it’s recruiters who have the pressure to make their hires in a double-quick time, and to even more demanding standards from hiring managers. To find the proverbial needle in a haystack. This is against a background of a call for greater candidate care. It’s the recruiter who carry the can for empty seats, and from their point of view, there’s simply never enough hours in the day for the demands of social recruiting. They have to concentrate on hires now, rather than possible hires future.
It’s been blogged and spoken about quite often that the modern recruiter needs to think like a marketer. Most of the emphasis ha perhaps the has been on talent attraction rather than recruiting, and the better you get at talent attraction the more people reply. I have made myself a bit unpopular in the past with the digital media mafia, by stating that actually, perhaps the real need is to get the marketeers to think more like recruiters. I think Bernard Hodes have done this with the Barclays Future leaders programme.
I’ve spoken in the past with Quezzia Soares, who manages the recruitment marketing for Accenture. One of the things they have had to do is to be brutally honest about what their minimum requirements are for Graduates right at the start. This means telling anyone on their welcome pages that if you don’t have 400 UCAS points, there is no point in applying. The companies I work with have high standards of entry. Without getting in to the morals of this argument, it is the standard. I’m a believer in transparency. If you have no chance of getting a job, I don’t want to do anything to encourage you to apply. It’s just not fair to create false hope. I also think that there is nothing wrong with the message “It’s hard to get a job here. You have to be special to get in. We have high standards. Are you special?”
Recent job seeker research indicates that there’s a bit of apathy out there. People are just fed up of investing time in job applications where they are not going to get beyond the ATS. The jobs they apply for, and despite unemployment applications per person are right down, are those they feel they have a good chance of getting. This means rethinking how many jobs are presented. We’ve spent so much time presenting jobs to sell them, working on marketing copy and branding, that the requirement is buried so deep in the copy it gets lost. Better to put your requirements front and center, it might even raise the flow of qualified applications, while turning off those who don’t fit the bill.
About 6 months ago I was speaking with Andy Hyatt, Digital Director of Bernard Hodes, and he told me about the work he was doing with colleague Steven Lo’Presti for the graduate recruitment at bankers Barclay’s. The plan was to launch a social media hub within their future leaders career site, to encourage on-going engagement between the graduate intake of recent years, and potential new hires. I’ve been watching the site closely since it’s launch since the middle of last year. It’s less of a career site, and more of a communication center, there’s also an i-phone app with many of the features converted for mobile, and a full mobile site with browser sniffer on entry. All the features a modern career site needs,
When you land on the site from the outside world, you land at The Hub.The Barclay’s Graduate program is titled: “Future Leaders” and the by=line that sums up the site is: “See More.Be More.” It’s in an easy on the eye corporate blue, and very easy to navigate. The tabs at the top link to the The Graduate Programme, Undergraduate Programme, School Leaver Programme, School Leaver Programme, Events and Applying To Barclay’s. The applying tab explains the process in detail, with a very clear, “What we look for” section. The text at the start reads:
“There are no two ways about it. We have immensely high expectations of everyone who makes it onto the FLDP; and we’re looking for people who can bear the weight of those expectations. In other words, you’ll need ambition and vision every bit as big as ours from the outset.
It perhaps goes without saying that your academic record will be of the highest order (a 2:1 or above and 300 UCAS points to be precise), but becoming one of our future leaders is as much about your employability. Besides a strong academic record and work experience, you’ll need to demonstrate your involvement in extra-curricular activities.”
For me, this is clear and transparent, and like Accenture is saying if you don’t have the UCAS points there is no need to apply. It’s hard to get a job here.but if you get one, it’s going to be great. Think about what it is saying if you get an interview, it’s saying, OK, we think you could be special.
The individual career type tabs each feature a programme overview, and individual department tabs. Behind the departments are a few features I really like is being able to see individual profiles of the recent intake, and the opportunity to shadow them by connecting on LinkedIn or following on twitter, and there’s similar people to connect with behind every department, as well as blogs to follow. Simple but effective peer-to-peer employer branding.
Behind the events tab there’s a “play more” feature, with a game and leader-board, with an opportunity to win tickets to the ATP Grand Slam, based on taking part in an actual game when Barclay’s visit target universities as part of the milkround. I really like activities that link the virtual world with in person recruiting. I’m a big believer that social is physical as well as virtual. Another great initiative like this is labeled “Smile More.” This features some really cool pictures from the campus events, shot in black and white. When the pictures are taken, the students get invited to check back in to the site to view them, reconnecting them with the hiring hub.
Video’s feature throughout the site, with the opportunity to see the people, get video tips on the assessment process and a whole lot more. Visitors can also sign up for the video channel, that features 44 different videos, in multiple places on the site including the landing page and hub, as well as the Facebook page and Twitter feed. Theres also news feeds and twitter feeds in the hub and on the landing page.
Theres a register or log in section which takes you to a micro-site for the division you choose, and an apply button that links you in to the ATS, which is where the social bit ends. Theres no means of exporting detail from LinkedIn or other social profiles. Given that the hub is very social, I’d expect the application to be a bit easier. All details need to be entered, and it takes 16 clicks to get to apply. The jobs behind the application are easy to navigate, without lengthy job specs to wade through. All the information needed to choose which job is available in lots of different formats according to the visitors choice, so there’s no need for the long-winded spec.
The easy registration means that Barclay’s can capture data and operate a talent network, connecting over relevent content. Whilst I’d prefer this to be via a social registration, it’s a small detail. Everything else on the site is brilliant.
So what has this meant in terms of numbers?
> Overall, the campaign has performed well, attracting just over 355,000 visitors to the site since it was re-launched in September 2011– an increase of 51% over last year, who viewed over 1.6 million pages – an increase of 75%. And this without an increase in advertising budget.
>Social media has played a big part in this success: at the time of writing the Twitter channel has picked up just over 470 followers – 477 to be precise, and the Facebook page has been liked by 510 users. The YouTube channel used to serve video content has generated over 17,100 views while the QR codes were scanned over 680 times. And these numbers are rising steadily week on week.
>The visitors that interact with The Hub, have also proven to be more engaged with the site – proving that social content can attract and retain visitors over paid advertising: they are more likely to stay after viewing the first page (15.9% bounce rate vs. 25.8%), stay for longer on the site (9’ vs. 3’51”), and view, on average, twice as many pages per visit (10.05 vs. 5.01).
> Visits to the site have increased by 51%, applications have decreased by 40% over last year. At first this might seem worrying if not for the fact that the conversion rate between assessment and hire increased by 55%. Ultimate proof that targeted and relevant content can deliver better quality candidates who are also more likely to get hired.
I started this post talking about the need for big brand corporates have to reduce the volume of applications, whilst increasing the quality. What Barclay’s and Bernard Hodes have proved through this case study is that while it might take a bit of work, and you need to enlist the brand advocates from the business to do the engagement and connect with interested people from the target audience. The games run on university visits, leader board and photo features gives the students met on campus a reason to connect with the site and register. The social networking clearly drove traffic to the site without any additional spend.
Clarity of the standard required cuts out the many applications that this type of campaign would normally attract don’t apply. Sharing values, job content, peer-to-peer communication and clear job detail leads to people deselecting themselves from the process, avoiding wasted recruiter time.
Hyatt also commented that the feedback from the recruiters was that those who got through selection were totally committed and much more informed about the opportunity, which explains the significant improvement in the conversion rate. Supporting the candidate with information on resources on the selection and assessment process, greatly improves the candidate experience, and removes the risk of good candidates missing out by making errors in the process. For recruiters, only seeing committed and qualified candidates has to make their job better. It’s not just the candidate experience we need to be thinking about, it’s also the recruiter experience that gets improved by an engaged process.
I want to thank Andy Hyatt and Steven LoPresti of Bernard Hodes for bringing this story to #trulondon, and giving me access to the data for this post. It’s a great story. It is my intention to include at least 6 case studys at each #tru event moving forward, and will be inviting Andy Hyatt out to #truStockholm next month.