Rachel Robins |

At the In-House Recruitment Network breakfast event for Recruitment and HR professionals we discussed #rectech and how best to approach planning and implementing a successful recruitment strategy. There were a mix of delegates who either had an ATS, were planning to change their ATS or had no system at all and were starting out on the e-recruitment journey.

The morning opened with a summary of how technology continues to revolutionise the recruitment world and whilst the benefits are plain to see, the cost of getting it wrong can be catastrophic.

To start the day, all delegates wrote down what they wanted to get from the day – something we would revisit later that morning!

Here is a round-up of the presentations we heard throughout the morning.

When an ATS is no longer fit for purpose

We heard from Laura Purvis, Recruitment Manager at Hollywood Bowl Group who shared how they recognised their existing ATS was no longer fit for purpose and how they evaluated what they would need to future proof for group growth. As part of stakeholder buy-in, they held focus groups with Centre Managers and the Recruitment Team to document the issues and what they would need to support the recruitment strategy. They mapped out their requirements to develop a clear brief.

Their existing ATS had not grown with the business, the candidate experience was long and disjointed and their target audience would not be engaged by this - they want a quick application processes so they can apply ‘on the go’ from a mobile phone. There was no integration to the HR/Payroll system and any changes they required to their existing system incurred development costs! Feedback from managers was that the workflows were unclear and that you couldn’t see clearly where candidates were at in the process. The list went on.

Laura presented how they evaluated and chose a complete e-recruitment system to support the whole recruitment journey that would be seamlessly integrated into their careers site.

A few of the key wins/learns that Laura shared were:

  • Be honest about what is/isn’t working and seek the view of the wider team.
  • If you are looking for a software solution – check it allows you to build your own workflows, application forms, email and SMS templates. It has to work for you.
  • Consider the user experience for both hiring managers and candidates.
  • Know your target segmentation so you can deliver recruitment campaigns by role and also work on passive candidates.
  • The new customisable dashboards allow Hollywood Bowl to drill down on activity and results to become smarter at what they do.
  • On ‘Go Live’ they received 5000 applicants for the first advertised roles! In 3 months over 22,000 applications. This was a huge increase on previous reach.  
  • Hollywood Bowl now have a clear path of what they need to do and are introducing situational judgement tests to further filter and refine applications. 

Well done Laura and the team! Watch the video replay.

Transforming recruitment capability to pinpoint recruitment success

Sam Jackson, Head of HR Shared Services at Royal Mencap Society presented their interesting story about how the charity had difficulty getting the right people into the right roles, addressing high turnover, high dropout rates within the application process and wanting to provide the best solution for over 1000 hiring managers and getting their buy in – not an easy thing to achieve. But Mencap did just that and achieved some pretty remarkable results. They built on this success and worked to profile their audiences to gain rich insight into where they should be investing their candidate attraction efforts.

A thought-provoking aspect Sam covered was how they had focussed their efforts (and budgets) on the source of where candidates came from – not where they got to in the process - as many organisations do, which was giving them a skewed view of successful sourcing channels (quantity v quality).

If you haven’t already done this, review where your best candidates come from. Chances are you are spending your advertising and recruitment marketing budgets in the wrong places.  Some channels are great at generating volume but on closer look they might not even make interview stage! 

Mencap’s ATS implementation was part of the journey to transform their recruitment capability and they have achieved some great results. You can read more about this in their detailed case study.

What Sam also shared with the audience was what not to do – such as focus too much on the internal needs and forget what the candidate needs – it sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how often this is overlooked. Sam finished with how the reporting dashboards available to them was a game changer. It opened their eyes to issues in the process and underpinned a new way of working. #workwithfeeling. Watch the video.

Changing ATS provider – where to start?

Emma Whitehouse, Head of HR Business Partnering at Marston’s presented an insightful view of how Marston’s had a really short time frame to change ATS provider - overcoming challenges along the way.

Not only did they have to evaluate where to start; ATS?, new digital agencies?, careers site? or EVP? but they had to overcome internal resistance from IT who believed Success Factors would be best fit for purpose as it was utilised already in the business for core HR (but didn’t offer the capability a best of breed recruitment platform did).

They were up against tight timescales too as their existing ATS contract was about to expire and would not negotiate an extension whilst Marston’s reviewed the how best to approach the candidate journey. The team at Marston’s achieved some phenomenal results in the 10 week implementation period of a revised, integrated ATS & E-recruitment platform and this was the start of the vision for aligning EVP to the HR agenda.

You can read the Marston’s story and how they approached their journey in a structured way.

Emma’s session prompted questions from the audience about how to engage stakeholders, how to handle the cultural change and how hiring managers embraced their new found capabilities. This really was a great session!  

Steps to a successful implementation - are you ready?

Rounding off the presentations was Kim Tolley, Senior Implementation Manager at Eploy who looked at steps to a successful implementation. Kim gave a whistle stop tour of practical ways to gather requirements, how to assess your ‘readiness’ for a successful implementation and managing such a project alongside BAU.

The 6 steps covered…

  • Stakeholder Involvement
  • Day to Day Operations
  • Becoming a High Performing Team
  • Capturing Requirements
  • Successful Implementation and Deployment
  • Evaluation – Beyond Deployment.

It was interesting to hear how understanding team performance can have a huge impact on results, how SMART objectives drive the right results and Kim gave some hints and tips for how to plan for challenges such as when key people leave mid project or overlap of projects – it’s quite common!

There is an e-book to accompany Kim’s presentation ‘Creating a Successful E-Recruitment Strategy’– and all of the sessions will soon be available to watch.
You can view Kim's session here.


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