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How bright is the future of volume recruitment?

The free-to-attend breakfast seminar, aimed at recruiters and HR mangers, attracted some of the UK’s biggest name employers including River Island, Burberry, Jury’s Inn, Specsavers and BUPA. 

Andy Paterson, recruitment manager, at Marks and Spencer (M&S) headlined the session, discussing how M&S successfully recruits in such large numbers and how they ensure that each hire is the right person for the right role. 

M&S has 798 stores in the UK and creates between 35,000 and 40,000 job vacancies a year, receiving over 225,000 applications per annum. Technology facilitates the progression of each candidate, from start to finish, and the whole recruitment process can take three days, from posting the job online to the new employee starting work.  

Paterson took the attendees on the M&S recruitment journey, stating, “Moving our recruitment activity online was vital for us. The bespoke WCN system allows us to have only two human & lsquo;touch points’ during the entire process, posting the vacancy and meeting management for an assessment, saving both time and money but it enables us to make the process as automated as possible, so the recruitment process is far more efficient and the candidate is engaged throughout as the application develops.  

“The M&S system goes one step further too. It ensures that applicants can only apply for one role, to avoid stores fighting over the same candidate. Plus, candidates cannot reapply for the same role within six months of rejection, as we feel it should take about six months to learn the relevant and necessary skills to become qualified for the role. Candidates obviously like the way we do things, because our candidate experience is rated at an incredible 98%.”

An interactive panel session also took place including Marks & Spencer, Co-op Bank, Mitie Homecare & Penna who answer questions put to them by the audience. 

Among the panel was Justine Addison, Resourcing Manager, at Mitie Homecare Carl Du Plessis, Interim Head of Resourcing & Talent at Co-Op Bank Sandeep Bhandal, Head of Strategic Development, at Penna and Andy Paterson, Recruitment Manager at M&S.


The first question posed to the panel was, & lsquo;What are the most important things to remember when volume recruiting?’

Du Plessis stated, “You have to understand what you have already got in place, and then ask yourself what you need to make it better. It takes time to implement strategies, so make sure you are planning for the future and how you want the process work in two years time.”

Bhandal agreed, “You need to start off by looking at your staff and the talent you have already got. It is imperative that you are clear when describing the role, so you can ensure you’re attracting the right people for the right role.”

Paterson was of a similar & lsquo;inward looking’ opinion, who commented, “It is important to know what you want to achieve from your volume recruitment before you start. What delivery model are you going to use? No matter what method you select, it is essential that you keep the applicants engaged throughout the whole process.”

Second question, & lsquo;What does great brand engagement look like’? 

Addison commented, “We turned our recruiting processes on its head. We stopped looking for the most statistically qualified person and started looking for the right person for the organisation. We then teach them the skills needed to perform the role successfully. During the entire process we make sure that we keep the candidate updated on all time frames and on any potential delays.”

Bhandal added, “Be upfront and have a clear company message. Who are you and what do you want? It’s important that your brand message and candidate engagement carries on throughout the whole process. Recruitment has become too operational and bland, with candidates simply becoming a number. Candidates need to leave having had a good experience, because they are your customers too at the end of the day.”

Du Plessis moved on to discuss the importance of employee brand, “Your staff’s reach is ten times more powerful than a company profile, so make sure that your employees are your brand. Have your staff selling the brand, acting as & lsquo;brand ambassadors’.” 

Final question, & lsquo;What do you think the role of recruiters will be in the future?’

Bhandal commented, “I believe that we will eventually find a perfect balance between technology and human interaction.”

“No matter how far the industry progresses it will always need human contact/interaction. All the greatest technologies and algorithms have been created by humans and will continue to do so,” added Addison.



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