Best Practices in Recruiting — ERE Excellence Awards 2010 (Part 4 of 4)

Apr 7, 2010
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

If you have read parts one through three, you already know that despite a down economy, a good number of organizations documented the need for innovation and made the business case for change in their organizations. The focus on supporting applicants using mobile technology was common, as were efforts to improve quality of hire, plan more effectively, and drive retention.

Notably absent from this year’s awards: a major focus on diversity. For the first time since the awards program’s inception, not enough applications were received in the category to enable adequate comparison. Did diversity drop in importance, or have diversity recruiting efforts become so embedded that organizations no longer evaluate them on a standalone basis?

In this final installment, I’ll look at the practices of two organizations that pulled their practices together to make the case as to why they should be considered the Function of the Year.

Winning this award is the highest achievement that a recruiting function can achieve outside public recognition by its own executive team as being a core contributor to organizational success. Over the years the winners of this award have demonstrated excellence in developing a strong business case in dollars, building an impactful employer brand, leveraging metrics extensively, innovating in critical areas, applying the CRM model to applicant/candidate management, supporting robust workforce planning, and using new technology to enable new practices.

Winner — Sodexo USA

If one were to look at the recruiting practices of the U.S. region of this integrated global food and facilities management services provider with over 110,000 employees, you wouldn’t guess that its function was only a few years old. Like many organizations, Sodexo experimented with outsourcing the full scope of its recruiting activities in 2004, opting to pull the function back in house in early 2005 following a disastrous experience with Spherion. In four years, the recruiting function at Sodexo has not only architected and implemented a recruiting function from scratch; it has done so while coping with 300% organizational growth. While many would have struggled just to keep pace and tackle the enormous change management required to bring a function back in house and consistently innovate, Sodexo has gone 10 steps further, establishing themselves as a benchmark leader in many aspects of talent management. Some of the key accomplishments that established Sodexo as the Function of the Year include:

  • Strategic leadership — its HR and recruiting leadership team have been on the leading edge of innovation in talent management for several years now. It has repeatedly convinced senior executives to support and fund an ever evolving array of initiatives by making a compelling business case routed in business impact.
  • Employer branding — its recently implemented employer branding effort has dramatically increased the visibility of this previously “invisible” firm (with a hard-to-pronounce and spell name, it was recently changed from Sodexho to Sodexo to make it easier). Its leadership team has made a concerted effort to win awards and to be significantly more visible in the media. Its refurbished its referral program to help use employees to spread the word about this well-managed firm.
  • High-volume capability — it has developed the capability to “scale up” its recruiting effort in order to meet its nearly 60% annual growth rate. The process allows it to recruit for 5,000+ management and executive roles annually.
  • An investment in training — it hired a full-time recruiting trainer to identify functional training needs, develop curricula, seek out industry/professional training opportunities, and to track progress. Its recruiters are required to obtain AIRS CIR/CDR certifications. It regularly shares best practices during weekly department calls. It also regularly engages top specialists including Shally Steckerl, Lou Adler, and myself to provide technical and strategic guidance.
  • A remote work organization — it organized its recruiting function to support remote work. The Sodexo recruiting team is comprised of 80 professionals, each of whom work from home offices distributed across 38 states.
  • CRM — it uses CRM technology to support candidate relationship management in addition to the traditional ATS technology to support administrative workflow.
  • Social media excellence — Sodexo’s social media initiative is on the leading edge of best practices. It has been widely recognized as a model for emulation by leading industry, HR, and recruiting professionals. Its web presence effectively communicates Sodexo’s company, culture, and opportunities across a Careers blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn group, You Tube Channel, Twitter, and Flickr. It also provides multiple venues for talent to interact with recruiters, employees, and one another through social media sites and technically focused microsites. Its associated sites and social networks contribute an additional 127,000 page views and over 5 million media impressions annually. The Society for New Communications Research recently recognized Sodexo with the Excellence Award for its pioneering work with Microblogging.
  • Web excellence — it has developed online talent communities to better target and support candidate populations. It has re-launched the Sodexo USA Careers website as the hub of a vast array of online properties that displays the many faces of Sodexo, including the company, employees, values, culture, and career opportunities.
  • Employee referral — it revamped its employee referral program to focus on referee and referral service, resulting in a 36.2% increase in referral activity, and a whopping increase of 50% in the percentage of total external hires attributed to the ERP.
  • Analytics — it uses extensive metrics to measure and report on individual and team performance, including metrics that cover customer satisfaction and hiring cycle time.
  • Diversity report card — it has a strong emphasis on diversity. It uses a diversity scorecard and it measures and reports the diversity of the candidate slate for each position.
  • Alumni/boomerang effort — it has launched a major boomerang program known as the “Alumni Reconnexions Program” resulting in 123 rehires in 2009.
  • Military recruiting — it developed a highly successful military focused recruitment initiative that increased military management hires by 28%.
  • Results produced — it has consistently produced significant results, including a 211% increase in career site traffic, a 56% increase in candidates per requisition, and a $300,000 reduction in advertising costs.

Finalist — CACI International Inc.

The average American may never have heard of CACI International (which will speak at ERE’s Fall conference in Hollywood, Florida), but it has played a vital role in keeping America and our allies safe for nearly 50 years by supporting the Department of Defense and intelligence communities’ IT needs. Employing more than 12,700 employees, CACI International is ranked by Fortune magazine as one of the most admired companies in the information technology industry. Despite focusing on recruits that require high-level security clearance and a lack of visibility, CACI has developed workforce planning practices that are superior to many well-known Fortune 100 companies. It strategy is powerful because it focuses on improving organizational performance by identifying new sources of human capital, implementing innovative technological approaches, and by measuring operational performance. Some of its key accomplishments include:

  • Predictive Modeling — CACI leads the way in adapting proven “business solutions” and tools to recruiting problems. Only a handful of recruiting departments use this forward-looking planning tool. Effective predictive modeling allows both recruiting and hiring managers to proactively prepare for future staffing issues and opportunities that occur within the scope of its business development strategic plan.
  • Monetizing recruiting — in addition to the traditional metrics like recruiter workload, workforce movement, and days-to-fill, it also calculates lost revenue. Demonstrating revenue gains and losses in dollars as a result of talent management decisions is a critical factor in getting managers to pay attention to talent management issues. It has calculated that its recruiting success enabled CACI to generate an additional $12.2 million in revenue in 2009.
  • Advanced trending — rather than relying exclusively on historical metrics, it also uses “real-time hiring metrics” to identify trends in order to improve operational excellence. These real-time metrics are evaluated to facilitate more effective decision-making.
  • Rewarding managers for great hiring — CACI is one of only a handful of firms that have had the foresight and courage to offer incentive bonuses to effective hiring managers. $500,000 in bonus compensation has been allocated to motivate managers to make hiring a top priority.
  • Agility to scale up — it has developed a process for identifying potential recruiting problems including “aging requisitions” and “hard-to-fill” jobs. This process alerts recruiters and triggers the use of supplemental RPO vendors and third-party recruiters to augment recruiting capability.
  • A revitalized referral program — it successfully used an aggressive employee referral marketing campaign that, combined with cash incentives, quarterly sweepstakes, and team-building bonuses successfully drove increases in referral submittals by 78% while decreasing referral costs per hire by 61%. Overall 31% of all hires came from referrals. The referral program also has an alumni component which allows alumni to make referrals. This program encourages CACI alumni to network within their current network because they receive a bonus when they successfully refer candidates back to CACI. Its alumni program increased their rehires by 20% last year.
  • Facilitated internal movement — CACI has developed an employee mobility program to supplement its external recruiting effort. By proactively seeking out internal candidates and filling jobs internally, it increases retention rates while simultaneously reducing hiring costs (external hires are as much a 60% more costly than internal transfers). This automated tool makes it easier for managers to identify potential fills for project needs and aids employees by helping them to proactively manage their careers. Last year its proactive internal mobility program filled 701 positions from internal sources.
  • Search engine optimization — by using an effective search engine optimizationprocess on Google, Yahoo, and Bing it has successfully increased the visibility of CACI jobs, attracting 15,600 new applicants from these sources in this year alone.
  • Social networks — it has implemented a successful social media strategy which includes visibility on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Altogether, this effort attracted an additional 519 new applicants in an eight-month period.
  • Military hiring — in addition to its traditional military hiring program, it has a specialized effort for recruiting disabled veterans. CACI is listed among the Top 100 Most Military-Friendly Employers, and listed it as one of The 2009 Most Valuable Employers for Military.
  • Speed of hire — its effort to streamline the hiring process resulted in reducing days to fill from 31 to 26 days. Overall it successfully recruited and filled 3542 positions last year.
  • Cost per hire — its hiring process also produced an average cost-per-hire of $3,401, which is extremely low in its industry where recruits often must have unique skill sets and security clearances.

Final Thoughts

The award recipients highlighted in each of the four parts of this article have clearly “pushed the envelope” in recruiting and talent management. Despite tough economic times, they have implemented new approaches and technologies. There’s a lot that can be learned from these firms, but perhaps the most important lesson is that you need to keep learning and benchmarking. If you’re still focusing on transactions and cutting costs, realize that you are way behind the curve and it is highly unlikely that you will be adequately prepared to explode out of the blocks when the economic upturn begins. My congratulations to all of the winners, finalists, and applicants. Each of you demonstrated your professionalism by both successfully implementing your innovations and by sharing them with others. It was a pleasure both reading and sharing a few of your best practices.

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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