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The secrets to designing a top-tier recruitment strategy

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In a job market favouring candidates, how can HR professionals ensure they get the best talent available? The Human Resources team finds out through award-winning case studies from ANZ, InMobi and Kadence International across the recruiting spectrum.

Amid today’s talent shortage, the job market is said to be very much in the candidates’ favour. It is no wonder HR professionals find recruiting and retaining top talent to be one of their key challenges. Per a survey by OfficeTeam, 36% of HR professionals highlighted recruiting as their greatest staffing concern.

In line with that, 36% of respondents also pointed out the most challenging aspect of their job is identifying and hiring candidates for open positions.

To help HR leaders improve their recruitment strategies to secure top talent, we dedicate this feature to the best practices across the recruitment spectrum – from employer branding to candidate experience and candidate evaluation.

All case studies are from gold award-winning programmes from this year’s Asia Recruitment Awards, held across Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Case study: How InMobi’s fresh employer brand raised referral rates by over 100%

High wage costs, coupled with a limited talent pool, is a challenge for any company, especially for one trying to attract talent in the dynamic and highly competitive technology space.

This challenge was what InMobi had to overcome, having realised its internal hiring practices needed a performance boost.

Only 1% of the organisation was involved in recruitment, and the hiring function was devoid of set processes.

The firm’s mission was to rebuild an entire recruitment team to cut down on costs and produce beneficiary results. Hence, InMobi began a long-term sustainable approach to tackling the problem of talent shortage and to make significant improvements in its employee retention, attrition and attraction rates.

Instead of hiring external experts to lead its branding strategies, InMobi hired two college interns to help it craft an authentic employer brand. The reason? The firm wanted a fresh set of eyes to help it discover its culture in the eyes of its employees and enhance the brand.

Rather than winning the war for top talent purely by enhancing compensation, the firm began to launch initiatives that defined what made InMobi an employer of choice, as Human Resources’ Akankasha Dewan found out.

Strategy: Prioritising employee needs

InMobi saw a tremendous opportunity to build on its employee-centric culture. Rather than concentrating on business alone, its initiatives reiterated the firm’s commitment to prioritise the needs of its employees.

For example, branding and communications were highlighted with the launch of its new social networking handles. InMobi began posting all office happenings on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, which were then mass shared by the employees. It targeted every medium: video, blogs, posts, posters and others.

Instead of hiring external experts to lead its branding strategies, the firm hired two college interns to help it craft an authentic employer brand. The reason? InMobi wanted a fresh set of eyes to help it discover its culture in the eyes of its employees and enhance the brand.

The firm didn’t incur any additional people costs, but the help of its interns empowered the entire team, along with 900 InMobians, to be the brand ambassadors for InMobi.

In addition, the company encouraged InMobians to decide on the best people to join the firm. It rewarded “experiences” for referrals, as opposed to cash amounts – such as international vacations, iPhones, Rockrider bicycles and the Royal Enfield Terminator.

“Our culture is our brand. InMobians take pride in speaking positively about our culture and sharing it with the world every day,” revealed Kevin Freitas, InMobi’s human resources leader (Asia).

Meanwhile, the sabbatical policy encourages InMobians to try their hand at entrepreneurship, and take a break to return refreshed. The company offers infrastructure, support and meals free of cost for InMobi alumni who have turned into entrepreneurs.

Besides this, InMobi’s springboard philosophy, rooted in career development, also offers internal internship opportunities across functions to every InMobian.

Results: Referrals and recruitment costs

As a consequence of these changes, InMobi significantly improved its attrition and referral rates. Referral numbers rose by over 100%, while InMobi’s recruitment costs reduced by 95%.

The metric of saving-per-hire also increased to 107%. Importantly, InMobi’s branding programmes evoked positive responses from its employees. They proved their commitment towards the company by referring the finest talent in the industry and closing more positions in less turnaround time, along with improved quality of hires.

Case study: Why Kadence has a 95% offer acceptance rate

Kadence’s “communication culture” has been the bedrock of its success – so, in 2014, the consultancy felt it was important to explicitly articulate this winning principle to ensure its sustainability for the years to come.

Building on its mission statement and HR policy, Kadence decided to invest time and thought to ensure every new colleague was smoothly assimilated into the Kadence team, regardless of background, and that they knew Kadence’s expectations from them.

“Kadence has bold strategic goals to raise the profile of our company and to reposition what market research stands for in the eyes of the wider marketing community. An integral part of this process is how we communicate with our candidates,” explained Phil Steggals, managing director for Kadence International, to Human Resources’ Jerene Ang.

“Our candidate experience strategy is built on three core objectives: simple, timely and personal. We read all CVs and cover letters within 24 hours of receiving them to ensure that we can respond to candidates in a timely manner.”
-Ashley Nin, associate director of Kadence International.

“We want to share our vision from the outset and ensure that people buy into, and are enthused by, our ideas. It is our firm belief that we are being interviewed as much as we are doing the interviewing – and this ensures that we clearly communicate the direction that we want our business to move in.”

Strategy: Communicate from the start

Kadence’s onboarding experience doesn’t start once a job offer has been made, it actually begins even before the interview.

“Our candidate experience strategy is built on three core objectives: simple, timely and personal. We read all CVs and cover letters within 24 hours of receiving them to ensure that we can respond to candidates in a timely manner,” explained Ashley Nin, associate director of Kadence International.

She added that once the right candidate is identified, Kadence will send them a few simple questions to understand their interest in the industry, company and the role to accurately gauge their engagement level. Again, all responses are made within 24 hours and candidates are then invited for an interview.

“During this interview, we invite them to deliver a short presentation, which demonstrates their creativity, proficiency in market research and a bit about their personal interest,” she said. “This provides the ideal means for us to get to know the candidate and for the candidate to get to know the Kadence philosophy and way of working.”

Wanting all new employees to hit the ground running, Kadence’s onboarding involves extensive preparation in terms of logistical requirements and human requirements.

Once the employee has signed the contract, they are included on the necessary email correspondence from the very first day. Additionally, a week before starting work, they are invited for social drinks to allow any questions, and to stoke their enthusiasm about their new role.

Subsequently, the “welcome week” and orientation is tailored to the level and experience of the new colleague, ensuring that information is delivered in a timely, engaging and personal manner.

Beyond the standard orientation tasks, this “welcome week” typically consists of a balance of interactive discussions, social integration and reading material.

Results: Positive onboarding feedback

Kadence first assesses its onboarding experience through feedback from the new employees themselves. They often offer feedback that they feel integrated, inspired and productive from their first hours in the company and become Kadence advocates in their first few days.

As a result of Kadence’s excellent candidate experience, employees are committed to the firm’s goals, leading to enviable retention rates by the standards of any industry – in 2015, only two employees left the Kadence team.

“With a nearly 95%-plus acceptance rate, we believe this strategy has been highly successful at identifying and engaging the right candidates,” Nin said. Additionally, the timely, personal and engaging induction, which doesn’t break the bank in terms of investment – about S$700 per new colleague – has played a part in accelerated productivity and familiarity, as well as the longterm commitment to the Kadence vision.

As a result of Kadence’s excellent candidate experience, employees are committed to the firm’s goals, leading to enviable retention rates by the standards of any industry – in 2015, only two employees left the Kadence team.

This has helped the firm bring in a consistent net profit of 12% to 15%, in addition to being crowned the gold winner for Best Candidate Experience, among in-house recruitment teams, at the recent Asia Recruitment Awards.

Case study: How ANZ cut down the average hiring time to 25 days, while enhancing the quality of the hiring pool

With a history of more than 180 years, ANZ is committed to building lasting partnerships in 34 markets internationally. ANZ’s Singapore journey started in 1974 through its representative office. Since receiving its Qualifying Full Bank licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore in 2010, ANZ has further entrenched its presence in the country with a wide range of products, services and insights, and some 2,000 employees.

To support the bank’s agenda, the HR team has focused on attracting, developing and retaining a highly diverse workforce to meet customers’ needs.

However, an internal review of its hiring practices highlighted a worrying trend which reflected a decrease in the number of local hires. In addition, local employee attrition was above the market norm for the financial sector.

These factors drove the team, led by Maximilian Then, head of resourcing for Singapore and Hong Kong, to make enhancements to ANZ’s recruitment rigour that ultimately impressed the judges at the Asia Recruitment Awards to hand ANZ the gold for the Best Recruitment Evaluation Technique.

He spoke to Human Resources’ Aditi Sharma Kalra: “Enhancing our evaluation techniques has enabled ANZ to screen quality candidates faster, efficiently honing in on specifically tailored role requirements, removing the opportunity for unconscious bias and adding extra emphasis on some of our core people priorities, including gender equality and developing local talent.”

Strategy: Driving rigour in recruitment

Over the course of 2015, ANZ’s recruitment team established a continuous improvement plan encapsulating five new initiatives. One of these was the introduction of questions during the pre-screening application process, via the Taleo Recruitment System. Not only does this include business-specific questions tailored to roles, but it also helped ANZ identify a candidate’s legal right to work to factor into the process upfront.

In addition, ANZ’s Singapore candidate summary form, which provides line managers a consistent framework to evaluate talent, was refreshed. It now includes metrics such as the inclusion of a female interviewer on every interviewing panel, gender-balanced interview shortlists and consideration of local Singaporean talent for all roles in alignment with the commitment to develop local talent.

Results: Boosting local talent by 2%

A review of the recruitment process post the implementation of the new initiatives showed that ANZ’s average time to hire externally is only 25 days, proof the improvements in recruitment evaluation techniques are speeding up the interview and selection process.

The strengthening of selection criteria has contributed to great results, including a 2% increase in Singaporean talent, 49% of external hires being female and an employee attrition rate which is now within banking sector norms.

ANZ’s Singapore candidate summary form now includes metrics such as the inclusion of a female interviewer on every interviewing panel, gender-balanced interview shortlists and consideration of local Singaporean talent for all roles in alignment with the commitment to develop local talent.

ANZ is tracking well to further improve on these figures in 2016. While these numbers continue to be monitored, ANZ’s awardwinning team is extremely pleased with its progress and this team’s focus on continuous improvements remains unwavering.

Designing a top-tier recruitment strategy

After looking at these recruitment best practices, here are our three quick tips for designing a top-tier recruitment strategy.

1. Authentic is key for employer branding. Instead of getting an external perspective, focus on the company culture in the eyes of employees.

2. When it comes to candidate experience, remember to communicate from the very start using simple, timely and personal responses.

3. To strengthen the candidate evaluation process, screen applicants during the application process with business-specific questions tailored to their roles and make sure a consistent framework, including a diverse interview panel to evaluate talent, is in place.

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