Creating an Unrivaled Candidate Experience at Robertson

Next in our interview series with the 2018 In-house Recruitment Awards finalists for Best Candidate Experience, Adam Gordon talks to Robertson about their recently enhanced candidate management process. 

Until 2017, resourcing at Robertson was transactional, processing contracts, administering job adverts, only really talking to candidates if they had a problem with their offer and having to be reactive. This is a fast growing company though. 65% of existing employees have under 2 years’ service so the old way of recruiting needed to change.

Since implementing iCims in early 2017, however, the company now has a revamped careers page, mobile friendly browsing and an easy application process. It’s taken 18 months but candidate experience is now massively enhanced. The resourcing team of 10 (currently working on 303 live vacancies so quite busy..) now undertakes all initial candidate screening and only sends people who are suitable to the hiring managers, which of course, they appreciate.

The company has hired a talent resourcer to develop Robertson’s social media recruitment channels, build their social reach and create better ways to interact with the candidate market. They’ve created videos to share apprentice and graduate success stories for early careers prospects, an extremely important candidate segment in construction; such an important segment that Robertson has launched an ‘Academy’ so all intern, apprentice and graduate training will be delivered in-house for the first time, gaining the company the acclaimed Investors in Young People certificate.

The development of a comprehensive candidate brochure has been a big step forward. Everything the candidates need is one interactive document including a welcome from the CEO, community development and an overview of the group’s young people strategy. Robertson is quite a big and successful company, working on major projects. This is all included in the brochure and it’s shared with Robertson’s partner agencies for an optimum consistent candidate experience.

It’s not all about technology though. A cleaner is less likely to have a CV than a project manager so straightforward application forms for those positions are necessary and as recruitment is changing so fast, Kirsty Paterson, Head of Recruitment at Robertson acknowledges there’s still work to do. A few of the enhancements I specifically like include:

  • Automatic email to unsuccessful candidates explaining why they aren’t being taken forward and inviting them to a talent network
  • 15 talent networks split according to different business areas
  • Regular information shared with each talent pool including career stories, business successes and priorities as well as, of course, occasional job opportunities
  • Multiple vacancies are now being filled through these talent networks; they allow the team to create shortlists without having to advertise or go to agencies

Kirsty and her team are working closely with the business across all regions to continue to establish why someone would want to work for them. She says, “The candidate experience needs to be a true reflection on what it’s like to work at Robertson. We can’t afford to sell candidates ‘a dream’ so we have done a lot of work with hiring managers to upskill them in recruitment and candidate experience. We need them to be great brand ambassadors. While we need to give candidates swift and robust feedback, making an offer after a 30 minute conversation can be a turn-off too.”

One interesting initiative is the ‘People Manager Passport’ which is an online toolkit which talks hiring managers through the different stages of the candidate and employee lifecycle and includes workshops and e-learning to enhance hiring manager skills.

Kirsty acknowledges there’s still work to be done. As an example, she plans to undertake further work around onboarding and creating consistency across the UK regions. One thing I did note they’re doing really well is communicating with candidates pre-offer, post-offer and pre-start date. Each candidate receives a call in advance of their offer being sent to make sure it is in line with their expectations and once accepted, receives a link to an onboarding portal with a ‘welcome to Robertson’ video and all the policies and information they will need before passing into the L&D team.

Adam Gordon is CEO and Co-founder of talent pipeline automation software company Candidate.ID, our category partner for Best Candidate Experience. Click here to read his interview with this year’s bronze winners Kew Green Hotels.

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