Many of the themes explored by conference presenters and panelists participating in the recent virtual HR Technology Conference & Exposition reflect the impact of the pandemic on the future of work and the ongoing cultural challenges associated with a remote workforce. Discussions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) also took center stage, spanning important subjects such as how to advance an organization’s diversity hiring strategy in a meaningful way and which emerging technologies hold the most promise when it comes to improving inclusion and mitigating bias.
And while talent management technology, including internal marketplaces, employee experience platforms and wellbeing apps, was a major topic, so was talent acquisition’s need to have the tools and solutions required to remain agile as recruiting demands continue to evolve as we retool and rebound in 2021.
How Talbots Uses an Agile Talent Acquisition Platform to Adapt Fast
Day one of the conference included a Tech Talk with Susan Collins, director of talent acquisition and employer branding at Talbots, alongside GR8 People’s Jenny Dang, a customer success manager and former recruiter who is dedicated to ensuring talent acquisition teams get the most out of their GR8 People One-Experience Talent Platform features and functionality.
The dynamic duo’s session, Adaptability Playbook: 3 #GR8 Tech Tips From Talbots, explored how talent acquisition teams can use their technology to keep pace with change, and especially, the unprecedented changes that we all experienced in 2020.
In Talbots’ case, increasingly, and especially during the pandemic, orders purchased online and often fulfilled by their stores have grown in popularity. For the talent acquisition team, the operational areas most impacted by the shift required major distribution warehouse, customer service center and retail store staffing initiatives. Onsite hiring—typically a top source for quick and qualified hires—was out of the question. The talent acquisition team was forced to look at how to do things differently, which resulted in the need to develop a new playbook for hiring in these three areas. Collins notes that having the right technology in place made it much easier to respond to shifting demands. “The reason we were attracted to GR8 People was because all solutions—the ATS, the career site and the CRM—were in one place, and this helped us adapt quickly when everything changed in 2020.”
More specifically, Collins offers three tech tips that will help any team seeking to become more agile and adaptable:
1. Have the ability to manage your career website and build landing pages on your own. At Talbots, the career site is easy to manage independently of marketing and IT, which made it possible to change messaging and content to address what both the business and job seekers needed during the pandemic. For example, talent acquisition quickly created pages that highlighted all the benefits of working in a distribution center, including surprisingly diverse career paths that people may not realize are available. Talbots also created a page specific to COVID-19 and how the recruiting process had changed because of the pandemic so that job seekers would know what to expect when interviewing. As Collins emphasizes, “The key is being able to make edits on the fly with easy and intuitive functionality and leverage templates with an asset library to protect Talbots’ employer brand integrity. Putting these things in place helped us confidently and quickly drive the process forward during a very difficult time.”
2. Lead gen should always be on to optimize the return on your talent pool. When Talbots first launched its Talent CRM program, the focus was on developing a monthly career newsletter that went out to anyone interested in learning more about working at Talbots. Cross-promotion through numerous channels enabled talent acquisition to steadily grow the number of leads in its talent pool. This meant that when the pandemic hit recruiters were able to turn to the pool immediately to re-engage candidates who were already qualified, available and interested in working at Talbots. The team’s biggest success story was in Atlanta—a market known for high turnover across the entire industry—where they were able to engage with 500 people in their talent pool and fill all open jobs with a single virtual hiring event and no ad spend. Collins summarizes their success, stating, “We promoted the event through a GR8 People email campaign that highlighted available jobs and drove the leads to a virtual event page where they could sign up for an available phone screen slot using self-scheduling functionality.”
3. Be creative with automation. According to Collins, “When I think about our business, store managers are the heroes of our business. They are the operations manager, the visual design manager, the product flow manager and the HR manager. They do all of these things in the store and their schedule is always different.” To help store managers, Talbots turned to automation that could support their unique work environment, which includes very little time spent in an office at a desk. For example, when candidates apply for a job opening, store managers receive automated alerts sent to their Talbots work email address. Subsequent reminders are then scheduled accordingly to make sure job applicants don’t get lost in the shuffle. “What’s important is that this is not at all about monitoring store managers,” Collins advises. “Doing this allows talent acquisition to see if we might need to step in and help given everything store managers are responsible for and the need to deliver a positive candidate experience. Everyone understands that it’s about working to achieve our goals as an organization, and store managers have been very appreciative.”
Collins closed the talk by stating that if she could share a fourth tip, it would be that when purchasing recruiting software make sure that you find a team that wants to be your partner and not just your tech vendor. “I think what I didn’t expect, based on past partnerships, is how great our experience could be. How GR8 People could help me find bottlenecks … and be that gentle nudge to keep things running smoothly and keep us innovating.”
Get even more #GR8Thinking from the team at Talbots. Learn how they built a Talent CRM program from the ground up to engage candidates in style.