Opinion

How can Hollywood shed light on the modern world of recruitment?

8 min read

06 April 2016

Our world is accelerating at a frenetic pace. All around, digital advancements and new social platforms are changing the way we work and interact with each other. So what can we learn from Hollywood about recruitment?

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Amidst these swirling winds, recruiters are forced to invest more time, energy and creativity for opportunities to resonate with a new generation of candidate. With change abound, HR and recruitment professionals have struggled to offer outstanding candidate experience that cuts through the noise.

Enter Hollywood and the candidate experience map – tools that can help brands generate a holistic, 360-degree view of candidates throughout the entire application journey.

When you tell a compelling story about who you are and what you do, brands can attract and retain the world’s best talent and save millions of pounds in the process.

Why is a marketing agency talking about HR and recruitment?

Fair question. In marketing, we’re all quite familiar with the concept of a customer experience journey. Broken down into its simplest form, a customer experience journey analyses every step in a customer’s path-to-purchase, ascertaining how they feel, what they’re thinking and whether or not progression is as smooth as possible.

All of this information is gathered to craft a more memorable and engaging customer experience.

This is where it gets interesting. If you change the word “customer” to “candidate,” we have exactly the same guiding principles in play. That’s how, as a marketing agency, we have been able to apply our industry expertise and insight to shake up the world of recruitment and talent acquisition. It starts by placing the candidate at the heart of all our actions.

Hollywood’s leading role

As an avid film lover, I’ve long been fascinated by the perennial success of Hollywood stories, which continue to enchant and capture the hearts of millions worldwide. This passion led me to ask myself, “How can the success and passion of the Hollywood script be applied to marketing and recruitment?”

Throughout every sector, there seems to be some stand-out brands that are brilliant at telling stories. Every Hollywood script follows a similar process – the hero (candidate) is drawn into a journey (candidate application process) by the mentor (the brand or company).

Each phase of a Hollywood film serves as a parallel to the candidate experience journey, and thinking in story helps to identify the “moments between the moments”.
The challenge of modern recruitment, just as in marketing and Hollywood, lies in the way basic principles of understanding people, their behaviours and what drives and influences these individuals.

This is where we cross over from marketing to HR and see that both can be addressed in the same way.

The Virgin Media case study

In 2014, Virgin Media came to us with a problem: “How do we deliver an exceptional candidate experience so that we can attract and retain the world’s best talent?” We knew the answer was multi-faceted – first, it required an introspective and honest look at current practices.

Tens of thousands of people apply for a position at Virgin Media every year. From the total number of applicants in 2014, our research showed that 18 per cent were existing Virgin Media customers.

What we gleaned next laid bare the shocking cost of poor candidate experience: of that 18 per cent, more than 7,500 prospective candidates cancelled their subscriptions and switched to direct competitors like Sky.

7,500 customers – at varying subscription levels – equated to roughly £4.4m in lost revenue, or nearly the entire sum of Virgin Media’s HR budget. Rejected applicants and those who felt the brand offered a negative experience had no problem switching to a competitor, proving that poor candidate experience can jeopardise customer loyalty and hurt a brand’s bottom line.

As a result of these findings, Virgin Media committed themselves to dramatically improving their candidate experience across all digital channels and physical touch points.

Read more from Bryan Adams:

Candidate experience mapping

From the initial moment that a candidate interacts with your brand – whether that be on a mobile site, via a YouTube video or through website-hosted blog content – that individual has unconsciously embarked on a journey with your company.

It’s imperative that companies of all sizes apply marketing principles to existing recruitment practices.

The first step starts with persona mapping.

A persona map helps brands identify who their ideal target candidates are, what inspires and engages them and, crucially, how the recruitment process makes them feel at each specific moment during the recruitment journey.

There are a number of diverse touch points along the way: brand-produced content on social media, an online application, a Skype dialogue, online skills tests, physical interviews – the list goes on and on. Within each of these touch points are further moments; what we call the “moments between the moments”.

Consider this: let’s say your entire candidate journey is aligned and engaging, from initial discovery through to the interview phase. Your star candidate is on the way to his first face-to-face interview with your brand.

Unfortunately, he arrives to find there are no available spaces in the parking lot, so he is forced to park 15 minutes away from the office entrance. After dashing to make it on time, your candidate enters the office sweating in his sharp new suit, only to discover that it’s dress-down day.

Suddenly, all the work that it took to impress and engage the candidate up until that point begins to crack and splinter. Hollywood, of course, has a similar challenge: to tell a compelling story that keeps people engaged along the entire journey, or film.

Today’s shifting power

In today’s digital world, bad experiences and poor candidate attraction can spread to millions of people – potential employees and customers – worldwide with the click of a button.

It’s more important than ever for brands to understand their candidates and the journey to employment. Fusing elements of marketing and the Hollywood story into this process helps make it as simple, easy and enjoyable as possible, so that brands don’t risk losing money and talent.

Power is shifting from employer to employee. It’s the job of today’s savvy company to create experiences that will not only attract candidates, but keep them excited and engaged along the entire candidate journey.

For those who don’t adapt, a stark truth awaits: poor candidate experience will crush your bottom line and ostracise talent that other, more forward-thinking, companies will snatch up.

Bryan Adams is the CEO and founder of digital marketing agency Ph.Creative