Double delight as online delivers for DebenhamsOn 6 Apr 2004 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article The introduction of a recruitment portal by Debenhams has helped thedepartment store increase its volume of applications by 50 per cent. Those who don’t register the importance of this couldn’t possibly have beenaround at the tail-end of the 1990s, when internet recruitment generated moreadministrative problems than it solved for HR. Just publishing an e-mailaddress on a job ad was enough to invite a tidal wave of untargeted andunmanageable applications. Debenhams’ increase, however, is a 50 per cent rise in the right kind ofcandidates, largely because of improvements in recruitment software, as well asthe ‘human’ screening process behind the site. A freelance panel of ex-HRpersonnel assess the candidates using a unique scoring and assessment criteria.The other big difference with internet recruitment this time around is howcompanies are approaching the implementation of digital processes in general.No longer are new technologies merely bolted on to existing models. Nowadays,new processes are built around them, they are embedded into the company cultureand, crucially, have to be justified on a business level. “We’ve reduced time to hire by 10 per cent already, and know that wecan do better than that,” says Michelle Newman, Debenhams’ recruitmentadviser, retail and campaigns, who explains that developing an online strategywas also important to the organisation’s brand. “The marketplace wastelling us that we needed to go online and yes, we wanted to step up therecruitment process, but we also wanted to be at the forefront of things. Wewanted something to mark us out as the best, and make us a point ofdifference.” Debenhams employs 23,500 people, 64 per cent of them part-time. It operatesin 12 countries at 115 locations, and deals with more than 13 million customerseach year. Prior to online recruitment, it received a high number ofspeculative paper applications, plus 2,000 graduate applications each year. Rather than set up a separate website, Debenhams built the recruitmentportal into its corporate site and opted for Resourcing Software’s Web-cruit, ajob-posting and tracking system that allowed it to incorporate its screeningcriteria as part of the application form. It was also imperative that the system interfaced to the retailer’s PSEnterprise (PSe) HR management system (HRMS) from Northgate InformationSolutions (formerly Rebus), since part of its sell to the board was that theinvestment would build on results already achieved through this. As soon as acandidate inputs information into the portal, it can be downloaded to the HRMSsystem, and then put through the various stages. “This has saved us a huge amount of administration,” says Newman.”It’s given us an ease of accessibility when it comes to information, andmade applying for jobs much easier. Eighty per cent of our applications for themanagement training programme now come online.” This figure is ahead of target and above the same time last year for theprogramme. Around 1,600 online applications were received for the Bullringstore in Birmingham – the highest number of applications ever received for anew Debenhams store. Not only does the portal provide the retailer with another channel throughwhich to develop its recruitment and marketing campaigns, but because it isintegrated into the corporate site, candidates can also find out everythingthey need to know about working for Debenhams. Other useful features includethe facility to fill out an application in stages. Debenhams’ plans include moving to self-service HR, but at the moment, itwants to ensure the recruitment process is as slick as it can be. Its measured approach is more typical of the way large organisations are nowapproaching e-HR, says Steve Foster, manager at the business consultancy groupat Northgate. “Everyone has to define their own starting point when it comes to e-HR,and then put it in the context of a bigger plan or roadmap. It could berecruitment, but equally it could be flexible benefits,” he says. “Weall want the killer application that will get self-service out there.” Related posts:No related photos.