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Interview with Sofology's Alyson Fadil

Sofology's Alyson Fadil is due to speak at our upcoming event, "Using Data to Optimise Talent Acquisition". Read highlights from our interview with her last year where she tells us about the benefits an ATS has brought to her business.

As the majority of large to midsize organisations today use some sort of Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to manage their recruitment more efficiently, People Director of Sofology, Alyson Fadil, spoke to Rullion about what prompted her organisation to buy recruitment technology and the impact it has had.

Sofology: The impact of a bespoke Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

An exponential growth and expansion rate, resulting in treble the permanent vacancies compared to last year, as well as the knowledge that all candidates are potential or existing customers, was the impetus required to introduce recruitment technology to UK specialist sofa retailer, Sofology last year.

“We purely couldn’t cope [on a manual system] anymore and needed to have a system that could automate it all,” said the Sofology People Director. As an Executive Director, reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer, Alyson has full accountability for the HR proposition within the business.

“Our applicants have gone up from around 150 per week – which to be fair we could cope with manually – to 1,000 per week across the business.”

The employees, all called ‘Sofologists’, may work in any number of areas such as IT, Marketing, HR, Finance or Merchandise. These individuals may be part of Sofology’s online team or customer services, or they may operate within one of the organisation’s 31 retail stores or six distribution centres across the UK.

Life before technology

Prior to the introduction of their ATS, Sofology’s recruitment was all done manually. Candidates applied via Sofology’s careers website, before the in-house recruitment team printed off the CVs and all candidates were vetted via a telephone interview.

“Today, the system runs that process for us, with as little manual intervention as possible from the in-house recruitment team other than to actually liaise with the candidate”, said Fadil.

Customising your technology to your business needs

Part of the beauty of Sofology’s ATS is that it has been custom built for its individual needs.

In Sofology’s case, they require a self service system whereby candidates can book themselves on assessment centres rather than have the in-house recruitment team do it for them.

“This means we get better attendance at assessment centre because the candidates are choosing times/dates that are most convenient to them. It also means the in-house team isn’t spending lots of time going backwards and forwards trying to manage when everyone can attend or when the hiring managers are free. Instead it is all done automatically and all the candidates have to do is pick a suitable date/time for them based on what the system is telling them they can book.”

Return on Investment (ROI)

Alyson stated, when we interviewed her last year that it was still too early to give a definitive ROI, but she did say: “it has definitely improved our cost to hire, and it’s definitely improved the productivity of my team, and it has also absolutely improved our time to hire.”

This is because due to greater efficiencies in the recruitment process the in-house team can now fill more vacancies, much more quickly, on less cost. For example, the average time to recruit is down from 36 days to 27 days, said Fadil.

Due to the success of a rapidly growing business, this has been a huge relief on the in-house team who can no longer keep up with and manage the process manually.

Selecting the right provider

“I wanted a bespoke system. I didn’t want something off the shelf,” Alyson said. “I wanted the candidates to be able to do as much of it themselves as possible. I also wanted to be able to have SLAs built into the system that flag to my [in-house recruitment] team if somebody isn’t getting feedback within 48 hours of their interview so they can chase it.”

Moreover, the technology now allows Sofology to evaluate how a candidate experiences their business and to measure whether Sofology has delivered on what it has promised its candidates throughout the recruitment process.

“So we do an NPS (Net Promoter Score) at the end of their assessment centre. In other words the candidates score us on a 0 to 10 basis as to whether they would recommend us to a friend or family for a job based on the experience they had within the assessment centre. And at the end of the whole process we do a questionnaire. That asks them about all the pieces within our CRM to make sure each bit of the CRM was triggered and was effective. So for example, did you receive feedback 48 hours after interview, did you get a full presentation when you attended the assessment centre, were you informed of what you needed to bring with you to the assessment centre and so on. You know all the things that are important to the candidate and to us.”

Still some work to go

A bespoke system will always have a few teething problems and a few tweaks to the system have had to be made along the way.

Fadil stated “However, that’s the great thing about it being bespoke. The biggest benefit of it is that we can decide what we want it to do and it just gets built.”

Tips for an ATS in your business

Organisations that want to introduce recruitment technology into their business should ultimately keep their business and their brand in mind, stressed Fadil.

“What do you need, within your business, for it to be functional [is what organisations should consider],” she said. “An off the shelf system will give you general recruitment facilities. It is important to remember, however, that it won’t necessarily be processed in the way you want your candidates to be processed through your system that represents your brand,” she concluded.

We're delighted to have Alyson Fadil join us as a keynote speaker at our upcoming event, "Using Data to Optimise Talent Acquisition" on 17th March at The Mere in Knutsford.