Online recruitment: How I made a difference

The story starts in 2000, when I had just joined KPMG as head of graduate recruitment. At that time we were handling applications in a very manual, paper-based way and we were becoming swamped.

I championed a move to online recruitment. KPMG became the first major employer of graduates to move to an online recruitment system. We took a really bold risk at that time, because people were saying ‘The technology won’t work. You’ll never be able to sell the concept to students, and you’ll lose the best candidates’.

It was against that kind of opposition that I decided that we had to take the risk and commit ourselves to a very different kind of service. Since then, we have tried to position ourselves as a pioneer of innovative recruitment solutions.

It’s now critical for an organisation like KPMG to have a virtual recruitment strategy, so last year we were the first major employer to join the UK’s first virtual recruitment fair, in Second Life, a completely bizarre online world where candidates can turn up dressed as eight-foot yellow aliens, or attend their interview in a casino. Trying to explain that to 600 partners was a huge challenge.

KPMG is relatively conservative, but my view is that in the recruitment world, you have to take risks. You have to stay ahead of the competition, and constantly experiment with new ways of reaching your target audience, whether through social networking sites like FaceBook orLinkedIn, or by using online job boards.

When we took our recruitment process online, we promised to get back to applicants within 24 hours. And that’s not just with an acknowledgement of their application, but with detailed feedback of up to two pages.

That’s because we use the technology to do what it’s really good at – comparing applications and profiling people. And we’ve built feedback into every part of the application process. Technology has allowed us to put the candidate first.

Keith Dugdale, head of global recruitment, KPMG

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