Entertainment retailer HMV receives between 75-100 job applications every day and, invariably, the applicants are also their customers.
It is a fact that is never lost on HR director Liam Donnelly, who insists that candidates are treated in the same way as any customer. "They have a passion for music or games and they are people we need to look after regardless of whether we employ them or not," says Donnelly, who arrived at the high street retailer as head of HR eight years ago. He cut his retail teeth at the Kingfisher Group and entertainment chain MVC.
"A customer would receive a response straight away and so should a job applicant."
Donnelly can be confident this is now the case for those who apply to HMV's network of nearly 200 stores across the UK and Ireland.
Two years ago, HMV embarked on an online recruitment strategy to help manage its high volume of job applications. What began as a simple online application form for graduates has evolved into a full-blown filtering and candidate management system for all HMV vacancies, which tracks applications through the recruitment process. It has enabled the organisation to double the number of graduates it recruits to 50 a year, and over the Christmas recruitment period, reduced recruitment advertising costs by 65%. It also saved around 800 hours of store managers' time.
Prior to the online system, HMV had a highly decentralised recruitment process with each store manager taking responsibility for its own recruitment.
"We had no idea how well that process was being managed," says Donnelly.
"We didn't know whether candidates were being written back to or what shortlisting process was being used. It was very difficult to get any degree of consistency across the business. So as part of our drive to tackle labour turnover issues, we saw it [the online initiative] as a very good way of improving general customer service to the business. It also made sure that not only do we get the right candidates, but that all applicants are responded to quickly and appropriately."
HMV has one of the most iconic brands on the high street. Donnelly was keen to make sure the branding was right on the site and had the front end designed by HMV's marketing agency. For the back end, which does all the hard work, HMV worked with specialist online recruitment technology company Changeworknow, whose clients include B&Q and Woolworths.