Employer Branding

Virgin Media’s Secrets to a Great Candidate Experience

According to Virgin Media’s Employer Branding guru Neil Chivers, delivering a great candidate experience starts with thinking about the end user and what’s going through their thought process when they’re applying for a role.

“And even actually trying to understand what motivates them to apply for a job. Is it the brand? Is it working for a Virgin brand? Or is it actually about the job that they’re doing and actually the projects that they’re going to get involved with?”

He believes in taking an individual approach to the candidate experience – identifying individual people and opportunities that suit them, that will grow with them. He admits it’s a difficult task – Virgin hires about 3,000 people a year! Trying to tailor that experience is a huge task, but one that’s totally worth it. You can listen to my interview with him below, or read on for a summary of our conversation.

Building a great candidate experience

I think from my perspective, if I did have that step by step guide, I’d be a multi-billionaire and be selling lots of books around the world. But the way I approach things is kind of always thinking about the candidate. We should be putting their needs first. Yes, ultimately we’re here for jobs and to help our business. But actually, sometimes we don’t help ourselves because we don’t give the candidates every opportunity that they can be, to be the best that they can be. So always put them first. And I think from the inside out, so think about, as a business, where are we trying to go and what are we trying to achieve? Quite often, when we get hiring managers that come to us saying, “I need to recruit for this person.” Well, just because somebody’s left and you need to replace them doesn’t necessarily mean that you should just recruit a like replacement. Actually, it’s an opportunity to think about the future of the business.

Quite often, we are encouraging our stakeholders internally to think about future-proofing our business and actually thinking about what’s right for the business, not just today, but in years to come. And another key thing, I think, it’s just being authentic and being genuine. So one of the things that we have a big challenge with is the sheer volume of applications that we get. And partly because people see the Virgin brand and think, “Well, Virgin Media. I know them. I’m very familiar with them as an organization.” They may be a customer or they may know somebody else that is. And their perception of who we are might not actually match up to the reality.

I think as a business, I would encourage any employers out there to just be quite genuine and authentic in the message they put across. And actually, the reality is, you’re going to be expected to do some things in your job that actually a lot of candidates won’t want to do or can’t see themselves doing. Don’t be afraid to include that because we’re looking at the amount of people that are applying for our jobs. And to be quite honest, in some areas, the amount of applications we get just is too high and we want to give people real expectation of what it’s like to work here. So by being genuine and authentic, I think that’s one way of dealing with that.

What’s your tech stack for employer branding and recruiting?

“There’s quite a few different platforms. Some of the big ones, Avanade is our ATS. We moved to Avanade at the end of 2016, that enables us to source candidates. It’s got all of our jobs on. We can sample from it. We can obviously put in analytics to look at source of hire, which is significantly going to help us in terms of identifying where the best talent comes from. In addition to that, we have relationships with LaunchPad that we use for video interviewing. Probably something that we’ll explore a lot more in 2017, actually, how we can get the best out of that, ensuring that the experience that somebody gets using LaunchPad is just as we would expect it to be with them engaging with us on our career site. So changing the look and feel of it so that actually they get a Virgin Media experience, even though they’re using a third-party provider.

We have Meet and Engage for our volume recruitment which enables candidates to have live web chats with recruiters. Yocto our partner is there. And we’ve got a lot of tools at our disposal that we have internally that we’re trying to leverage those relationships that we’ve got with our digital team and marketing team. One of them being an employee advocacy platform called Dynamic Signal, which I know a lot of businesses will use to distribute and share content from their employees to their wider networks. And we’re actually using that to ensure that all employees have access to our Twitter handle and our LinkedIn profiles, so that they can share content and updates that are more career specific and career relevant. And we’re starting to see some great results from that and we continue to do so into 2017.”

Follow Neil on Twitter @Chivoir and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.