Recruiting at Scale

How HR executives ensure that the process for hiring by the thousands brings in the best people to their organizations

When annual hiring goals creep into the triple- and quadruple-digits, the executives leading recruiting departments need processes and solutions that bring in quality candidates at a constant pace.

Here, HR executives across several industries share how they tackle feats of mass hiring every year.

Embrace an unconventional strategy

Dr. Sebastian Hubert is the global head of strategy and technology for Siemens, a global electrical engineering and electronics company that hires 35,000 people annually to fill positions around the world. As a member of the executive leadership team of talent acquisition, Dr. Hubert works to ensure that Siemens has the right talent to make a positive impact in society and propel digitalization.

Strategy is essential for this scale—and geographic span—of recruiting. Dr. Hubert explains that Siemens’ talent acquisition strategy centers around scouting the workforce of the future, which is enabled by technology and focused on user experience. One aspect of this is targeting candidates through proactive recruiting and nurturing relationships early.

“Paying attention to changing demographics and the ways of working is another major driver for our strategy,” Hubert says. “Full-time employment is no longer the only area that we have to address in order to work with the best talent on the market and master the challenges our business faces. Work via platforms, projects, gigs, freelancing, contests, contracts, and tours of duties—enabled by cloud, on-demand AI, extreme personalization, and personal devices—are our new reality. This especially holds true for highly specialized experts, or people at different life stages that may require more flexibility—like younger people or even our older generation that still want to continue contributing. Getting this right will be pivotal.”

Targeting highly trained experts with application-by-invitation will become crucial, he adds. “We can no longer just rely on talent applying to Siemens. We need to reach out to the experts our business needs in a personalized way,” Hubert says.

Know when—and how—to outsource

For companies with massive workforces to manage as well as annual hiring targets in the thousands, outsourcing recruitment is a viable option.

Cecilia McKenney is the senior vice president and chief human resources officer of Quest Diagnostics Health & Wellness, where she oversees the hiring of 10,000 new employees a year, on top of managing the company’s 45,000-member workforce.

When considering working with an outside firm on recruitment, McKenney was able to make her decision based on two important factors. First, she had a longstanding professional relationship with the CEO of recruitment process outsourcing firm Cielo, Sue Marks, starting eighteen years ago when McKenney needed to recruit in large numbers for Pepsi Bottling Group and Marks worked for a firm called HRfirst. Second, McKenney discovered that Cielo’s approach and values lined up with those of Quest, enabling her to fully trust this vital process to them.

“Cielo treats us the way we treat our customers with similar values,” McKenney says. “Quest is about everyday excellence and putting forth the patients’ needs as the primary mission for what we do every day. I would say that Cielo really does that for us. They are very much of a partner in how we go to market and really want to embrace our values in how they source talent for us.”

McKenney emphasizes that working with an outside firm for recruiting needs to feel like a partnership. A shared understanding of values and what you’re seeking in employees is crucial for building the trust that will allow your HR team to focus fully on other important functions, like retention.

The right tech and tools are essential

When Brooke Glennon took her first recruiting role at Encompass Health in 2006, the organization had only three HR representatives supporting about one hundred hospitals and several hundred outpatient clinics. It was clear they needed to revamp their recruiting practices, and Glennon turned to technological solutions to fill in the gaps.

“Technology has by far been the biggest change agent within the talent acquisition space over the last decade,” Glennon says.

Encompass Health opted to work with technologies it could pair with its dedicated personal touch. Though recruitment platforms like Avature are helping the company identify candidates and track progress, recruiters are still phone screening candidates and building personal relationships. “That should never change,” Glennon says. “But once we’ve built that relationship, we really want to make sure that the process going forward is as easy and simple as possible for the candidate. We have a team of dedicated recruiters who are sourcing top talent, staying in touch with warm leads, and guiding candidates through the application and interview process. While technology is rapidly changing the landscape of recruiting, we do not want to stray away from the personal touch of a recruiter.”

The recruitment team utilizes video interviewing, which is especially helpful for interviewing nursing candidates whose shift schedules don’t align with typical business hours. They also rely on the data analysis that Avature’s candidate relationship management system provides, allowing them to quickly visualize and analyze data from a high volume of candidates.

Glennon explains that all of these tools work because they’re adaptable to Encompass Health’s specific needs, and that by taking advantage of the right tools, the recruitment team is more efficient and can invest its time in the high-touch, relationship-building elements of recruiting, rather than on processes that could be automated.