Defence Client Case Study

MANE Contract Services Ltd had been working with a specialist defence organisation (‘the client’) based in the UK. The client employs around 1,500 employees in the UK and has contracts directly with the Ministry of Defence. The client had a recruitment target to recruit 100 new hires each year over the next 3 years. After year 1, the client had failed to reach this annual target, only successfully recruiting 57 hires.

In preparation for an annual recruitment performance review with the client where all KPI’s and recruitment supplier activity was reviewed, MANE had produced in-house data generated from our CRM system. As we presented this report to the stakeholders, there was interest in our findings and it was agreed MANE would work in partnership with the client to improve these.

The key areas our initial report identified:

  • Poor candidate experience
    • Inaccurate job descriptions
    • Lack of/poor application and interview feedback
    • Hiring process timescales
  • Recruitment headcount targets not being achieved
  • Recruitment timescales
    • Average CV feedback timescale – 12 working days from submission to acceptance/rejection
    • Average Call for interview timescale - 8 days from application acceptance to interview being arranged
    • Interview dates – up to 27 working days from CV submission
    • Feedback/decision timescales – Average 5 working days from the interview date

Our proposal

MANE offered to work in partnership with the client to further investigate and understand these
challenges at no cost to the client.

A plan of action was agreed:

1. Key stakeholders to be identified and engaged
2. Stakeholder engagement workshops to be held
3. Job descriptions to be reviewed with hiring managers and HR
4. Review of hiring requisition process (an element added internal stakeholders)
5. Candidate attraction
6. Recruitment process timescales
7. The candidate experience

1. Key stakeholders to be identified and engaged

This was recognised by both parties to be paramount to the success of the exercise. It was
important that no assumptions were made and that all stakeholders were given the platform to
share and contribute.

A ’top down’ approach was agreed to be the best approach. It was agreed that the message need to be endorsed from the Board down, ‘this is important’.

The exercise was given the name “Best we can be”.

The first step was to meet with the Heads of department, share our initial findings and gain their buy in. This was initially done on a 1-2-1 basis to demonstrate the challenges and the benefits to them and their departments.

The Head of departments then identified key members from their teams to be included in the

2. Stakeholder engagement workshops to be held

MANE organised a schedule for the stakeholder workshops;

  • Initial sessions with stakeholders from each department, this was typically 2-3 key personnel the Heads of department had identified and had an initial conversation with to express the importance of the exercise and agree anything they wanted to raise as a department
  • MANE and HR then invited these key people to the first ‘group workshop’ where representatives from each department attended. Breakfast workshops were agreed, coffee and pastries were provided!

Initial 2 hour workshop focus was as follows:

  • Sharing of challenges (internal and external)
  • Sharing of ideas
  • What was realistically possible as a first ‘wave’ of change
  • Agreement of the priorities
  • Agreement of who was doing what and by when

Actions from key stakeholder workshop:

  • Job descriptions were out of date and did not ‘sell the opportunity’ – ​MANE to work with Hiring managers to review the suite of job descriptions for their needs 
  • Agreement that recruitment timescales were impacting recruitment of desired talent – MANE worked with HR and Hiring managers to agree a realistic internal service level agreement
  • Agreement that the hiring requisition process could be improved, sign off from the Finance department often delayed release of the vacancy – HR and Finance to meet and review this process
  • There was a lack of consistency in how hiring managers followed the process, interviewed and provided feedback – MANE and HR to create new recruitment workflow, gaining buy in from Heads of department and assigned stakeholders. Interview workshops to be held with all managers that were going to recruit in the next 12 months
  • The candidate experience in a candidate-driven market was poor and needed to be improved – MANE, HR and the internal recruitment team to review the process and work with Marketing to create new material and documents to support the recruitment process and on-boarding
  • All parties had experienced frustration with the above and agreed to the action plan

3. Job descriptions to be reviewed with hiring managers and HR

MANE and HR initially agreed a new standard template format for all new hires. These new
templates had an increased focus on ‘selling the opportunity’ to the candidate, the company and its products, the opportunity for development and learning and most importantly ensuring that internal buzz words and acronyms could be understood externally.
MANE were then invited to spend time with hiring managers to coach and encourage the time and effort put into creating the role profiles.

4. Review of the hiring requisition process

HR and Finance met to review the process and HR were able to demonstrate to finance the
challenges this was causing the business.

It was agreed by the Head of Finance and HR Director that requisition sign off could now sit with the HR Business Partners. This not only improved the timescales but also empowered HRBP’s with more accountability for achieving their headcount.

5. Candidate attraction

Whilst the client’s recruitment website had a good hit, the application rate was poor. It was
recognised the improved job descriptions/adverts, selling the opportunity, would likely increase the application rate.

HR, the recruitment team and MANE also decided that ‘career open days’ (something MANE had been supporting with another key defence client) would be a great way to engage with potential talent, provide hiring managers and candidates the opportunities to meet one another and ultimately improve the candidate experience further.

These open days were to be held quarterly, recruitment partners would also support these events registering their candidates to attend as well as direct applicants.

MANE, HR and the clients’ internal marketing team also created a digital marketing strategy and material; this included sponsored online adverts/content, targeted online campaigns for niche skillsets and new video content to be sent to candidates prior to interview congratulating them on securing their interview, showing the campus, the facilities, interviews with recent starters and more.

6. Recruitment process timescales

This was one of the more challenging topics to address and agree. This required MANE, HR and all hiring managers to agree and adhere to a new standardised service level agreement.

The following internal SLA was agreed:

  • HR/Recruitment team to do initial approve/reject of CV’s within 24 hours of application
  • Hiring managers to review and reject or call for interview within 48 hours
  • Hiring managers to now use the clients internal AMS to provide feedback from a drop down menu for unsuccessful candidates at time of rejection
  • Recruitment to have access to hiring managers diaries and interviews to be confirmed in their diaries within 48 hours
  • Interview feedback to be provided by hiring managers within 48 hours of interview

7. The candidate experience

MANE were able to share their industry experiences, the importance of the candidate experience in a candidate driven market.

MANE, HR, the recruitment team and the internal marketing team met to discuss and agree the following improvements:

  • The improved recruitment process/timescales would massively improve the candidate experience
  • That candidate feedback should be provided to every candidate/recruitment partner at CV rejection and post interview
  • Improved job descriptions would better attract candidates and also promote the company brand and values
  • Hiring managers would have a brief ‘candidate presentation’ to share with candidates that introduced the company, the products and services, their department and where this particular opportunity sat
  • Candidate feedback surveys to be sent by client to all applicants post application, post interview, post starting. This would ensure recruitment partners are delivering a great candidate experience, as well as hiring managers.
  • MANE’s ‘candidate care program’ was also adopted by the client and shared with other recruitment partners as best practice. This including bi-weekly calls throughout the on-boarding process, 1 st day call, end of first week call, monthly candidate care calls thereafter for all placements.

The results of this exercise

MANE had agreed with the client to review the success of the review after 3 months. During this 3 months, MANE and all stakeholders were on hand to support hiring managers and kudos and feedback was provided to teams adhering to the process by a weekly email to all departments. This further helped adherence of the new SLA and process, as everyone wanted to be ‘most improved player’.

  • Vastly improved stakeholder buy in to the importance of the recruitment process and new SLA’s. All understanding their part in the process.
  • After the first month, there was an overall 73% achievement to the internal SLA timescales (prior to this exercise no data existed)
  • At the end of 3 months, there was an overall 93% achievement to the internal SLA (prior to this exercise no data existed)
  • Applications via the client's recruitment website had increased by 27% on the same period in the previous 12 months
  • The first career open day had been conducted and resulted in 33 candidates being called for an interview out of an attendance of 184
  • Candidate feedback surveys, after 3 months the candidate experience rating was rated at ‘Excellent’ by candidates going through the recruitment process in that period (prior to this exercise no data existed)

Recruitment timescales; before and after

At the time of this case study being written, the client was on-track to achieve their year 2 recruitment headcount target.

If you would like to find out more about this case study, or if your or your organisation any of the common issues addressed in this case study, contact us today on or call the defence team directly +44 (0)1923 470 750