CERN HR receives award for on-line recruitment and communication

In a survey of 21,000 European students, CERN ranked 15th, ahead of giants like Microsoft and Nestlé, for the quality of its on-line "talent communication", that is how it uses the Internet to attract job applicants. HR now boasts a new virtual award, certifying its on-line savvy.


The "virtual" award given to HR.

How did you get your job at CERN? Via the CERN HR website, or Facebook, or Twitter? Or were you headhunted on LinkedIn? Particularly if you’re from the younger generation, chances are that you used some form of on-line recruitment. In this case you will have used one of the best recruitment tools in Europe, according to the 2012 OTaC (Online Talent Communication) study, carried out by a research institute named Potentialpark. It surveyed over 21,000 students, asking them to rate employers’ use of seven different channels of communication about jobs and careers, from HR websites and on-line application systems to their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, and their blog presence in the careers field. “The only channel where CERN didn’t get a good rating was for mobile phone use, because we don’t have an app yet!” laughs James Purvis, head of Recruitment. “But our Facebook careers page ranks 10th in Europe, and our Youtube presence is very strong too.”

So what is CERN doing right, and how did the HR team get that good? “We went looking for the data,” explains Leila El Baradei, a recruitment sourcing specialist in HR. “We initially decided to improve our website a couple of years ago, so we commissioned a study by expert evaluators and then followed much of their advice. Some of it was omissions, like not explaining the application and interview procedure, but we also got input about things like corporate branding, and from there developed our strap line “Take part”. Now all our communications about jobs and careers have the same look and feel.”

“Gone are the days when you could dictate your brand,” comments James. “Today every company or organisation has a brand out there, whether they like it or not, because everybody is producing content on the web now. So we have to make sure we are in the arena influencing the brand.”

The HR team has seen palpable results from its improved talent communication. “In the past, we got an average of 30 to 50 applications for each post,” says Leila. “Today it can be anywhere between 100 and 300.” “It’s down to a real team effort: there’s not just one person behind it,” concludes James. “Everybody in the team is really proud of what they’re doing and it’s great that we’re seeing some recognition in the form of this award.”

by Joannah Caborn Wengler