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How Hot Topic Optimizes High-volume Hiring with a 4-person Recruiting Team

With retail stores throughout the United States and Canada, it’s no surprise that Hot Topic and BoxLunch received roughly 300,000 unique applicants last year. What is surprising, however, is that a Talent Acquisition team of only four people manages that high-volume hiring. At this year’s Talent Innovation Summit, Johnny Sanchez, Head of Recruiting at Hot Topic and BoxLunch, shared how his team is optimizing their recruitment process—and how you can do the same.

1) They get a lay of the land

No matter the state of your recruiting function, begin your optimization process by getting a lay of the land. Utilize your available data to understand your business challenges and opportunities for improvement. In Johnny’s case, he quickly found that their applicant tracking system had very little useful data—in part because it only had five percent adoption (they’ve since made the switch to Lever). He turned to Google Analytics and surveys, and discovered two major opportunities for improvement right away. First, they had a 75 percent application abandonment rate. The best candidates were probably never considered for roles because their information was never captured. Second, Store Managers didn’t even have time to review all the applications they did receive, creating a poor candidate experience.

2) They create a game plan

Once you know where you are, you can create a path to where you want to go. Johnny suggests starting down that path with the end in mind. In his case, he wanted to streamline the application and screening process. He knew that building his team to accommodate high-volume hiring would be a considerable investment, and instead turned to technology solutions. In order to get executive buy-in, built a case for how a new applicant tracking system and candidate screening tool would allow store managers to focus more of their time on sales, rather than recruiting. In this manner, he could prove that an investment in recruiting would positively impact revenue and add to the business’ bottom line. They’ve since implemented Lever and Ideal, a machine-learning candidate screening tool.

3) They lather, rinse, repeat

After implementing solutions, measure your results and adjust as needed—recruitment program optimization an ongoing process. Johnny says his Hiring Managers love Lever, and that they’ve seen a high adoption rate. Their application process has been reduced from 35 minutes to 2 minutes and their screening process has made them more efficient without increasing the headcount in Talent Acquisition. They have improved their cost per hire, interview to hire ratio, speed to hire, and quality of hire. Johnny estimates that this strategy has resulted in a 25 percent increase in store output, which could easily result in millions of dollars of value across all retail locations. Now they will continue to optimize other areas, perhaps looking next at a chatbot to further improve the candidate experience.

Conclusion

By utilizing data to uncover opportunities for improvement, the recruiting team at Hot Topic was able to optimize their high-volume hiring program. Using machine learning to screen candidates at scale allowed them to build a stronger, more efficient recruitment process. Johnny believes that recruiting is one of most strategic, important things a company does—but if rarely gets the recognition or investment it deserves. Improve your outcomes by starting with the end in mind, making data-driven decisions, and tying your strategy to revenue. In doing so, the Talent Acquisition function can stop being seen as a cost center, and can instead be seen as a strategic business partner.