Chester Zoo first started using our applicant tracking system in November 2021 following a formal tender process. Here we chat to Jennifer McDermott, Head of People & Culture at Chester Zoo, about the experience they’ve had so far of implementing Jobtrain and how they’re feeling ahead of their seasonal recruitment launch.
Why did you start looking for a new ATS and what was recruiting like before you found Jobtrain?
Shortly after I joined Chester Zoo in 2015 we went through a process of looking to purchase our first proper ATS which really supported us with our recruitment at Chester Zoo. Now a number of years down the line. Our priorities and requirements have changed - one of the main drivers for change that played a big part in our tender process, was our focus on ED&I (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) and ensuring we found an ATS that supported with this.
Here at Chester Zoo, recruitment is such a big part of what we do; we have an intake of ‘seasonals’ each year which brings on board around 500/600 people, and that’s on top of our brand-new roles too.
Attracting candidates has never been an issue for us! Everybody loves the zoo, and we have lots of candidates that are keen to work at the zoo; so our ambition was to manage that volume in the best way possible whilst at the same time providing a great experience and journey for candidates.
What made Jobtrain stand out from the other ATS providers?
We needed a provider to help us to reach our goals - a provider who we could work in partnership with. From the outset at the tender process, we could see our ethos was aligned; the focus on candidate journey stood out to us; and that the Jobtrain team are HR and recruitment experts too, was a massive plus for us.
During implementation, this expertise shone through from our Project Implementation Manager, Holly, with her experience of being in my position as a client implementing Jobtrain at a company many years ago. All the Jobtrain team has such a lot of knowledge and know-how to make things easy to understand and digest, which is so different to a lot of other software companies.
What has it been like to implement Jobtrain? Was it what you expected it to be?
At the time when we started implementation, we were a little understaffed, so the process was quite intense - we’d given ourselves some tight timescales too!
Holly has been brilliant and supportive throughout - she held our hand all the way through and helped us understand what should be prioritised over others. She was always on the end of the phone or email to help us complete tasks which was such a help.
We decided to split our implementation into two phases to focus on getting our Jobtrain system set up in the best way possible and how we wanted it. In our phase two implementation, we’re looking forward to implementing Green Room Onboarding and spending time on really thinking about engaging content and how we want this to look.
What’s your experience been with our support team?
My team have been really pleased and happy with the support they’ve had so far from them – any questions we’ve had since we went live, the support team have answered absolutely everything!
What were your main objectives when you implemented Jobtrain?
The candidate journey and the candidate experience are really important to us, and we wanted to improve this. We always want to make sure our candidates know that we care and that they’re valued - and Jobtrain will facilitate that connection with personalised engagement through features like Green Room Onboarding.
Having the tools to automate and bring our new starter packs online was really important to us too. We were using paper copies, so to bring this online with Jobtrain has been huge for us as a conservation charity that’s now on a journey towards being a zero-waste organisation – and will save my admin team so much time too!
Our other objectives were to make sure the ATS was very user-friendly for our Hiring Managers to use and engage with and to make sure it had the tools and capability that supports our focus on ED&I – and Jobtrain does just that!
Have Hiring Managers got to grips with Jobtrain?
Various departments have been hiring and advertising new roles through Jobtrain, and all our managers have managed this seamlessly.
Jobtrain was quite a big change for our Hiring Managers. Previously our authorisation to recruit (ATR) process was manual and paper based. When we brought all of this online in Jobtrain, we were apprehensive about how Hiring Managers would react, but there haven’t been any problems at all, and we can see it’s really speeding up the time it takes to advertise a vacancy. It’s been a huge timesaver for everyone, now we don’t have to chase a paper form across various desks!
What are your favourite elements of Jobtrain so far?
It’s not one feature or element as such, but our number one thing so far is the features that help us reduce the amount of paperwork and the time we can save spent on administration, like authorisation to recruit and New starter paperwork.
We really like the facility we now have to bring our job adverts to life by adding our own images and videos. It really helps them stand out and be much more engaging, building on that focus we have on the candidate journey.
What’s exceeded your expectations of Jobtrain?
From the very start, we have been blown away with Jobtrain, from the initial tender process, implementation and now with our Client Success Consultant - our expectations were very high from the off! What really impresses me though is that what we saw during the tender and demo process from Jobtrain is exactly what has been delivered.
What’s next for Chester Zoo?
Our seasonal recruitment has just launched and with the Jobtrain team’s knowledge, I’m reassured to know they’re on hand for us to check things with them - and be challenged on them if they think there’s a better way to do something.
What are your future plans with Jobtrain?
We’ll be rolling out Green Room Onboarding during our phase two implementation, and also be exploring more on reporting and using data to see how successful our first seasonal recruitment has been using Jobtrain.
We will also explore the possibility of introducing fully anonymous applications, which we know Jobtrain can do, by removing the CV from the application process to better meet our ED&I objectives.
“There was something quite special about the relationship from the outset.”
In summary, I've been really impressed and genuinely so happy with how successful our experience has been so far - we can’t wait to see what's to come in the coming months and years - it feels like a really exciting partnership!