Spring Clean Your Recruitment Technology With Nathan Colman

CLARE RYDER • 18 May 2020

Giles Heckstall-Smith was joined by Nathan Colman, a former client of Jobtrain and an expert in resourcing.

We first met Nathan about 4 years ago when he ran a very thorough research, procurement and implementation process at Star Academies. Nathan has worked in recruitment for the last 6 years, mostly in the Education sector. He said:

“Technology isn’t synonymous with Recruitment and HR and the key is always looking at what tech we need and trying to make money stretch as far as possible, being creative and ensuring the best return on our investment.”

Giles and Nathan in conversation - watch it back 👆

Nathan and Giles specifically discussed:

  • Are there gaps in knowledge or opportunities to take advantage of underused features or additional automation?
  • Awareness of all the latest enhancements and how to use them
  • Have your processes changed and does the ATS support them?
  • Spring clean, review the scope and set-up of your ATS with the provider

Giles in conversation with Nathan Colman

Giles Heckstall-Smith and Nathan Colman

We are in a period of uncertainty, and for some recruiters who aren’t as busy as usual, it’s a good opportunity for a bit of housekeeping. Like our mobile phones, there are so many features in our recruitment technology that we do not use or get the time to explore.


Are there features that spring to mind that are overlooked?

The key word is automation. Anything to streamline and automate processes is vital. So many organisations have complex functions with comprehensive recruitment processes. There is a huge amount of value to add by streamlining and standardising processes and bringing them online. At Star Academies, we had 30 sites using different application forms, application processes and job descriptions. We brought this all together, centralising the service, making life easier for Hiring Managers and recruiters and it was Jobtrain that allowed us to do that.

Whilst it’s important, automation must be a step by step process. We thought we would automate the entire recruitment process, but the business wasn’t ready for that level of automation. We knew where we wanted to get to with the technology, but we had to introduce changes in carefully planned stages that were well communicated across the business.

With automation n mind, are there any quick wins you would recommend that people could do right now?

Self-service interview booking for candidates is one that has great results. Opening interview slots for candidates to select their preferred time makes the whole interview booking process easier for recruiters and for candidates. We found that this also helped our Hiring Managers to invest in the changes as they could provide their availability early in the process and interviews that were booked went straight into their calendar as well.

Another quick win for us was automating the offer process for candidates. The ATS constantly gathers information about the job and candidate, so generating offer letters and sending these straight to the candidate really helped streamline our offer process.

How do you manage the strict compliance check requirements that are in place for new starters?

In the Education sector there are around 22 individual pre-employment checks to undertake for each new employee. One of the biggest challenges we face as recruiters in Education is the three periods in a year where teachers become available and therefore all schools advertise and recruit at the same time. The market during this time becomes saturated so we need to move quickly and keep our processes simple. This also causes problems for onboarding - a teacher recruited in April to start in September could have a five-month onboarding process. It is important to keep candidates warm during this time so we looked at how we could use technology to drip feed information to new starters, such as access to training policies, providing a tour of the school alongside information about the school culture and ethos.

With a five month gap between offer and start, how do you combat the risk of attrition?

We are lucky in that we very seldom have candidates dropping out when they have accepted an offer, but we are careful to avoid the black hole in onboarding. We ensure throughout the recruitment and onboarding process that we position ourselves as an employer of choice. We keep candidates engaged by sending a monthly newsletter and other updates, so they feel part of the organisation before their first day.

Other ideas include a welcome video from the Head of Department or Head Teacher which can be achieved with minimum cost and maximum engagement.

How do you ensure technology supports your recruitment process?

The very first thing we did even before looking at ATS providers, was plotting out our current recruitment process and identifying where the pain points were. We included all key stakeholders such as Hiring Managers and the Recruitment team so we all had a real understanding of what the new process needed to look like. It was important to make the new process feel familiar but with more automation so it would get less push back from others in the business.

Star Academies media rich advert

You can’t have a ‘set up and forget’ mentality, when implementing any type of tech. It’s a living project so I would always recommend going live, then regularly reviewing your process and technology platform to make sure it still works for you.

Do you have any advice on how to best engage with tech providers?

My initial specification for an ATS was a wish list of everything I wanted the software to do. Jobtrain had far more than what we needed for launch and two months in, we pushed back on the ‘nice to have’ and moved them into different phases. It’s important to have flexibility with tech providers so you’re implementing functionality that is right for your business but that can be easily scaled up (or down) when the time is right.

Communication is also key. It sounds so simple but if something isn’t going right, put your hand up and say. Jobtrain helped us to shape the implementation project to provide exactly what we needed. Another key recommendation is to make sure the tech provider can grow with you as an organisation. Scope out where your growth will be and ensure the provider can deliver against your plan.

We’ve seen some of your fantastic job adverts, did you bring marketing on board to help with the content?

We were really lucky in that our Head of Marketing was passionate about recruitment so it was a great opportunity to bring them into the ATS project. We needed advert copy that had a consistent tone and the language needed to be right to reflect our warm and inclusive culture. We used snippets of language from across the business, our media rich adverts looked fantastic, showed our vision, were clear and concise and the final product involved all areas of the business.

We’re really happy with the recruitment technology that we implemented and have seen some fantastic benefits as a result but it’s important to make sure we don’t sit still and continue to ‘spring clean’ our processes and technology where we need to.

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