In Data-Driven Recruiting episode #61, CodeSignal Co-Founder Sophia Baik talks with guest Christopher Mannion, Global Head of Talent Acquisition Process and Innovation at Wayfair, about optimizing recruiting operations with process improvements grounded in data.
For small and medium-sized businesses, recruiting happens with a small team of hiring managers, recruiters, and maybe (if you’re lucky!) a recruiting coordinator. For a large enterprise company like Wayfair, recruiting happens on a totally different scale.
With over 16,000 employees serving 4 markets and a team of recruiters numbering in the hundreds, Wayfair needed a way to optimize the efficiency of its recruiting as the business grew rapidly. That’s where Christopher Mannion, Global Head of Talent Acquisition Process and Innovation at Wayfair, came into the picture.
A new perspective on recruiting at scale
Unlike many leaders in the recruiting space, Mannion did not start his career as a recruiter. Before attending business school, he served as an Aerospace Engineer in the UK Royal Navy. It is this engineering background that inspires Mannion’s approach to optimizing recruiting at Wayfair.
So when Mannion formed a team around improving recruiting processes in 2019, he applied his “operational lens” to identify inefficiencies and develop solutions. The problem his team confronted, however, was a confounding one.
“What we found was that as the [recruiting] team size increased, the actual hiring efficiency went down over time,” said Mannion. “Even though we invested in a number of different platforms, tools, and resources in order to deliver hires more quickly, we couldn’t quite get on top of the demand the business was facing.”
An experimental approach to process improvement
To address the recruiting process inefficiencies they were seeing, Mannion’s team did more than look at the common metrics like time-to-hire, cost of hire, and quality of hire. They also thought through recruiting at Wayfair from the perspective of how candidates move through the funnel—something Wayfair was already well-versed in doing when it came to thinking about how their customers move through the buying journey.
His team started by looking at one of the recruiting org’s top priorities: increasing Product Manager hires. To do this, they started where a candidate would start on their own application journey—with the Wayfair jobs page. What Mannion and his team saw there were “70 different Product Manager roles, each slightly different.”
What a candidate couldn’t see was that, behind the scenes, all these open Product Manager roles were at widely varying stages and priority levels. Some roles had just opened, while for others, the hiring team was close to closing a candidate. If a candidate were to apply to the latter, they may never make it to an interview—even if they’d be a great fit for a similar open position.
“Many of [these roles] are similar enough that asking a candidate to self-select into which they are the best fit for is potentially not setting them up successfully,” Mannion explained.
So, his team conducted an experiment. Rather than separately listing all open Product Manager positions on the Wayfair jobs site, they opted to list just four. After a candidate had applied, the recruiter would then match them to a specific role.
The result of this experiment? A 50 percent increase in hires per recruiter, said Mannion. On top of that, a better experience for recruiters, who were now able to “source” candidates for specific roles from a larger pool of applicants.
This experiment kickstarted a range of other initiatives that Mannion’s team has launched since then. As his team moves from developing streamlined processes and implementing automation where needed, Mannion looks forward to tackling more ambitious and aspirational projects with his team.
His vision for the future of recruiting operations at Wayfair? “Moving away from making hiring more efficient to really building teams more effectively.”
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