CERN HR receives award for online recruitment

In a survey of 21,000 European students, CERN ranked 15th, ahead of giants like Microsoft and Nestlé, for the quality of its online "talent communication"; how it uses the internet to attract job applicants. HR now boasts a virtual award to certify its online savvy.

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 you used some form of online recruitment. In this case you will have used one of the best recruitment tools in Europe, according to the 2012 Online Talent Communication (OTaC) study, carried out by the research institute Potentialpark. It asked students to rate employers’ use of seven different channels of communication about jobs and careers, from HR websites and online application systems to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, through to 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!” says head of recruitment James Purvis. “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,” says 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.”

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.” James says the success is down to team effort. “Everybody in the team is really proud of what they’re doing and it’s great that we’re seeing recognition in the form of this award.”