The resourcing function at mobile phone giant, Three, has undergone a major transformation in the last 12 months, putting it in strong position to attract and retain top talent in one of the most competitive sectors around. Chad Horne, Head of Resourcing, talks about his approach to the challenges he has faced.

As the first anniversary of his appointment as Head of Resourcing at Three approaches, Chad Horne talks about the challenges he faced and the approach he's taking to overhauling the mobile giant's resourcing function.

When I joined Three in the summer of 2014 it was clear that the resourcing function was very traditional in both its structure and approach.

I inherited a team that was working in a very transactional and reactive way and knew that we needed to shift to a far more strategic model if we were going to be best in class.

In the early days we were effectively back loading all of our time instead of looking forwards in a structured way. We were advertising roles and crossing our fingers, hoping the best candidates would apply. At the same time, we were so busy interviewing clients face to face that we didn't have the time to think about proactive sourcing.

I was determined to move away from a model that gave a very high level of service to the senior managers – essentially holding their hands through the entire hiring process – but that took our attention away from doing the effective selection we needed.

The first task was to move away from default advertising. We also began to challenge our source of hire and aim to get a better understanding of the cost of hire. We moved the focus more towards what the business needed from a strategic workforce perspective and began the process of building proper talent pools and equipping managers with better selection tools.

In order to do this we quite quickly had to find ways of demonstrating the business benefits of this new approach, which involved getting to some hard numbers to demonstrate the cost effectiveness of a proactive approach.

It was particularly important to demonstrate the potential commercial impact of getting our resourcing wrong.

Take the candidate experience, for example. At Three we have around 100,000 applications a year and we hire an average of about 3,000. So that's 97,000 people we're rejecting every year. My message to the team and the business was that if we make 97,000 people feel that they've been through a very negative process a) they probably won't want to apply to the company again b) they won't want to engage with us as a business on things like social media and c) if they're not a customer now, they certainly won't be in future.

It really hits home when the business starts to think about commercial impact of 97,000 lost customers at our average margin per user.

At the same time as improving the external candidate experience, we've been working on a parallel strategy to increase the number of internal hires. It makes sense because all the research shows that if you have strong internal mobility plans, your employees are more engaged, they stay for longer, the cost of hire reduces and you have a more productive workforce because they're able to get up to speed faster than someone from a different organisation.

We've started on a journey in terms of our resourcing that will stand us in good stead regardless of what the future holds. We're not a Google or John Lewis yet, but as our recent placing in the annual Glassdoor survey as the 7th best company to work for in the UK indicates, I believe we're well on the way.

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