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ABB’s Journey from Paper Resumes to Digital Recruitment

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Since ABB operates in the fields of industrial power, robotics, and automation, the company is used to being at the forefront of technological innovation. But even technological change must begin with people. Bill Fowles spoke with Profile Magazine in a recent interview about how ABB transformed its talent sourcing practice in order to maintain an edge in the competitive industrial engineering industry.

Bringing the Agency In-house by Going Digital

Like many firms, ABB used to rely on a combination of conventional resume-collecting and third-party recruitment agencies to fulfill their talent needs. When the company hired Bill Fowles to join their US talent team in 2013, they were ready for a change. Fowles was already a veteran talent sourcer, having worked for over two decades at Fortune 500 firms. Given his experience, he knew that the market for top talent was already cutthroat, and that the thriving economy was shifting the scales in favor of job-seekers. It was incumbent on ABB to take a proactive approach, rather than waiting for the right candidates to come knocking.

The cornerstone of ABB’s new strategy? Technology. “We’re in a mobile world,” said Fowles, “and if your company isn’t able to connect and message consistently, candidates will go to companies that do connect. So, we began to leverage our digital capabilities, and we’ve become more agile and fluid.”

ABB chose Avature to support its digital initiative, implementing the candidate relationship management solution. With Avature CRM, the company’s recruiters are empowered to track the full journey of each candidate from sourcing to onboarding, and recruiters can access candidate profiles that have been generated in any of the company’s offices. ABB has reduced recruiting costs while registering sustained improvement in time-to-fill and quality of hire metrics. And they’ve even eliminated all those dusty boxes filled with old paper resumes.

Marketing to Candidates

For many organizations, building brand recognition among job applicants can feel like a natural extension of their existing product marketing efforts. As an industrial supplier, however, ABB was not accustomed to marketing directly to consumers. Fowles and his team focused on publishing employee testimonial videos on social media channels in order to grow ABB’s recognition and educate potential candidates about the company culture. “We wanted to… show that our employees were brand ambassadors for ABB here in this region,” said Fowles.

The results were striking: in three and a half years, ABB’s Linkedin followership increased by over 1000 percent to reach 800,000, and the videos were viewed more than 20,000 times. Fowles noted that the push not only has increased brand awareness among potential hires, but ABB’s own employees have shown increased interest in participating in the effort as well. “More and more of our employees are seeing the opportunity to share stories and really get more involved in social media, which has really made the difference.”

Reaching Untapped Talent Pools

More than just improving standard recruiting metrics, leveraging Avature CRM has allowed ABB to transform its incoming workforce. Fowles’ team has the ability to access and maintain contact with candidates who otherwise would have gone unnoticed or who would have been lost in thick stacks of paper resumes. One employee was hired two years after their first contact with ABB at a recruiting event–Avature enabled recruiters to keep the candidate in their talent pool until the right opportunity became available.

ABB also has leveraged Avature CRM’s measurement and reporting tools to support the company’s diversity efforts. By identifying and tracking talent pool demographics, ABB was able to decide on which demographics it wanted to target–and see which strategies were effective at attracting them. Now, the company attends recruiting events hosted by the Society of Women Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Fowles said that ABB also has made specific outreach efforts to target students, veterans, and individuals with disabilities.

Although ABB has already seen results from its initiative, it is not resting on its laurels. With Avature CRM, the recruiting department is positioned to quickly take action on its next strategic HR plan. “We’re a company known for our innovation,” said Fowles, “so this journey that we’re on today is not over.”

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