Bill Boorman, Founder, #tru

He’s known as “the One in the Hat” and “the King of Social Recruiting” – but to recruiters both in the UK and around the world, Bill Boorman is recognised for tearing up the rules of professional gatherings and creating popular knowledge-sharing events called #tru, The Recruiting Unconference.

For the last decade, Bill has taken his #tru events to five continents and numerous countries and cities around the world, creating a social movement of recruiters, recruitment technology experts and assorted professionals. To quote Bill, “An unconference is a gathering of minds, experiences and opinions where active participants lead the conversation.” His unconferences have four rules: No presentations, no Power Point, no name badges and no pitching. And in addition to embedding his unconference un-model in the recruitment culture, Bill is an advisor and consultant to corporates and tech companies. His credo of never wearing a suit, always wearing a hat and penchant for memorable t-shirts has contributed to his legend as both a beloved and respected figure in contemporary recruitment.

Danny Brooks: CEO, VHR

VHR is a global technical recruitment consultancy serving the aerospace, automotive, engineering, defence and marine industries across 50 countries. VHR has 90 employees, nine global offices and boasts a £36m turnover – a far cry from 2003, when Danny Brooks re-mortgaged his house and sold his car to launch VHR.

  • VHR joined with airlines Etihad and Lufthansa to begin designing new training courses to upskill and migrate workers from around the world. VHR sourced and trained all individuals, organising medical support, flights, accommodation, visas and references, and worked with Etihad to monitor performance.
  • In 2019 Danny ran the London Marathon, cycled across Australia for charity and led VHR’s employees in nine charity activities, including paying personally to send two employees to India to build a school and support the local community.
  • At Danny’s instigation, VHR has rolled out a bonus scheme to employees at its most junior levels, including in finance, compliance, marketing, operations and HR. Bespoke bonus schemes ensure that, rather than just rewarding sales staff, each employee across departments sees the direct result of their efforts, and is rewarded for their hard work.
  • Danny has acted as a mentor for junior staff members since VHR’s inception. In 2012 and 2013, Azem Hoti and Rebecca Fagan joined VHR as 17-year-old apprentices; and in 2019 both were promoted for the third time and now run their own departments.
  • The judges were impressed with how Danny aims to transform recruitment industry working practices through VHR’s learning and development focus, which challenges the industry’s historic ‘hiring and firing’ nature.

Judges’ comments: “Danny understands the market he operates in and creates innovative solutions. He has an impact on the wider society, taking accountability for the ethical impact outside the day-to-day running of a recruitment company. Authentic and diverse in his own workforce.”

The Food & Beverage Candidate Experience – National Trust

This was a strongly contested category, which made it difficult for the judges to choose between the shortlist. The National Trust came out as the eventual winner with its recruitment for its food & beverage roles.

  • In a candidate-driven job market, applicants often seek out the National Trust, so it comes down to a great candidate experience to recruit successfully and attract the best. The candidate experience mirrors the visitor journey, so both have a pleasurable experience with working for the Trust and visiting Trust venues.
  • Achieved a better hiring process in food & beverage roles through clearer adverts, simpler recruitment processes, implementing strengths-based recruitment via a situational strengths test, reacting quickly to all applications, using supportive interview techniques, ensuring everyone has feedback opportunities and a dedicated point of contact.
  • To ensure the Trust doesn’t waste candidates’ time, it is made clear within its adverts the steps that it takes to be successful, when they will hear from the Trust, and what to expect moving forwards.
  • More personable interviewing so applicants can get a feel for the Trust’s food & beverage outlets, such as a relaxed ‘Coffee Meet’ in this environment, leading to the potential of a ‘Trial Interview’ or ‘Property Tour’.
  • Although the Trust is known as an employer of choice when it comes to historic buildings and parks, its generally not known for its cafés or eating establishments. Along with its wage restrictions as a charity, this means that when it finds talent it’s essential the candidate experience is significant to stop the Trust re-recruiting on a regular basis.
  • The National Trust aims to capture better talent, onboard them comprehensively, and offers career development and training opportunities to achieve longevity. Its new processes have helped the number of applications increase by 18%.

Judges’ comments: “The National Trust applied a personal touch to the recruitment process – meeting and engaging candidates in the hospitality industry in this way is a fantastic method of ensuring fit from both the candidate and employer perspective.”

Cisco Leaders of Tomorrow are the New University Grads of Today – Cisco

Global technology company Cisco hires university graduates from more than 60 countries every year. The Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP) is a global early-in-career onboarding programme that brings a pipeline of diverse graduate talent for Associate Sales Engineers (ASE) and Associate Sales Representatives (ASR) roles.

  • The judges were very impressed with the programme’s diversity recruitment, which is vital to match Cisco’s customers. Diversity applies to both female/male equality, as well as visible minorities.
  • As Cisco’s business is global, CSAP must recruit, hire, train and deliver client-ready sales associates in multiple countries. CSAP supplies an ongoing pipeline of talent for Cisco, develops Cisco’s future leaders and continues to hire a strong female presence.
  • Cisco is constantly experimenting with new ways of recruiting. This includes AI (artificial intelligence), EQ (emotional intelligence) and Virtual Reality (VR). Digital videos have now taken the place, in most countries, of in-person interviews.
  • Cisco organises a nine-week summer programme in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia to hire university students to intern at Cisco for 2-3 years before fast-tracking them into the CSAP programme. It establishes a loyalty, which results in high conversions to the CSAP programme, reducing the cost of recruiting. Interns stay engaged with Cisco when they return to their universities through the ‘Cisco Street Team’ program.
  • Impressive success in diversity hiring: the 50% male/50% female goal has been achieved in each of the last five years in every country; increasing the number of African-American hires in the US, with the Historical Black Colleges initiative raising African-American diversity in CSAP Americas from 3% in 2013 to 14% in 2019.
  • CSAP-ers stay for many reasons, including the fact that they have formed life-long friends within their CSAP Tribe. The CSAP Program runs on the principles of teamwork, operational excellence and repeatable process. The team reviews feedback (qualitative and quantitative) daily to make the recruitment and hiring process better, year-on-year, for prospective candidates.

Judges’ comments: “A truly holistic approach, from attraction, to ‘keeping warm content-based information’. Impressive African-American hiring as well as strong retention, with very limited attrition.”

Virgin Media Apprentices – Virgin Media in partnership with Amberjack

Virgin Media relies on an army of skilled engineers who maintain the ultrafast network, but with an ageing population, the company needed to nurture the pipeline of talent necessary to take its business into the future.

  • Virgin Media became one of the first private companies in the UK to launch a structured part-time apprenticeship scheme to make the programme more inclusive and diverse than before.
  • Apprenticeships are now offered in a range of non-conventional business areas including HR, legal, finance and data analytics, as well as the more traditional disciplines.
  • The company understands that not every apprentice finds it easy to learn in the same environment, so apprentices who have literacy and numeracy challenges receive tailored, individual support to ensure they reach their full potential.
  • Making apprenticeships as flexible and inclusive as possible has meant that over the past year the apprentice recruitment process has been upgraded. As a result, the number of females applying to engineering roles increased from 11% at application stage to 16% at offers made.
  • To unite the Liberty Global and Virgin Media brands, the company created universal recruitment processes for apprentices, placements and graduates. The new apprentice recruitment process inspired, engaged and identified the talented candidates who could adapt to change quickly, pursue innovation and drive business growth.
  • Given the age profile of many apprentice candidates, Virgin Media felt it was important to engage parents and carers too. The company created an overview of what parents needed to know about its apprenticeship schemes, helping them understand what apprenticeships involve. ‘What parents need to know’ provided all the information and advice parents and carers needed to support their children in making the decision to apply for one of Virgin’s schemes.

Judges’ comments: Virgin Media has innovative assessments and including parents is fantastic. Part-time apprentice scheme is innovative to help inclusion.

Leaders of the Future – North Yorkshire Police in partnership with Cappfinity

As the UK’s largest single county force, North Yorkshire Police needs to continuously respond to the changing nature of demand for policing. The new recruitment and assessment process required a focus on values and culture that also complemented the current policing competency framework. Strengths were identified as the best way to unlock this potential.

  • In a world with ever evolving threats with consistent changes in complexity, policing in 2025 will look and feel significantly different. North Yorkshire Police realised it would no longer be able to rely predominantly on traditional recruitment methods and approaches.
  • Through its police officer promotion boards, the force realised that interviews were a ‘rehearsed’ process – candidates would spend days if not weeks rehearsing competency-based examples, giving no opportunity for applicants to bring their best self to the interview and demonstrate their true potential. Developing a strengths-levelled framework allowed the force to tailor its approach for different levels and ranks across the force to ensure that the content and candidate experience was appropriate.
  • A range of innovative assessment tools including an online immersive assessment, strengths-based interview, virtual reality and micro exercises were introduced. This strengths-based recruitment moved away from the ‘evidence-based’ competency approach that is an embedded process across the policing culture.
  • To deliver the new process, the Talent Team needed the support of the entire force, so gaining buy-in from the Chief Officer Team from the outset was paramount. Didn’t want the perception that this was just another ‘fad from HR’, so having the full support of the Chief Officer Team was critical to the success.
  • The legacy has shown that challenging the status quo and taking a leap of faith has very quickly become one of North Yorkshire Police’s unique selling points, receiving interest from senior leaders in other forces nationally, as well as the College of Policing.

Judges’ comments: “Showcases how they challenged the status quo, blending technology and innovation for better outcomes for police recruitment, without using tech for tech’s sake. The approach showed marked improvement in creating a fair experience for candidates and has attracted interest from other forces – and the College of Policing – who now want to share this best practice.”

Ready for ANYTHING? – The AA in partnership with TMP and PeopleScout

Challenging the public’s perception of the only roles on offer at the vehicle breakdown service company were roadside ones, the AA decided it needed to engage a wider audience and attract the diversity of candidates needed to fill its broad spectrum of roles.

  • Working with talent solutions communications agency TMP, a PeopleScout Company, the AA launched a dynamic employer brand and message that brought the AA culture and diversity of opportunity to life.
  • The brand development began with research to understand public perceptions and competitor market positions. The message that was heard over and over again: people thrive on going the extra mile to help customers. This led to the core employer brand message: ‘Ready for ANYTHING?’.
  • The attention-grabbing activity included a presence on its website, where visitors can view the light-hearted ‘Almost every role you can imagine’ film, see engaging people stories and realistic job profiles, to a social media hub and interactive 3D imagery.
  • ‘Ready for ANYTHING?’ challenges ran in Birmingham and Newcastle shopping centres, in a Saturday night gameshow-style, aimed at attracting potential contact centre candidates. There were laughs, prize money and a surge in careers site traffic.
  • The company’s values and employee value proposition made a real impact in its 24-hour live adventure, headed by former Special Forces soldier Ant Middleton. Six brave AA employees went into the wilderness, tackling challenges chosen by the public via social media to vote on what they’d face.
  • The cheeky brand mascot AAbot has mobilised a new generation of employer brand advocates. AAbot has also been at the heart of social media and external recruitment campaigns, appearing on taxi wraps and local football terraces. More recently, he became the star of #wheresbotbeen social media competition.
  • All the initiatives have led to record-high direct hires – up 38% to 95%. The AA has also moved from 60% agency use to less than 5% in 30 months – saving £7m per year.

Judges’ comments: “In a very competitive category, The AA was a clear winner, bringing a smile to the judges’ faces! Impressive results and cost savings. Loved the bot!”

Global TA Team, Mondelez International

Multinational confectionery, food, holding and beverage company Mondelez International’s Global Talent Acquisition (TA) team consists of just under 320, operating across 165 countries. The Global TA team in its current form was formed in 2016. Before then, recruitment was decentralised, with a high-reactive, agency-driven environment.

  • The team operates across four regions and 24 different time zones, with a matrix structure of TA Centre of Excellence (COE) for mid-career to senior executive level roles and three shared service centres (one in each region) that service the higher volume and lower level roles below mid-career.
  • Built a Global TA Leadership team, which consists of 13 regional and global TA leader roles – now aligned to Mondelēz’s recent geographical BU (Business Unity) model restructure in Q4 of 2018.
  • Launched a new global Onboarding programme called ‘Starting Here’, coupled with its Learning Program, the TA Academy and Mondelēz International University.
  • Launched and adopted the Avature CRM (customer relationship management) system and rolled out its new Employer Brand Proposition in 2019.
  • The team overcame many challenges of bringing a CRM into a large global organisation, implementing large-scale tech and engaging a large and diverse TA team in utilising this from day one.
  • Included active participation from Global TA COE leaders, and introduced ‘Mondelēz’s Got Talent!’. Through this three-month competition, the company created 5,857 prospects, with 2,000 ‘kept warm’ and 104 hires.
  • Globally the team achieved a phenomenal 384 hires attributed to Avature in the first year, which it estimates to have saved $5.76m (£4.46m) had it had to use outside agencies instead of sourcing these candidates.

Judges’ comments: “The judges were unanimous in selecting Mondelez as the outright winner of this category. The team demonstrated outstanding innovation with brilliant outcomes. The employer brand toolbox and cookbook, and the onboarding programme ‘Starting Here’ are world class.”

NES Global Talent

NES Global Talent delivers international workforce solutions across the energy, life sciences, chemicals and mining sectors, dealing with 12,500 contractors through 66 offices globally.

  • With just five people (three of them new in the last 12 months), the team is responsible for content creation and strategy, internal and external communications, PR, digital marketing including social media management, email marketing and enhancing our website, graphic design and event management.
  • A few of the main projects the team has undertaken include sales campaigns in the Americas, initiating a podcast channel, growing the firm’s social media following and engagement, and conducting a survey with over 30,000 oil & gas professionals and subsequently releasing a report about the energy market.
  • The survey, which was carried out in conjunction with job board Oil and Gas Job Search, provided crucial insight into global industry trends and further demonstrated NES Global Talent’s thought leadership.
  • The company’s social media growth was unprecedented: overall follower count on LinkedIn rose by 58.15% to 487,894 followers, and Facebook followers rose by an outstanding 2,022.67% at 99,000.
  • The judges said this team does what a marketing team should – they’ve produced impressive year-on-year growth, they’ve grown in every sector and they can measure it.

Judges’ comments: “NES Global’s survey provides fantastic insight, and they complemented it with multichannel thought leadership and content, making themselves stand out in their field.”

Rare Recruitment

Rare Recruitment was founded in 2005 as a direct response to the lack of ethnic diversity represented in the graduate pool hired to enter elite professions.

  • The judges said this is what recruitment should be about – changing people’s lives for the better, rather than “stuffing people into jobs”. To quote one of the testimonials: “Rare’s for anyone who wants to be more than what society might tell you that you can be.”
  • Rare offers a number of highly competitive introductory career programmes, such as Articles, an award-winning programme for brilliant BAME candidates interested in applying for vacation work schemes and training contracts with our legal clients.
  • Advancing Black Leaders (ABL) is a new programme Rare created for JP Morgan to help redress the underrepresentation of black heritage undergrads in their internship talent pipeline.
  • Becoming a Rare candidate quite literally changes the course of a young person’s life. These undergraduates get a direct connection to some of the most prestigious employers in the country. The consistently high level of preparedness that clients experience from Rare candidates at interview means that Rare has been able to both create tailored offerings for each firm and to continue expanding the number of candidates, year-on-year.

Judges’ comments: “Rare was rare indeed. Their direct response to the lack of ethnic diversity represented in the graduate pool to hire into elite professions is leading-edge for the future of inclusivity. The submission was highly evidence based with huge positive impact on candidates who are overrepresented within lower socio-economic groups and who are, in turn, underrepresented at prestigious graduate employers.”

Also: In this category, the judges said it was great to see so many emotional stories describing how candidates have been supported. Not only the winner, but each finalist had real impact and showed both a personal touch with a strong focus on D&I.