The pain of spreadsheets
Headquartered in Brisbane, UniLodge Australia has been providing thousands of international university students with accommodation since 1996. Spanning ten cities, UniLodge has grown to develop 70+ buildings and 20,000 student accommodation offerings in Australia and New Zealand.
With a large casual workforce, UniLodge has over 550 employees in total. Recruitment Advisor Sam Smith spoke of the pain of inconsistency and overflow of using spreadsheets for three years before moving across to JobAdder.
“It was quite busy,” Sam said, adding: “We didn’t really have a single point of truth because you know an Excel spreadsheet is open to errors and there was also a lot of double up.”
“When I started with Unilodge I actually created the recruitment function,” she said. “Everyone had their own style and there were many things being missed, like reference checks and the general kind of due diligence that you would normally do when you’re bringing on an employee.” UniLodge also had numerous Seek accounts, which resulted in a lack of consistency, especially “in the way that the ads were being advertised,” she added.
A constant stream of applicants meant their recruitment process began to pile up, with three different portals to shortlist candidates. “There was so much information that was coming in that we weren’t capturing because it was too big of a task to be able to look at your talent pools properly – we were really just chasing our tails,” Sam said.
“We’re getting to that stage now where we are building our talent pools and we’re starting to look at it from a strategic approach,” she added.
The power of word-of-mouth
UniLodge took the approach of looking for an onboarding tool first, then were “patiently waiting and hoping that someday we would get a [recruitment tool],” Sam said. The decision came once UniLodge was looking at their leave and time attendance tool Connx. The decision was initially made to go with that platform, but after seeing several ex-colleagues and LinkedIn network connections post about JobAdder, Sam endeavoured to find out more. “I had two friends of mine who used to work at UniLodge but are now in other roles and using JobAdder,” she said.
“I thought, well, I’m going to give it a go, because if this is going to be something I would use every day, then I’m going to push for something that I believe is going to work better.”
Sam then commenced to do a line-by-line comparison of the functionality between the two platforms, with the help of the JobAdder sales team and then presented her findings. “The final recommendation wasn’t to go with the one [UniLodge] had already selected; it was to go with JobAdder.”
Seeing the changes
Prior to JobAdder, UniLodge was shortlisting their candidates by going through every single applicant. “We might get through 300 or 400 applications to find the top 20,” said Sam. Once there, UniLodge would start their interviewing process.
Their time to hire has exponentially improved since then. “Now we can do a boolean search and use keywords, and so many of those [400 applicants] we’re not needing to look at – that’s a lot of time-saving,” Sam explained.
Quick search has also enabled UniLodge to have a quicker shortlisting turnaround. The company is able to “present shortlisted candidates rather than going through hundreds,” said Sam. “It can probably take less than 10 minutes for me to find 10 candidates to submit,” she said, “whereas previously, you would go through the whole lot, find the top five and then send them through,” she added.
JobAdder’s intuitive platform has enabled UniLodge to find candidates more efficiently. Sam has been able to access her candidates all within their database. “We’ve also placed one role from our database, and we didn’t need to advertise because we have candidates already in there,” she said.
The importance of candidate experience
Sam felt the communication between her candidates and the platform has improved their candidate experience, which is of great importance to UniLodge.
“By having the follow-up emails, it’s got our own tone and branding,” Sam explained “All of the communications I’ve sent from the system include 30-odd email templates so we can respond to them quite quickly or even ask questions if they’ve missed out on something,” she added.
Unilodge’s job ads are also branded, as well as their website careers page. “It’s got more of a customised feel to it rather than just a Seek link, so I feel that whole package adds to our candidate experience,” Sam said. UniLodge has also taken advantage of the JobAdder video cover letter feature. “We’ve had some really great ones, and our managers are loving them as well.”
Unilodge’s onboarding and training on JobAdder were quite busy as they had over 70 hiring managers. Once they got started, “it was really good – we have a tool that works for us,” Sam said. Their team also completed three online training sessions, where Sam felt she had more of an understanding of the platform as she did the first initial demo and had worked her way through the system.
“I knew where things were, all the admin spaces in the background and that started to make sense to me in regards to the actual application process – but now it’s second nature to us,” she said.
Sam doesn’t have to worry if someone is away or on sick leave as their team has picked up the JobAdder platform quickly. “We’ve trained two other team members on how to use JobAdder,” Sam said. “It’s definitely something that is easy to get into and it’s easy to manage people that haven’t had a lot of training as well.”
When it came to the JobAdder support team, Sam felt they were “amazing. It’s at that stage where they’re going, ‘Hi, Sam,’ because they know my number on the phone,” she said, “so the support is definitely there.”
Improvement in efficiencies
Sam has recommended the platform to many friends and colleagues, but felt the top three key points she would mention to anyone looking for an ATS included the support and customer service, the ability to develop talent pools and the ROI.
The support team has provided “so much follow up. It’s not just a tick and flick ‘here’s your tool, see you later, you’ll never hear from us’. It’s been very involved and a very supportive learning environment,” she added.
The point of difference? “I could call five times a day and still hear a chirpy person on the other end of the phone ready to help me.”
The return on investment has been the ability to show “statistics to the business, not just in dollars but in efficiencies.” For example, UniLodge’s hiring managers were previously typing and then scanning a form. Sam explained that she would find the manager to sign it, and “then it would go between people, it would get lost and it was a really lengthy process.”
Thankfully, now they can submit it themselves. “I’ve got a visual of where that approval process is,” Sam said. “I can hurry it up if I’ve seen it sitting there for a couple of days and hiring managers don’t need to recreate the wheel,” she added.
For example, if a hiring manager consistently has five of the same role, they can simply “update the date or salary. They also have the ability to shortlist and view candidates from their end without printing anything out,” Sam explained.
“Our hiring managers love the Hiring Manager portal.”
UniLodge’s growing future
UniLodge’s future strategy is focused upwards. “We’ve got new buildings opening all the time, so we will continue to grow,” Sam said. She added that UniLodge opens around five new buildings every year. “We just had one open about a month ago, we’ve got another in construction and another later this year – this is pretty standard for us, but continual growth,” she added.
Currently, UniLodge has a portion of their business that they don’t hire for, called residential advisors. “It’s like a senior resident that lives on-site in our studio accommodation complexes,” Sam explained, where “around 150 to 200 of them a year are hired,” she said.
Over the next month, UniLodge will bring all of that in-house, where their hiring managers will be set up on the Hiring Manager portal and be able to raise a requisition. “We’ll post the ads but the hiring managers will be doing all the shortlisting and interviewing,” Sam said. “Once they’ve got a suitable placement, we’ll place them and then onboard them through. That will significantly increase the traffic through JobAdder.”
The next step is a trial that Sam will soon try at one of their properties, who are currently receiving hundreds of CVs and emails. “They’re manually printing all the CVs out, so we’re just trying to bring in those efficiencies for the rest of the business,” Sam said.
Sam had one more comment to add. “The support and customer service have been exceptional. I have often felt that once I’ve signed a contract with a provider that’s kind of where their interest level drops, and it hasn’t happened with JobAdder.”