Johnson & Johnson Takes Steps to Make Hiring 'Shine'
The pharmaceutical and health-services company wants to turn its hiring process into a competitive advantage.
By Andrew R. McIlvaine
When Sjoerd Gehring joined Johnson & Johnson two and a half years ago as its global vice president for talent acquisition, he and his boss -- Chief Human Resources Officer Peter Fasolo -- shared the same vision: To reimagine the global healthcare and pharmaceutical company's recruitment process into a consumer-friendly experience that would engage candidates, rather than turn them off.
"Recruiting, in general, hasn't seen the same level of disruption that other industries have during the last 10 years," says Gehring. "But we've started to see in job candidates the same expectations for a consumer-like experience that they're getting elsewhere."
Candidates certainly weren't getting this sort of experience at J&J. Through a series of surveys and focus groups, Gehring learned that candidates felt frustrated by an overall lack of transparency in their dealings with the company.
"People would see a great job opportunity, they'd apply, and then never hear back -- we heard that from people literally thousands of times," he says.
Gehring and his team searched the marketplace for a new hiring platform that would help them realize their vision of a consumer-friendly candidate experience, but came up empty handed. So they decided to create a custom solution. The new platform, Johnson & Johnson Shine, is a digital, mobile-friendly application that lets candidates track their applications similar to how customers can track their FedEx or UPS packages from Amazon. It also comes equipped with jobseeker advice in the form of articles and videos, created in partnership with The Muse, that's custom fit to a candidate's immediate needs -- for example, a candidate with an upcoming interview at J&J will see articles featuring tips and tricks on how to prepare for an interview.
Indeed, what's especially notable about Shine is the extent of the resources J&J makes available to jobseekers to help them find a job -- whether at J&J or elsewhere. Candidates who aren't hired are provided with a package of learning resources on how to accept rejection, address skills gaps, practice for interviews and connections to career coaches to help them move forward.
"Given the huge volume of candidates in our pipeline, we end up saying 'no' a lot, but we wanted to focus on finding a better way to say no," says Gehring. "We want to continue building our relationships with candidates and build it not just centered around us, which is a mistake that a lot of companies make, but build real value into it so they can help determine what they ultimately want to do with their career, whether it's with us or someplace else."
Executive candidates, in particular, can often find such resources useful, he says.
"We see this every day -- you meet a senior executive who's been super-successful who hasn't had to prepare for a job interview for a long time but they think they can wing it," says Gehring. "So they come to an interview ill-prepared and don't fully show up as a result. We want to help them navigate this so they can be better candidates -- that's a big win for us and for them."
Shine, which Gehring says is tightly integrated with J&J's applicant tracking system, provides candidates with estimates for how long the hiring process typically takes for a given position. He's also piloting a program that lets candidates reach out directly to recruiters via a dedicated handle on Twitter for quick answers to questions such as "So what's next in the process?"
"We're looking to grow this aggressively in the next few weeks," he says. "We think this could be a really nice solution to the perceived lack of transparency."
J&J, which receives more than one million applications annually from around the world, is rolling out Shine to jobseekers in the U.S. first and then globally next year. Gehring credits an "agile development process" in which job-seeker feedback was regularly sought and employees from J&J and its Shine development partner, Jibe, worked closely together in blended teams.
"We've learned that a lot of HR technology partners don't play well with others in the sandbox, so we planned early on to work as a blended team," he says. "Otherwise, we would have ended up with another disconnected platform that would not have brought nearly as much value as this one does."
J&J will be monitoring net promoter scores as one of its key metrics of success for the platform.
"We want to see a fairly substantial bump in how candidates experience our process," says Gehring.