A journey towards excellence in Global Candidate Experience

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By Rachelle Peard. Published on 2 July 2014


Our client is one of the world’s leading international oil and gas companies, providing its customers with fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, retail services and petrochemicals products for everyday items. It employs around 84,000 people worldwide and is active in some 30 countries.

In 2011 BP embarked on a quest to look at driving global consistency in its recruitment process from a candidate experience perspective.

Most businesses do not have an individual looking after global candidate experience, however BP recognised that candidates go through a high number of touch points along the way when they join an organisation, which can have a huge bearing on their decision to engage.

With some 84,000 employees, BP wanted to assess its recruitment procedures around the world. They recognised it couldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, but they needed to drive consistency and to put in place the right behaviours and values to engage the right talent and promote the company’s external reputation.

The Appointment

Reporting to the Head of Group Resourcing, this new role looked at the end-to-end candidate experience from sourcing to offer and onboarding.

The role would include working with key HR and business stakeholders to define BP’s aspirational candidate experience and then work towards delivering it through the team at BP, their processes and also by leveraging the use of technology and social media to create a more engaging approach.

The Candidate

For Vicky Bourne, who was previously Head of HR Centre of Excellence at Sanofi-Aventis, the role appealed on several different levels. Not only did it play to her HR strengths, but she was also keen on the opportunity to influence change at a global level.

“I had been talking to Toby Burton at Eton Bridge Partners and when he contacted me about this role, it was what I was looking for, because it was the opportunity to really make a difference to a large organisation through recruitment.

“The size of BP, the chance to be part of a global operation and to work alongside other senior HR professionals made it very interesting,” said Bourne. “This was very much a change management role, looking at how we can influence recruitment globally, which was exciting.

“I liked the idea of meeting and engaging with key stakeholders from across the different business areas and different countries, understanding their views and their perspective on the recruitment process.”

The Role

Whilst Vicky’s own recruitment and onboarding experience was a good one, she says BP’s recognition that the process wasn’t always as smooth throughout the organisation, received widespread support.

A robust programme of both qualitative and quantitative research and survey work was undertaken, with results benchmarked against other external organisations in order to identify areas of best practice.

Vicky concentrated initially on areas of the business with high volume recruitment needs, helping recruitment teams to understand the current candidate experience we were delivering and that the recruitment process was an opportunity to showcase BP’s reputation externally and make sure they could engage the best talent.

Local action plans were developed by local recruitment teams and the candidate experience we were delivering started to improve almost straight away.

“We had to find out ‘what good looks like’, we spent time building relationships and talking to people about their experiences. Once people started thinking about what is right for their candidates, it changed their own behaviour, which is really important,” she continued.

“There are very different ways of working worldwide, different laws and cultures but with regard to the candidate experience it is often all down to meeting personal human needs. No matter where they are, candidates want to know what the process is, where they are in it and when they will have feedback. What we needed was a fairly simple, consistent approach.”

The Result

Vicky was able to develop a BP Candidate Charter, clearly setting out what a good candidate experience should be, with guidance and measuring points at every stage to ensure everyone understood how the process should be delivered.

BP is still very much on the journey and key activities underway include

  • developing training for managers to help them understand how to deliver the right candidate experience
  • copywriting training for recruiters to help them present new job opportunities in an engaging way
  • workshops for recruitment teams to share survey results and candidate feedback
  • improvements to the way technology is used to improve the candidate experience: one example is the launch of a personalised Candidate Zone for applicants to keep track of their status and recruitment activity whilst also learning more about BP and its culture.
  • reviewing the way the company engages with candidates through social media and networking, and how it continues to adapt to ongoing changes

“We’re just over 12 months in, so we’re still on the journey, we track data on an ongoing basis in order to measure progress and gain feedback and we use that data to see what we have achieved so far. We know there’s still a lot to do to ensure the charter is embedded into our core processes in a sustainable way, but we have made good progress and we can identify where change is happening.”

With the initial work completed, Vicky Bourne extended her role to include a focus on global talent attraction as well as candidate experience. As of Spring 2014 Vicky has been promoted into the Head of Resourcing for Refining & Marketing.