Experience evaluation, uplift and optimisation of a recruitment process

Table of Contents

Objective: Evaluate the experience as a candidate, and see where we can uplift it

Case Study

SDSN Youth is a network of young professionals and students, who work together to empower youth globally to create sustainable solutions.

The network is also ever growing, and also being predominately volunteers, we have a considerable turnover as well. On top of that, most of our programs are 12 month programs, meaning recruitment is an essential part of our operations, and the first interaction most people have with us.

The challenge for this case study was focusing on volunteer recruitment, and to see what the experience is as a candidate and recruiter, and identify any potential for any uplift.

The outcome was a more professional structure and process - both in terms of the recruiter knowing how to approach the tasks, and for the candidate going through the experience.

  • Time reduction in the recruitment processm, going from 3-4 minutes/step to <30 seconds [98%+ reduction in time needed/step]
  • Time candidate spent in questionnaire stage timeframe dropped from 47.4 days to 6.9 days
  • Time candidate spent in Feedback stage dropped from 17 days to 2 days
  • Increased hire rate from 2.5% to 27%

Target audience:

I had a brief understanding of the recruitment process from my own experiences joining the organisation (listed here) - but of course having not been through the process as a recruiter, I cannot assume too much.

  • Candidates
    • Mostly students or young professionals
    • From around the world
    • Mostly online, with the exception of internships being done in person
  • Recruiter
    • Often people who have never played an HR role before, nor formed teams before
    • Lack of international context


  • We were limited to the platforms we have currently
  • And had to keep in mind that the process needs to be relearned many times (possibly by someone without an HR background) multiple times in the future
  • There were many competing projects at the time, so I was time constrained to about 3 weeks


I took a classic Design Thinking, Double Diamond approach to the project - focusing on the problem space first before diving into solutions.


First I explored the different platforms and material in order to map the current state - a spreadsheet was used for speed and flexibility in editing.

Mapping the pipeline stages

Mapping the existing email templates

Mapping the job descriptions to advertisements

I also mapped out the skills and roles in each team to get a better idea of how talent was being used in different teams.

The jobs/volunteering portal currently looks like this

Generally you could see that the volunteering portal was relatively uninspiring, there was a lot of duplication, and manual processes.


A survey was also sent out to existing volunteers/staff to understand their experiences joining the organisation.

Here are some of the topics I asked about:

  • Experience overall
  • Experience with the recruiter
  • Duration of the recruitment process
  • When they joined (so that I could figure out which iteration of the recruitment process they went through)


Looking at all the inputs that I discovered, I was able to distill the challenges in more detail.


Two key pain points for candidates were a) the duration the process took, and b) understanding the skills required for the role.

The duration for recruitment could take up to 2-3 months, with little visibility around what the process looks like.

From 13 days to 140 days

Recruiter On the flip side, pain points for recruiters were a) not finding enough candidates as b) candidates often did not have the relevant experience. Additionally the process for recruiting candidates was quite manual and repetitive, creating a feeling of tediousness.

The challenge statement I decided on addressing was something along the lines of:

  • How might we make it easier for teams to find suitable candidates?*

Something we had to acknowledge was that the content in job descriptions never seemed to be accurate to the actual role, so a secondary challenge was:

  • How might we help candidates understand how they would contribute to SDSN Youth?

Immediately, I could see opportunity for an experience uplift in a number of areas.

Stream 1 Marketing: Content uplift


  • Looking at the application, there was often a lot of jargon.
  • Descriptions of activities, but not necessarily the responsibilities of the role - nor a description of the type of skills being sought out
  • Job descriptions often were advertised for teams, rather than roles - leading to candidates catering their message to the team, but not the skills that the interviewer would look for.
  • 88% of volunteers/staff said their role was at least a little different to the job description they applied for
  • Average time spent in key early stages was 47 days in Video Interview/Questionnaire, 17 days in Feedback 1

Stream 2 Recruiter: Process definition

Some challenges I discovered after mapping out the recruitment processes were that:

  • Many candidates would ask for paid internships, when paid internships only made 1% of the avalible roles.
  • These people tended to never satisfy the visa requirements
  • Sometimes the recruitment team would select a group of candidates and place them into teams without identifying the skills needed.
  • The pipeline of talent was small - and many channels were untilised
  • The recruitment platform database was unorganised and without a clear process.

Key numbers:

  • The average recruitment process was 97 days
  • With 61% taking over a month
  • 23% taking over two months
  • There were 13 number of steps in the recruitment process, all done manually.

Stream 3 Automation: Templates & Pipeline

In order to supplement my own findings, I did some research into Recruitment best practices from other companies.

  • Comparing the current state with best practices from the market showed gaps in processes and templates
  • There was inconsistency in vetting process, recruiters often using personal judgement alone to pick candidates (rather than agreeing on a scorecard), leaving no standardisation of assessments, and no documenting of lessons learned after the candidate had started their role.


Time to figure out what we can do!

  1. First I looked at how we could better utilise breezy. The platform seemed to have a lot of automation capabilities, why were they not being used? Whilst I would have liked to focus on the first 2 streams first, realistically the biggest barrier was knowing that we were not going to be able to use a different recruitment platform - so understanding breezy was an imperative to understanding how I could tackle stream 1 & 2. And it wasn’t a bad thing, as Breezy provided many solutions, from automated emails to templates, etc.

  2. Next, I explored potential spaces to automate the pipeline

  3. Then, I mapped duplicated job descriptions that could be removed so that we had a clean slate to work on

  4. And then I could explore what platforms we could use to automate in step 2, and mapped that into the pipeline spreadsheet


Now it was time to implement the changes.

I did find challenges in finding some platforms were not actually free, or support was limited, and could not be used for the automation we wanted to do.

The end process has now been split into two: Preparation & Recruitment. Together the total of stages only being 8, down from the previous number of 13.

Job Descriptions have been uplifted Outlining desired skills, and responsibilities by outcome. With a clear process of how Team Leads should work with the Recruitment team to create a clear and standardised job description.

Marketing portal uplifted, from plain text to:

  • Giving a peek into the culture: including a video and a shortened version of the benefits

  • Testimonials, to show a real life experience

  • A stronger call to action regardless of available positions was created

  • The recruitment process is now outlined on the portal as well

  • Roles x Teams were outlined to give potential candidates an idea of where they could actually contribute to


Time reduction in the recruitment process

  • ✓ Cut time required for our onboarding and recruitment processes through process automation, from going from 3-4 minutes/step to <30 seconds [98%+ reduction in time needed/step]

Pipeline stage timeframe

  • ✓ Questionnaire stage timeframe dropped from 47.4 days to 6.9 days
  • ✓ Feedback stage dropped from 17 days to 2 days

Clarity in role marketing

Hire rate

  • ✓ From 2.5% to 27% - we were getting more candidates that had relevant experience, and therefore a larger percentage of candidates were being moved forward

View rate

  • ✓ Through the creation of a new careers/volunteering portal, increased traffic in our Recruitment website pages alone by 320%, in one month. And was able to drive more traffic in the refreshed portal in one week, than the old page had in 5 months.
  • ✓ The Join the team page currently has a 35.8k views, which is more than the Homepage at 35k.