Sometimes, when you have to make a decision you weren't expecting, it ends up charting an even greater path.
Debbie Tuel, Chief Joy Officer, Symphony Talent, talks to Kerry Noone, Director of Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing, CVS, about how CVS Health navigated major pivots amidst COVID-19; used automation to accelerate hiring; and expanded on a recruitment marketing vision that has confidently taken the business into 2021.
Debbie [00:00:00] Welcome to The JOY Podcast, where each episode will shine a light on global organizations who are getting people back to work faster and with an exceptional experience.
Debbie [00:00:10] I'm Debbie Tuel, your Chief Joy Officer at Symphony Talent, a global technology company that is leading industry wide movements in partnership with our customers and partners.
Debbie [00:00:21] And it's the project that we're calling the Joy Pipeline. And we're glad to have you guys joining us for this journey of yes. Our mission is to help recruiters bring the joy back to recruiting and empower them to create the candidate experience that both they and the candidates need. Now, I'm super excited to be debuting this JOY Podcast at HRTech today. And there's no better guest to be joining me than CVS Health Director of Recruitment Marketing and Employment Branding, Kerry Noone.
Debbie [00:00:54] Kerry, welcome.
Kerry [00:00:56] Thank you. I am so excited.
Debbie [00:01:04] And we're going to hear a little bit today about Kerry's story on how CVS' brand is creating a more dignified experience for its candidates. But before we get started, Kerry, with all that is going on in the world today, I'd love to start by asking you, how are you doing today?
Kerry [00:01:27] I am doing well, I'm hopeful, I think, with everything. It's hard to believe it's been a year, first of all, or almost a year since we really started to feel the impact. But in the last couple of months have really started to feel very hopeful that we're going to get back to normal.
Debbie [00:01:44] You know, that is very exciting to hear from my perspective, knowing that you guys are on the front lines of getting people back to work, getting people vaccinated, getting my kids back to school. If you are feeling helpful, that gives me hope. And, you know, I think it's something that we can all really get excited about. So on the flip side of it, you know, CVS is interacting with hundreds of thousands of candidates every year. It's really astronomical, especially right now with the unemployment where it is. How are they doing? Have you asked them?
Kerry [00:02:25] We actually do ask our candidates, job seekers, applicants, everyone who comes to our career site, we ask in some way how their experience was. So we don't necessarily ask them how they personally are doing, but because we care about how their experience is when they do come to our our spaces, we ask them how they're doing. We actually send an email to all of our contacts in our database. And this was something that we just sent last week. And we asked them, what do you want to hear? We care about what you want. So what do you want to hear from us about so we're not just sending them more noise, we're sending them information that they want, whether it's jobs or if they choose to to join CVS, whether they would see career growth or even if it's how we're helping people get back to work with the vaccines that we're administering.
Debbie [00:03:22] Amazing. So you're telling me that there is still some humanity out there? Is that what you're telling me?
Kerry [00:03:29] We try very hard, I think that that goes to the core of our values, but yes, we try very hard that there are people on both sides of the equation, the candidate experience.
Debbie [00:03:41] So we know that CVS and your team and talent acquisition does a good job of listening to the candidate, but it's got to be really hard to aggregate that data, the volume and what you're looking at. You know, if you could share with our listeners today, how do you ask the question of how are you doing? How is our experience? And not only how do you ask the question, but how do you distill it to the organization and to the people that are working on really improving that?
Kerry [00:04:13] That's a great question. So we have a couple of of ways that we connect. Actually, we have multiple ways that we connect. So we have surveys on our career site. So the actual experience and then we have surveys that are at different touch points of the candidate experience. So that's kind of the technical automated. Yet try and be personal. We look at all of the comments that come through our surveying tool. We also will connect with people on social media. So we try very hard to answer all of the questions that come through. We have an email, a couple of emails, but we have a email@example.com email that I'm on. I personally help monitor that that email box and we answer every single one of those questions. So we try and help the candidate find the answers that they need in advance, whether it's through our chatbot on our career site or a dynamic FAQ page where they can actually if they don't find their answers, they can fill out a form. And then each one of those questions come through that that email box. And then if they still have questions, we answer those questions. And it's interesting. We get to connect with candidates. Hopefully they appreciate the ability to connect. Certainly we try very hard.
Debbie [00:05:42] Absolutely, and it's encouraging, I think, and I hope for candidates that are listening to this to hear that the employers do care. It's not a black box. We want your feedback. We want to improve the process. If you're running into roadblocks, let us know. And I think you even shared that your head of talent acquisition all the way up cares about what the feedback that they're getting and making sure that you guys take action.
Kerry [00:06:12] Yes, absolutely. So our VP of Talent Acquisition, if he gets an email from from someone, he will make sure that that makes it back to the right person who can answer the question. So it's not just giving handing them over to an FAQ page or giving them a blank email. He tries very, very hard to connect with anyone who reaches out to him. And I think that it goes upwards all the way up to the CEO of the organization and it goes down. So everyone on his team also has that empathy and is definitely part of our day to day activity.
Debbie [00:06:48] So Kerry, working with CVS for a number of years now, I know that you guys are always on the forefront of adopting new technologies and leveraging that technology, deliver better experiences to to really get that feedback and and listen to that feedback. I'm sure that our audience that's listening today here at HRTech is wondering what technology do you leverage that you found successful in helping you in improving that experience?
Kerry [00:07:16] Yes, and if I was sharing a PowerPoint, I would share an infinity loop of our tech stack because I think that it helps to communicate the different technology that we use and the different touch points for the candidate experience where it comes in. And it's not just a one and done so. Symphony Talent, for example, our recruitment marketing career site, it doesn't just come in at the attraction, it really hits a lot of the different points of the candidate journey. So it's the attraction. It's the the awareness, it's the convincing them that CVS is a good career choice for them. It's telling that story. And then we have other technology that comes in like Survale, our survey tool, that sits on top which collaborates with Symphony Talent. And then it also integrates with our ATS. We have our chatbot, which is Paradox. We have an employee generated video tool that I love because it gives us the opportunity to do a dynamic FAQ page. So it's not just a chat or a typed out response to a question that someone might have, whether it's about our benefits or career growth, it gives us the opportunity to actually do a video that's with Altru. I'm trying to think off the top of my head some of the other tech stack. We have a lot that goes into the onboarding and the interviewing experience. And then we have smaller tech that comes into play that the candidate might not see. But we use as part of our awareness, one of them is a heat map technology. So we can see when a candidate comes to, say, our home page, for example, we completely change the design of that homepage based on that heat map. So what people were what candidates, what job seekers were doing when they got to that page? It also gave us the ability to see the clicks and the mouse track of that that job seeker and I we got a kick out of this is that might sound wrong, but we got a kick out of before we made a change to the career site, the design, the angry clicking so people just didn't know what to click on. So they were clicking on anything because they were just trying to find information. So it gave us the intelligence to be able to say, OK, our home page is not working. And that's the beauty, I think, of most of the technology that we use. It's I don't want to say it's self-service, but it is. So we can go in and change our homepage. We can change we can add an alert. We can do, you know, add a video. If there's a new video that we have available that we think will resonate with the candidates, we can do that on our own and on demand. So it helped us in the last year really build out some custom landing pages for the partnerships that we've built in order to help not only place people at CVS for new positions that we had the increase, the accelerated hiring, but then also work with partners who may have been experiencing furloughs or a change in their business hiring. So we try very hard to make sure that everything ties together and works well together. So it's not just tech for the sake of tech, it's tech that makes sense.
Debbie [00:10:40] And I'm sure we could spend an entire episode just digging deep into that tech stack and and sharing some of the things that you guys have learned, some of the things that worked really well, some of the things that have failed. So next podcast. I think that's what we need to follow up on. For today, I think it's really interesting. You know, we have in the last 12 months watched the workforce start, stop, start again. CVS has been at the heart of many of the initiatives at first in really responding to the initial onset of the pandemic. Now, with vaccines, you just mentioned that a lot of your technology is giving you flexibility to make those edits and shift. Can you share with our audience maybe one or two scenarios in the last 12 months where you've really taken that flexibility, that self-service aspect of your technology and been able to pivot really quickly?
Kerry [00:11:40] I can't think of a better example than last March when the nation went into shutdown mode and we had to we started to work with and it actually it stemmed from a career crossroads, professional networking session. And our VP was speaking with VPs at other organizations, other TA VPs. And it was a collaborative moment when collectively the VPs discovered that some of the companies were going to be going into furlough mode and then we knew that we were going into accelerated mode, so literally within that was, I think that was Wednesday night. By Friday afternoon, we had at least two landing pages that were custom to organizations that were going into furlough mode. And it wasn't just a landing page that like a normal landing page that was offering positions that might be a good fit for the people that were being furloughed. It was a co-branded, really a relationship between CVS and the other company. So it was co-branded obviously on the CVS career site. But it used the logo and it used terms that these organizations call employees. So at CVS, we're colleagues. We don't refer to people as employees, we're colleagues and some other organizations, they're team members. So we addressed that personalization as we felt like it would be. It would resonate with the...and there's my dog. I saw your dog walk by and mine did too. And so it was a really good opportunity for us to leverage the flexibility of our technology and and work with not only internal partners, but external partners in order to deliver a good candidate experience.
Debbie [00:13:46] And, you know, we work in such a small community talent acquisition. And it's really encouraging to hear that the TA leaders and the community is working together to make sure that we're delivering an excellent experience and trying to serve our communities as best we can in a challenging time like this. Way back in the day, Symphony Talent actually took this methodology and said, OK, let's create this shared database and let's let employers share their talent. And while it was really great in theory, then when you actually asked employers to throw their talent in there, they're like, I don't know about that. So when you talk about this idea of, hey, if you can't keep these people employed, let's see if we can give them great jobs and vice versa. I think that, you know, this karma is going to go around what you give, what you take. Have you seen that be successful in this partnership that you just talked about, working with other employers?
Kerry [00:14:50] So when we went into the relationship, when we went into the accelerated hiring program or that period of time, we went into it with the relationship with these other organizations, that it was a temporary situation, that the colleagues, the team members, the staff that was coming would be coming over to CVS, that there would be a time when the other business was going to get back to normal. And so that was part of the the first step is to say that not that the the colleagues would be temporary necessarily, because we knew that some people would choose to stay with us and some would want to go back home to their original organization, and it has been we have some really nice stories and really nice success stories of people who have come to CVS on a temporary basis and then have made it back to their organizations when they went back to normal. And then we also have examples of people who may have been at the peak at their organization, their current organization, and then found a career growth opportunity at CVS. So it was, I think, in every sense of the word, a true partnership with these other organizations.
Debbie [00:16:13] I mean, I will say for me, I have personally become a little bit more emotional during this pandemic, it might have to do with the fact that I see nobody but my husband and my kids 24/7 and everything that is going on around us. But those are the lighthearted stories that I'm watching come out of this pandemic that really give me hope for the future. So thank you so much for sharing. And I think it's probably a great place for us to kind of shift into our segment that we're going to do on every episode. Confessions of a Recruiter, where we want to hear from you, Kerry, the true real stories of what happens behind the scenes. Right, like what are what are the one of those funny stories that you have working on talent acquisition, working in recruiting that you just kind of giggle at and share like this really happen one time.
Kerry [00:17:08] So this is one example, you know, working like the dogs popping in and out and talk about the joy of it. I mean, that's that's kind of a lighthearted I think that, you know, my team, we've always worked remotely. But I do have some team members that have young kids and they just are part of the meetings now, you know, like if the dog barks. The other day I was on a call and Coco was barking and a colleague of mine, they don't have pets. And I could to hear him say, Do you hear the dog? So it's just really kind of neat to see that the ability to be able to bond with our co-workers, our colleagues over remote. I mean, I think that's probably a really good example also. And then, you know, when we talk about the funny little stories, I mentioned earlier, that I answer all of the emails that come through on our firstname.lastname@example.org email and the other day, because we do have an automated automated response that tries to answer some of the questions like I can't log in. It gives them the information that they need to reset their password or whatever it might be. And someone replied back in all caps that they just wanted us to speak to someone. And so I, of course, responded back. I was like, I just want to assure you that I am a real person and I can help answer your questions. And then another similar story, someone this was when we first started the the email. Someone sent an email that said, are is this a chatbot? And I replied back, I assure you that I am not, that I am a real person. And I would send you a selfie but I felt like that was maybe a little inappropriate. So I have some funny stories like that. And I think, you know, just our chat bot to when we first started the chat, but we didn't think about, and obviously the chatbot is not a real person, but we didn't think about the fact that people would be thanking the chat bot. And so we call our assistant, Olivia, and Olivia didn't know how to answer a thank you. So we had to incorporate that into the conversation. And I just, you know, those kind of examples, it just, you know, it's caring about people and it's real people on like I said earlier, it's real people on both sides of the equation.
Debbie [00:19:44] Yeah, real people in some of their. Most vulnerable times when they're looking for a job, so it's extra delicate in those moments, as I've seen. So Kerry, we always close each segment of our podcast with asking our leaders, what is your best actual takeaway for how brands can pursue their own journey of yes and bring joy back to recruiting in order to create a better candidate experience and a better recruiter experience. So what would be the one piece of advice for talent leaders globally that you would give today?
Kerry [00:20:24] I think maybe walking in others shoes, and that is one of our how we work behaviors at CVS is to put yourself in other's shoes before you just automatically respond, take into consideration other's feelings and what they might be going through. I think that would be my number one. Make sure you remember that there are people on both sides and it's easy to forget that an automated email might not be the best way of communicating with candidates who are going through a job search that is uncertain.
Debbie [00:21:07] Great advice, always have empathy for your candidate, put yourself in their shoes, make sure that you're responding, thinking of those things, I think we can all attest to that. That is is great advice. And you can see here for those that are watching, those that are listening, thank you so much for joining us. Both Kerry and I are dating ourselves with our side parts, but we are going to try to be a little bit more modern and we are going to jump on Clubhouse. Yeah, we've got our ear buds. Yeah, we're just a dogs and it's, yes, all of it. But we are going to jump on Clubhouse for a candid 15-minute follow up and we are going to share that date and time with everyone. We would love for you to join us for a off the cuff chat. You can ask questions, we'll be there to answer. And thank you all for joining us. And we'll chat soon. Thanks, Kerry. Thank you.