Balancing Human and Machine in an Automated Hiring Program



Our client, a leading snack brand, sought an RXO solution that that was high tech and low touch to match their relentless automation goals and support their high volume hiring needs. Pontoon presented an impressive technology stack that included several hiring automation tools and allowed us to build five integrations between our ATS and the client’s proprietary HR systems.

Per the original strategy, this workflow minimised human touch points. The first conversation between Pontoon team members and candidates occurred at offer. Hiring managers used the hiring portal to self-service their needs and the automation tools guided candidates through the full hiring process. If either needed assistance, our CSR team was available through phone, email and chat options.

This model worked well in theory, but in practice it had several weaknesses. Low candidate engagement resulted in high candidate drop-off through the recruiting process. Minimal engagement and consultation with hiring managers resulted in very low ratings in hiring manager satisfaction surveys, as well as a general misunderstanding of or adhering to the optimal recruiting process.

We needed to redesign quickly to provide a solution that still focused on automation but also increased human touch points and elevated our roles as hiring advisers.

Our Approach


While automation and our tech stack remain key in this RXO program, we have redesigned so our Pontoon team members can provide more value and impact to the client.

To address engagement shortcomings on the candidate side, we built the following touch points into our process:

  • Direct sourcing phone calls to high quality candidates on hard to fill requisitions
  • SMS reminders to candidates throughout the process with a phone number and contact in case they have questions
  • Selective use of CallFire and SlyBroadcast to call candidates at critical stages of the recruiting process. Pressing a number connects candidates with a member of our CSR team
  • Phone calls with scarce skill set candidates to schedule on-site interviews
  • Direct interaction with candidates to organise hiring events across the country

To address engagement shortcomings with hiring managers, we realigned our support team and created a new Recruiter SPOC (Single Point of Contact) role. This involved a major change management initiative to train the Recruiter SPOC team and hiring managers in the field. With this new organisation, we made several enhancements including:

  • Dedicated Recruiter SPOC for hiring managers to immediately address portal questions
  • Created a “Skype Federation” communication system so employees from each company can use Skype to connect with SPOC team
  • Developed Trusted Advisor training for the SPOC team to better identify challenges before the hiring manager brings them to our attention and pinpoint various ways SPOC can partner with managers to solve those challenges

Client Results


The impact from these changes were felt immediately and continue to improve with time.

Overall Hiring Manager Satisfaction has improved from 37% to 70%.  The rating for Pontoon’s support increased from 33% to 85%, and resolution of challenges increased from 30% to 75%.

“The recent change to a single point of contact was a game changer. Great results, swift issue resolution now.”
Client Hiring Manager

Time to Start dropped 7% within 1 month, 13% within 2 months and 17% within 6 months.  The number of open positions aged over 45 days reduced 16% after 1 month and 40% after 6 months. 

Pontoon constantly evaluates new tech in the marketplace as well as effectiveness of the program’s tech stack.  In 2018, Pontoon recommended the removal of technology that was not providing optimal results and suggested a replacement tool.  Based on data analysis and our partnership, the client agreed to off-board the tech and redesign their internal process.

The results have been game-changing for Pontoon as well.  In 2018, this program hired 15,000 workers with considerably less Pontoon team members than industry average.  The RXO program is recognised within Pontoon for its innovation and high metrics results and the successes of the program have been worked in to our RXO product Target Operating Model and shared across the portfolio.

Through lower costs and fewer people working the process, Pontoon has been able to reinvest the savings in to other areas of hiring.  For instance, the we are using process improvement savings from 2018 for a 2019 sourcing campaign that includes on-product job ads.  Hiring advertisements for key roles will be listed on the back of the company’s snack products to leverage their best-in-market brand reach.

The thoughtful use of technology in a high volume hiring environment has created an advanced program with improved processes, a smooth candidate experience, and impressive cost savings – all while elevating Pontoon’s team to valuable hiring advisors.