Client name . Cancer Research UK London Research Institute
Sector . Education
Summary comment . Dr. Ava Yeo, Director of Operations, LRI
"Our recruitment-specific software failed us at the eleventh hour. There is little doubt that our graduate recruitment programme for that year would have been very delayed without the flexibility of FileMaker Pro."
Cancer Research UK LRI
FileMaker Drives Graduate Recruitment for Cancer Research UK London Research Institute
Cancer Research UK London Research Institute (LRI) is internationally renowned for its work in studying the biology of cancer. The LRI has 46 senior scientists, including two Nobel prize winners, and 550 research staff. Given the high profile of the Institute it has become something of a 'destination company' for hundreds of graduates looking to win one of only 25 studentships each year.
The London Research Institute (LRI), a division of Cancer Research UK, faced a complete failure of its recruitment software less than three weeks before its annual graduate recruitment drive. Over 600 online applications were inaccessible and the software vendor needed over a month to provide an answer. A solution had to found…quickly.
Using FileMaker Pro, the staff within LRI built a highly functional database in less than three days, allowing scientists and HR professionals to access and manage the details of every single applicant to ensure the successful completion of this vital recruitment process.
- FileMaker's development environment allowed the LRI to build a fully functional database within 3 days to solve a considerable recruitment challenge
- FileMaker's flexibility enables a host of business critical applications to be developed in-house to significantly streamline the LRI's recruitment process
- Eliminated the 'paper-chain' and administrative burden on the LRI's HR department and recruiting scientists
- Created 'knock on effect' with directorates and departments approaching the team to utilise its FileMaker expertise to improve business processes right across the organisation
Already a heavy user of FileMaker across its organisation for administration, invoicing and expenses tasks, in 2006 the flexibility and rapid application delivery capabilities of the database proved invaluable when the LRI introduced a new recruitment programme.
"Each year we receive around 600 applications, and in 2006 implemented a new process to invite 60-70 short listed candidates to a three day intensive recruitment programme," said Dr. Ava Yeo, LRI Director of Operations. "This had the potential to be an incredibly time intensive process, and the mountain of paper both my team, and our recruiting group leaders, would have to wade through and record would be incredible."
In an effort to streamline the programme, the LRI took advantage of a commercially available recruitment software package…with disastrous results.
According to Dr. Yeo: "The software failed us at the eleventh hour. Over 600 applications were submitted through our online recruitment site, and were simply inaccessible. They could neither be viewed or sorted, and the software provider could not allow us access to its database."
The vendor suggested developing a new system that would give the LRI direct access to their candidate information, but this would take at least one month to build and test, and of course, the cost would be high. Unfortunately, time was at a premium as each of the 600 applications needed to be reviewed by LRI group leaders to give them sufficient time to draw up a shortlist before invitations could be sent out. The other option, which quickly proved unworkable, was to generate hard copies of every single web application.
So, the LRI turned to FileMaker. A program was quickly developed by the LRI's in-house IT team to download the data from the web-based forms into an Excel spreadsheet. Kim R, the LRI Database Developer, then used her extensive knowledge of FileMaker Pro to integrate this information into FileMaker and create a new and highly functional database within three days.
"While it was a little rough around the edges due to our need for speed, the FileMaker database had all the functionality we needed to allow the recruitment drive to proceed. We rolled it out to the desktops of our 26 group leaders and after some minimal training even those colleagues who had never used a database before were able to pick it up very quickly and get working."
Within a few weeks, 600 applications were short listed to 64, and invited to attend the three-day interview programme. 25 successful candidates were then selected and offered studentships at the LRI.
"There is little doubt that our graduate recruitment programme in 2006 would have been a complete failure without the flexibility of FileMaker Pro," Dr. Yeo confirms.
Work has continued on the database and the LRI's FileMaker-based recruitment system now far exceeds the capabilities of even the market's leading recruitment-specific software packages.
The LRI now has a system with a user-friendly interface to enable staff with no database experience to use it with ease and minimal training. Advanced functionality now allows group leaders to view, sort and create PDFs of candidate applications, a forum has been created on the Candidate Page for them to enter and read each other's comments to aid the short listing process, and they now have their own dedicated page on which to create their draft and final shortlists.
Significantly, the database administrator can use the new system for every aspect of the recruitment process, from selecting candidates for interview, recording responses and generating automatic emails, to scheduling each interview day and reporting back on candidate progress.
The LRI is now building many business critical databases in FileMaker, streamlining a host of internal processes and helping to make the LRI a more efficient organisation.