Footasylum's rise to becoming a magnet for top talent

Head of Talent Attraction & Acquisition at Footasylum, David Nottage caught up with us about how the company has become a major pull for top talent, receiving hundreds of applications for any of its jobs. We also discuss their reduction in agency costs, time to hire and use of the analytics dashboard.

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Seb Waterfield

UK Marketing Manager at Teamtailor

Founded in 2005, and trading with over 65 high-street stores today, Footasylum is one of the UK’s leading retailers. The Footasylum team has a passion for streetwear and footwear, whether it’s big-name brands or emerging bedroom labels, and a shared ethos that the products they sell are a lifestyle choice and not just functionality.

The company aims to move beyond the traditional experience of the high street to offer a more quirky and unique retail experience. Fun, creativity, and innovation are part of Footasylum’s DNA and this is something the company’s 2,500 employees appreciate whether they work in-store, the company’s head office, the studio or the warehouse.

Savings on agency costs - £130k across the year
Time to hire - 14 days
% of unsuccessful candidates who reapply via Connect - 30%

Read the full story or watch the full interview below!

I wanted something where I could go into the career site and really make an impact with time and trends but then also make it feel like a Footasylum website. We wanted something that represents us.

David Nottage, Head of Talent Attraction & Acquisition at Footasylum

Recruitment challenges

Employer branding isn't an overnight win. It takes a long time. I've been at Footasylum for over five years and we're now at the point where I would say we're organically attracting candidates without much work. But why would we stop? We're doing something consistently and it's worked. We've built a range of social strategies to drive people away from job boards to our career site.

When I first came to Footasylum, we had 40 applications across 70 jobs in the first week. Candidates were coming through an ATS that was more like a portal. The format for the system itself didn't allow candidates to engage in any way, they also couldn't receive feedback and would just get a rejection note from a click of a button, which was quite cold. If you compare that to last week, we have 16,500 applications across about 135 jobs. Fundamentally, an ATS that's solid, which is what Teamtailor is, is the central spine to everything that we do in our business.

We're working in a way that allows candidates to feel that they're valued and processed in an effective way. Hiring managers aren't getting daunted by the sheer number of candidates and applications that they have to review. Our backend systems are working effectively, from our requisition process, all the way through to our off boarding, offer letters and so on.

Agency use

As you would imagine, we're a super engaged brand, so agency use was never huge, but we may have had growth periods in tech for example, like most people did post-Covid. The challenge was really bringing people through that journey and we did utilise agencies in there.

However, by utilising the candidate experience and journey a lot more, the reduction comparatively from the old ATS to ours now is roughly £130k across the year. We just have no need now - we haven't given a rollout to an agency this year.

Candidate transparency and reporting

We have found the system so ergonomic and simple to use. We felt it was very 'Footasylum-y' - I'll use that word, 'Footasylum-y!' What I mean by this is that it felt correlated with who we were as a business and that people could implement it as part of their daily routine. As soon as that happened, we were then able to delegate the responsibilities for who's managing the volume and velocity of our applications. We would never have been able to do that with our old ATS.

We would like to get to the point where people apply for our roles and they're already engaged and bought into the application process. From that point, what they're really doing when they speak to one of my team is having a genuine conversation about whether we're the right place for them and they're the right person for us. We don't want to waste our time selling - we don't need to do that.

What's important for us is to make sure that people come into it and have the most genuine candidate experience that they can, so that's all built on the strategy from the analytics reporting suite. My HR director gives me a lot of free flow in the business and she knows that analytics and reporting is really important to me and I think everything we do at the base level is built around the reporting suite. A lot of this is about effective planning for the future and reflecting on what we've done and could do better. We can see that if we run a lot of campaigns in a social perspective, then we start to see a lot more applications.

If you look at the data, the number of people that reapply from a role they've been unsuccessful in, that then go through Connect (Connect is a portal that allows people to subscribe to your job openings, posts and news) is about 30%, which is a pretty significant number.

Key learnings

Our time to hire at the moment is around 14 days, and that's from the point of advertising, all the way through to filling a job. Compare us to other businesses that are in our space and we're well ahead of them. I'm one of the few talent people that is really keen to speak to other Heads of Talents. I'm keen to understand how other people are doing it and keen to share how we do it too in case other people can learn from that. I know ours is way higher in that space, not because we're doing things better than anyone else, but because we really listen to what our hiring managers want and what our candidates want.

Ultimately we're able to combine all of that through the system of Teamtailor. So if you're saying to me have we improved comparatively to our old ATS? Yes, exponentially. But most importantly, the things that really matter are the strategic goals that we set. These were able to be reached because of the system we put in.

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