Having 20,000 team members across more than 130 locations (and everywhere in between in the field), you might think that hiring – in particular, providing a great candidate experience – would be tough. And it is. But it’s the piece of the puzzle that Snagajob customer, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, takes utmost pride in. In fact, those who know the company’s Corporate Recruiting Manager, Wes Sutkin, refer to him as the Candidate Evangelist.

So, what does it take to be a Candidate Evangelist? And how can your company become one, too? We took a timeout with Wes to find out.

Place value in work-life integration over work-life balance

We know from Snagajob and LinkedIn’s research that 71 percent of hourly workers are under 30 years old. But the key thing to remember here is that it’s less about age and more about the way Millennials think about work. What they want out of work, such as flexibility, is quite different from what an hourly worker in the 90s might have wanted or even had available.

While you could argue that job security and stability were priorities for those coming into the working world in the 80s and 90s, the narrative today is less about work-life balance, and more about work-life integration.

Back then, employees wanted to show up for the job and get the work done, but when the day was over, they were done. Today, Millennials want to integrate their work environment in whatever way possible throughout the day. It’s the idea that their body doesn’t have to be in any particular place to get the job done.

Of course, that’s not a reality for every type of job. Some jobs are transactional and require workers to be in a particular place to perform a particular service, but finding ways to meet this need/desire for flexibility for the rest of them is critical. Your workers don’t necessarily mind the extra hours of work after they go home for the day, as long as it’s in lieu of having to put in time during the other hours of the day that are less convenient for them.

Go mobile or go home

Upon joining Dr Pepper Snapple nearly three years ago, Wes realized that most of his hourly, frontline employees don’t have access to a desktop computer in their home. Their cellphone is their computer. Expecting them to go to a library to apply for jobs just wasn’t realistic. He knew that if these applicants couldn’t complete the application from their phones, they weren’t going to apply at all.

He also thought about the application he inherited – 34 screens and 78 data fields. It took, on average, 31 minutes to complete. You can imagine it would take a lot longer on a phone.

That’s why Wes took a step back to find out why the application was built that way. What he found was that every team involved in the hiring process was collecting every bit of information they could possibly need to try and close the deal. His teams also realized that a lot of that information could be collected later in the hiring process. So, they did what any great recruiting team would do and blew up the application, whittling it down to one a candidate could complete in less than five minutes.

Just that one change cut Dr Pepper Snapple’s application drop-off rate by roughly half. When you multiply that out over the year, Dr Pepper Snapple is no longer missing out on more than 100,000 applicants.

Factor in that more than 60 percent of the company’s applications are now coming from mobile (and growing by five to 10 percent each year), the shorter application process is not only creating a better experience for the candidates, but also giving hiring managers the increase in applicants they’d been looking for.

Deliver the long-term value

Today’s hourly workers want to know that even though their current job may not be their forever job, it will set them up for long-term success. Giving them a tool belt of skills they can take anywhere makes for a great value proposition.

When you’re interviewing candidates, call out the skills that will help them grow – operations management, customer service, employee relations, etc. – and share a vision of what life will look like with your company if they do decide to stay and grow with your team. If you can’t deliver the long-term value, you can’t expect long term tenure with your team.

Your employees want to be a player on a winning team with a well-defined mission, doing something that matters and makes a difference. Ensuring they understand those elements will pay off for you – and them – over the long haul.

Hire for fit

As Wes notes, we tend to hire people for their skills and experience and fire them for their lack of fit. Fit for the job is rarely a skills issue. It’s usually not because they can’t do the job; it’s because they won’t.

That’s why Wes spent two years on the road training his frontline managers and supervisors how to find and hire for fit.

How? Wes gave us a great example:

There’s a role at Dr Pepper Snapple called a Merchandiser. This person starts his or her day at 5:30 a.m. and may load tens of thousands of pounds of products a day on the shelves over the course of a day. This person works by himself/herself, doesn’t have peers to talk to throughout the day and has to drive from location to location.

That may sound like a tough job, but for the right candidate, it’s not. Hiring managers in the past would take a job like this and almost try to talk the candidate out of taking it. And, if the candidate was still standing and interested at the end of the process, he or she was hired! But that kind of hiring doesn’t set the candidate or the employer up for success.

So, Wes got out in the field and found a shining example of a man who loved his job as a Merchandiser:

The early-morning start time means he gets to pick up his kids from school. Not having a boss or peers hovering over his shoulder matches his personality. And the thousands of pounds he has to lift daily? Well, he has large muscles and hasn’t been to a gym in nearly five years.

You have to search through the crowd for people who are wired for your jobs. Train your managers how to position the job in order to find the right fit. If the jobs you’re offering aren’t sexy, get in the trenches with your employees. Understand what their day-to-day looks like. You may think you know, but chances are, you really don’t. Take time to spend a day with them, learning what they enjoy about the job or what is a challenge for them, and frame that up for your candidates.

Get creative with employee engagement

Just giving your employees the proper pay and benefits isn’t enough to keep them around. You have to have the grassroots swell going on in your organization.

The locations at Dr Pepper Snapple Group with the highest employee engagement level aren’t getting that from a top-down approach. They’re implementing ideas that resonate with teams specific to each location, such as planning “Bring Your Family to Work” days, organizing shout-out boards where people can write and share notes for each other, and calling impromptu “Thank You” meetings, where employees just gather to give thanks in person. And it’s working. Those locations that are making a direct effort to engage on their own terms are reducing turnover significantly, and they’re sharing those lessons learned with other worksites.

While empowering your teams from the ground-up is great, don’t forget about the big picture. What is important to your company as a whole? At Dr Pepper Snapple, it’s about the “calories in, calories out” approach – helping its customers make informed choices to lead a healthy life.

That’s why the company’s Let’s Play initiative helps get kids and families active nationwide. Employees from all over the country come together throughout the year to build playgrounds and pack sports equipment for communities that lack resources for active play. When employees feel connected to the greater good you’re doing as a company, they’re more likely to stay with you.

Learn more

To hear more about what your hourly workers really want and Wes’ role as Candidate Evangelist within Dr Pepper Snapple, check out our on-demand webinar with LinkedIn, “Your Ultimate Hourly Insights Guide.”

Want to find out how Snagajob can help you find and hire great candidates in minutes, just like Dr Pepper Snapple? Click here to learn more.