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Hearthside Food Solutions

Gaining a competitive advantage by using SkillSurvey Reference® to fully vet candidates quickly and efficiently

Hearthside Food Solutions is one of the largest food companies you’ve probably never heard of. A contract manufacturer, they make high quality food products for many premier food companies. The nutrition bars, cookies, crackers, and other products they make are enjoyed by millions every day, yet you will never find their name on a supermarket shelf.

“References are much more open and honest with their feedback with SkillSurvey Reference because it is confidential. They actually do give us critical feedback where warranted. On the phone, you rarely get a person that will tell you any weaknesses about the candidate.”

Shannon Olson

Recruiting Manager, Hearthside Foods

Keeping Fully Staffed When the Unemployment Rate is Low

Like every other employer in America, Hearthside is facing the challenges of a full-employment economy. Their strategy is to be efficient, fast, and flexible in all hiring practices. “Once we identify a candidate, we must act quickly. We cannot afford to leave them in limbo while we’re making a decision. It’s a good way to lose the best candidates,” says Shannon Olson, Recruiting Manager for Hearthside Foods. “At the same time, we can’t afford to skip steps, such as reference checks and other best practices that help ensure good hires.”

Formed in 2009, the company has matured rapidly, and now has 25 production facilities, including four in Europe. The current job market puts added pressure on Hearthside’s need to meet burgeoning staffing requirements. The company also has a strong performance-based culture and seeks individuals who can hit the ground running. Making good hiring decisions quickly is critical.

In 2017, Hearthside turned to SkillSurvey Reference with the hope of making sound decisions more quickly while not cutting corners on reference check nor increasing hiring errors. The initial results have been positive. As Olson said, “SkillSurvey Reference is a cost effective solution. It provides good value, delivering all the promised benefits and feedback.”

Reference Checks with Data Analysis to Boot!

Prior to adopting SkillSurvey Reference, each HR manager was responsible for conducting their own reference checks. Full adherence to this practice was difficult to achieve based on time constraints as well as differences in HR manager skill levels. The result was increased risk, elevated hiring costs, and greater turnover rates.

“Our senior vice president of HR tasked me with finding a tool to help us ensure consistent reference checks were being completed on each candidate in a timely and consistent manner, including documenting the outcome and providing an audit trail,” Olson said. “My research revealed other products and offerings that only provided basic, traditional background checks or simple feedback, usually limited to, ‘Yes, this person has worked here.’ Everything I looked at was inadequate to the mission we needed to accomplish. I contacted many vendors and was not impressed.”

“Along the way, I found SkillSurvey,” Olson continued. “I was shocked because I thought ‘Wow, this is a really neat product.’ It made me excited.”

With SkillSurvey Reference, rather than calling references on the telephone, the process is automated, which means the company can track and ensure that reference checks occur.

References also provide better feedback with SkillSurvey. Olson explains, “References are much more open and honest with their feedback because they don’t have to provide self-disclosure. They actually give us critical feedback where warranted. On the phone, you rarely get a person that will tell you any weaknesses about the candidate.”

SkillSurvey Reference produces a comprehensive report based on that feedback. Predictive analytics round out the picture and help the team identify possible red flags. The reports provide additional questions that help recruiters follow up on issues that may pose risks. If two or more candidates are in the running, the predictive analytics helps Hearthside Foods identify which is the better fit.

“In one instance,” Olsen says, “We had an issue where we were considering two individuals for one position. The management team was split on which candidate to hire, so we used the comparison report. The predictive analytics helped us identify some inconsistencies for the manager we thought we wanted to hire and the feedback contradicted what we had seen during the interview process. We ended up going with the other candidate.”

80 hours

of time saved in the first quarter of 2018

133 candidates and 566 references

have been through the SkillSurvey Reference process since 2017

38 job-specific surveys

have been used for Hearthside Food candidates

87% response rate

from all references

“In today’s difficult hiring environment, finding, attracting, and qualifying the best candidate requires every edge we can find. Technology plays a huge role in this. It is impossible to be a large and competitive employer without tools such as SkillSurvey. For us, it is a game changer.”

Shannon Olson

Recruiting Manager, Hearthside Foods

Cutting Time Spent and Improving Recruiter Experience

Not only does Hearthside Foods now identify the best candidates, it also expedites the reference checking process. Candidates simply enter their references into the system, and the system contacts references via email and follows up automatically. Turnaround time for references has improved because recruiters no longer wait for references to call back.

The automated process cuts the time it takes to check each reference by 25 percent. In the first quarter of 2018, this automated process saved the HR department a total of 80 hours or 10 workdays.

Overall, says Olson, “In today’s difficult hiring environment, finding, attracting, and qualifying the best candidate requires every edge we can find. Technology plays a huge role. It’s impossible to be a large and competitive employer without tools such as SkillSurvey. For us, it is a game changer.”

About Hearthside Food Solutions

Founded in 2009 in Downers Grove IL, Hearthside Food Solutions is the industry’s largest bar producer and the leading full-service contract manufacturer of high quality, grain-based food, snack products and packaging for some of the world’s leading premier brands. Hearthside operates 25 full-service production facilities in the US and Europe, as well as internal R&D centers and product innovation labs. For more information, visit www.hearthsidefoods.com.

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