Jeanne-Blair

Jeanne Blair shares how her team is developing Expedia Group’s candidate experience across their global brands

Coming from the tech industry into her role as Expedia Group's Senior Director for Global Recruiting Programs, Jeanne Blair had her work cut out for her as she and her team started working to define a candidate experience across the global footprint.

“When I joined the team this past spring, a consistent experience didn't really exist across our many brands,” Jeanne explained. “Each of our brands are active in many different markets and each team expressed the EVP in a nuanced way.”

To kick things off, she and her team are working with their brand team and using candidate research to guide the direction of their efforts.

My team is small, so we're building advocates in each of our global distributed teams. Jeanne Blair
According to Jeanne, the program got a kick start in 2018 when corporate strategy changed to become more aligned around Expedia Group — rather than by each of the unique brands. So far, they have collected data from their candidates and employees to drive an experience that all the brands across the globe can leverage.

“We're using candidate feedback to understand why candidates are interested in coming to Expedia Group, and then figuring out how to nurture that information and build out our future EVP,” said Jeanne.

One of the first sources of data they ran with was from candidate surveys.

“We started sending out candidate surveys about a year ago,” said Jeanne. “We were getting satisfaction data and verbatim feedback from these surveys, so we were able to use that as a starting point to understand where we had major gaps in our process, what the candidate pain points were, and where we could see an emotional response that we could positively influence.”

They've recently updated the survey to hone in on different steps in their interview process and aspects of their candidate experience.

“The surveys help influence how we're marketing and communicating at the top of the funnel in a way that will actually resonate with our candidates at those different stages,” explained Jeanne. “We're interested to see that data set grow through this update.”

Jeanne said that another early focus of her team was on candidate and employee interviews.

“We're not only looking at external candidates, but internal employees as well who are applying to different positions,” said Jeanne. “We're pulling from both sides and asking them questions to help us get more data and engage them in these conversations as well.”

The surveys help influence how we're marketing and communicating at the top of the funnel in a way that will actually resonate with our candidates at those different stages. Jeanne Blair
One way Jeanne and her team are attempting to amplify their data has been through on-going workgroups with the global recruiter network.

“My team is small, so we're building advocates in each of our global distributed teams,” said Jeanne. “In 2019, we'll continue to educate our advocates, so they can be the local voice and share their learnings back to the broader organization.” We know our recruiters are talking to candidates every day, so we can leveraging those touchpoints, to get further insights.

She said their high-level objective from this data gathering is to refine how they market Expedia Group and align to a candidate experience that attracts the best talent.

“When we're done, we want to see that we're competing more effectively for talent,” said Jeanne. “And that talent that we find fits our expectations consistently around the globe.”

We want each regional team to easily deploy experience improvements with their own local flavor based on regional distinctions. Jeanne Blair
Jeanne and the Expedia Group team are continuing to work through culture change in their organization and driving a candidate-centric mindset throughout the whole process. According to Jeanne, the work they've done so far is still just the beginning.

“For 2019, we're focused on the pain points for just one part of the experience,” said Jeanne. “Then, we'll just keep tackling step-by-step — when we are done going end to end — we'll likely have enough data to refine and iterate the overall process.”

But, with employees in more than 30 countries, they also must templatize their learnings to be deployed globally.

“Right now, we're fleshing out our minimum viable product,” explained Jeanne. “We want each regional team to easily deploy experience improvements with their own local flavor based on regional distinctions. We don't want to be overly prescriptive, but we want it to feel the same.”

She and her team are hoping that strategy will help them achieve global adoption. “We want people to take the package (the process & technology that supports a given experience) and know what parts are required and which are flexible,” she explained.

One challenge their team is still facing is Expedia Group's decentralized nature.

It takes a lot of trust to get enough people engaged in a hiring culture and feel comfortable with telling the Expedia Group story. Jeanne Blair
“It takes a lot of trust to get enough people engaged in a hiring culture and feel comfortable with telling the Expedia Group story,” said Jeanne. “Despite our still somewhat decentralized structure, we are getting people aligned to a vision,” said Jeanne. “Once people are aligned, the rest is easy.”

According to Jeanne, they have a lot of enthusiasm within the organization to change and make things better. “So we're trying to harness that excitement as we move forward,” she said.

Based on experience so far, she advises leveraging expertise outside of traditional HR function.

“We are leveraging our partners in marketing, public relations, technology, and finance to help us keep this project moving forward,” she said.

She also drove home that tackling a project of this scale is a journey, and one has to be in it for the long haul.

“It's not going to happen overnight,” she said. “I like to show results really quickly, but it just takes time to get people onboard so I would just encourage patience and listening.”

Jeanne Blair has been a member of the Talent Marketing Board since 2018. You can follow her on LinkedIn.