Magazine article Workforce Management

Paperless Route for Recruiting

Magazine article Workforce Management

Paperless Route for Recruiting

Article excerpt


Continental dumps an antiquated process in favor of an online system to meet new global hiring demands

Two years ago, senior management at Continental Airlines announced that the company would have to turn to international markets to survive. Executives outlined a plan to expand on five continents -immediately.

Within two months, the company moved from an antiquated, labor-intensive domestic recruiting process to a global Web-enabled and paperless approach that allows it to staff any location worldwide with half the number of recruiters and at half the cost of the old system. Continental launched 10 new international destinations in 2005 and used the new technology to recruit 3,200 new hires for locations ranging from Argentina to India.

More than one-fourth of all employees of U.S.-based multinationals now work outside the United States, and that portion is growing far more rapidly than the domestic workforce. With many industries facing the same globalization imperative that has hit the U.S. airlines, the recruiting function must be prepared to staff new destinations with unprecedented speed.

Within the past few years, Web-enabled systems have created the potential to source the global workforce with the same flexibility and technological sophistication that multinational companies use to source other materials and components. A major prerequisite for this achievement is the consolidation of information so that workforce planning and recruiting decisions can occur on an international scale.


When the mandate to expand globally came down, Continental was swimming in the paper generated by an inefficient recruiting process. Under the old system, the airline advertised jobs in U.S. newspapers and then flew recruiters out to do open calls for hundreds of candidates at hotels in major cities.

"We had nine full-time employees just scanning in paper résumés or cleaning electronic résumés," recalls Kimberly Paul, manager of global recruiting. With the mandate to expand internationally, Continental faced the decision of expanding recruiting departments in each territory or adopting a Web-based approach. "The directive came from corporate that we had to go paperless," she says.

Continental tapped iCIMS' iRecruiter to create a Web-based operation so that candidates and recruiters could access the system from any of Continental's international flight destinations while still maintaining the company's unique screening and interviewing procedures. "We started fresh and did not migrate old information," Paul says. "We rolled the system out first for the United States and then went global, all within two months and in a very seamless process."

Continental no longer uses any newspaper advertising in the United States, and very little elsewhere. Successful U.S. candidates are flown into Houston or Newark, New Jersey, for interviews with a recruiting staff that no longer travels. "I'm not a technical expert, but I was able to train our recruiters onto iRecruiter in a matter of hours," Paul says. "They love the system." Now Continental handles 80,000 applications a year with an exceptionally lean staff.

When Continental enters a new international destination, it does a full launch with announcements in the local media about the start of service. "This drives people to the Web site, where we have posted the open positions," Paul says. "Résumés arrive electronically in Houston, and we e-mail the candidates information for on-site interviews."

In July 2005, Continental posted 30 positions to staff the new location in Delhi, India, and received thousands of applications.


One of the biggest advantages of the Web-based system is the automatic screening process that culls unqualified candidates before they proceed to the application. Continental's flight attendant candidates, for example, move through 41 questions before the formal application. …

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