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When Cutuli Guillaume accepted the position as country manager for Decathlon Group, a leading French-based sporting goods supplier and producer with retail stores across the world, one of the first tasks he faced was recruiting capable, eager and dynamic Cambodians for management positions.

With the company on the move—it already has six key suppliers manufacturing sports apparel and shoes in Cambodia, and is looking to expand—first class management would be key to its success.

Guillaume soon found that to find the right people, he would have to dig deeper than the traditional methods of recruitment: CVs and interviews.

Decathlon

“When you look at an applicant’s CV and give them a one on one interview, you can never be quite sure how capable the candidate is. It is difficult to understand their personality,” he says.

“We previously had problems finding candidates. One of the problems was that nobody knew about our company. The other problem was that the candidates were not the autonomous free thinkers that we were looking for.”

In need of a strategy to source the best candidates to grow Decathlon as a business, Guillaume enlisted the help of Visal Roathtepi, a human resources consultant from Saint Blanquat & A.

A new and unique recruitment strategy
Recognising the role that social media play in the lives of young Cambodians, Guillaume and Roathtepi created a unique recruitment campaign, which went beyond CVs and interviews. The campaign even allowed for unqualified hopefuls to apply, so long as they demonstrated a willingness to learn.

The first step was to connect to the public, through a two-minute video describing the company and the work environment. The video was initially posted on Top Job Cambodia’s YouTube channel with limited success.

“After that, we decided to embed the video directly onto the Top Job Cambodia Facebook page and website,” Roathtepi says, adding that they also used their newsletter to draw in applicants.

Top Job Cambodia is a recruitment portal designed to help young Cambodians generate CVs and acquire entry-level positions. It also provides additional services to employers through employer branding, social media campaigns and job fair events. Once Decathlon’s video hit social media, the recruitment campaign took off.

“Cambodians are active on Facebook and use it to network, tell stories and share things. Why not use it to find a job?” Roathtepi says. “It quickly became clear that Facebook was effective and helped us reach our target audience.”

The video currently has more than 65,000 views.

Candidates reveal their potential in real-life situations
The second part of the unique campaign involved a recruitment day designed to test applicants on their team and leadership skills. With the promise that two candidates would be hired on the spot, Roathtepi came up with an exercise that involved spaghetti noodles, marshmallows and tape.

The candidates were split into groups and were asked to build a structure that would not collapse under different weights. “The goal wasn’t really to see how well the candidates could actually build a structure, but to see what type of leadership traits they possessed,” Guillaume says.

He recalls looking for candidates that not only took the lead, but also those who waited, analysed the situation, and then contributed. And from that session, Guillaume and Roathtepi were able to identify candidates that suited the job.

Watch the video campaign

The best employee doesn’t always have the best CV
One of those hired on the spot was 25-year-old Pich Makara, who was previously a production manager for a local BBC television show.

Makara says that he was initially apprehensive about his chances of being employed by Decathlon, but applied after viewing the video about the company. When he arrived at the recruitment day and began socialising with other candidates, he again became nervous as he realised many were better qualified for the job.

In the group session, however, Makara was able to show that despite others having stronger CVs, he was right for the job.

“Instead of a face to face interview where you are unsure of what to say, the team environment allowed me to be comfortable and express my ideas,” Makara says.

Doung Chivin, 28, who has a background in information technology, was another who thrived in the group session and also landed a job. Like Makara, he appreciated the chance to show his skills in a unique way.

“What makes this campaign unique is that it actively encourages people to apply through social media without having to deal with all the paperwork, even if you doubt your skills in a different industry,” Chivin says. “If more companies use this type of strategy, I’m confident that more young people will apply and get positions that will develop their skills and career.”

“They won’t be afraid to take the risk to get better jobs.”

Decathlon plans to keep using this recruitment method throughout the year so that “we can make sure we don’t miss the right candidate,” says Guillaume.

“We are always looking for young people with few experiences that are still fresh and have the energy to bring new ideas.”


Text by Kali Kotoski | Photograph by Choun Keochindara