The aim of this report is to study some of the current recruitment and selection processes and to analyze the practices applied by the Inditex Group, with the intention of drawing as a conclusion which are the characteristics that enshrine this company as an example of success.
The fashion industry is a fundamental pillar of the European economy and employs millions of people. According to the EURATEX (2019), its 16 member countries represent a group of 171,000 companies, with a turnover of 178 billion euros and 1.7 million workers.
Regarding the European Union, Spain ranks fifth behind Germany, the United Kingdom France and Italy, and its activity represents one-tenth of the EU. Saying "made in Spain" means providing a differential value to the product and this is partly due to the paradigmatic model of fast fashion developed by Inditex that has placed Spanish fashion as a world reference (El Confidencial, 2018; Arribas,V. Josa, E., Bravo, S., García, I. and San Miguel, P. 2016).
Zara emerged as a combination of the department stores model and bazaars, to attract a middle-class audience with the intention of acquiring fashion at affordable prices. As a result of its success, it would become the foundation of the Inditex Group, to which Pull&Bear, MassimoDutti, Oysho, Stradivarius, Berska, Zara Home and Kiddy's Class also belong (Inditex Official Website, 2019).
Inditex´ direct rivals are the Swedish multinational H&M, the Irish Primark and the American GAP, which progressively increases its importance in Europe and in the Spanish market through El Corte Inglés. However, Inditex is at the forefront of the world's fashion companies because it has difficult-to-imitate factors that give it a clear competitive advantage (Gonzalez-Rodriguez, A. 2016). Its market capitalization is larger than the one of its three main competitors together. Inditex closed the 2018 financial year with sales of 26,145 million euros, an increase of 3.2% compared to the previous year, while H&M finished the year with sales of 20.298 million, GAP with 14.564 million and Primark with 8.560 million euros (Montes,L. 2019).
2. CURRENT RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION METHODS APPLICABLE TO THE FASHION INDUSTRY
Maella (2010) stated that the correct management of the recruitment and selection processes is essential to incorporate new profiles and detect ideal talent. The selection of personnel depends on the type of business and the methods used are very varied, from the most traditional to the most modern techniques – which will be described in detail in section 2. It can be noted that the real importance is that these methods fit the organization´s needs, which is a clear differentiation factor.
Recruitment is the search process inside and outside the organization, which studies the needs of the position and encourages the right people to apply for a vacancy; while the selection process measures the probabilities that the candidate meets those previously identified needs (Bretons, F. 2008). When such processes are effective, the organization not only attracts individuals interested in working in the company but also increases the chances of retaining them once hired (Perez, 2019). Therefore, these processes include several stages that must be designed to thoroughly evaluate the candidate.
When a company detects the need to recruit talent, it has two options: using traditional or modern techniques (Perez, 2019; Ruiz, 2018). The following briefly mentions traditional techniques to continue with a more detailed description of the modern ones, in view of their subsequent application to the Inditex Group analysis.
2.1 TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES
Companies have been using the following methods of selection:
- Curriculum analysis. This allows the company to know in a summary way the personal, academic and work data of any candidate
- Suggestions for job candidates made by the employees of the company themselves
- Selection interviews, which is a highly recommended method although it is expensive and slow for companies
- Knowledge and skills tests
- Personality tests
(Bretones, F. 2008; Rodríguez García, C.M. 2017).
Among these methods, it may be especially interesting to highlight the conduct of personality tests because, during the selection process, other issues such as the new employee's fit to the current team and the entity's values come into play. This technique studies the candidates´ behaviour by observing their reaction to different circumstances, and it checks if they approach what the company is really looking for. In addition, some positions may require specific skills; for example, as a team manager we will look for a leader, an innovative and ambitious person. In addition, during the selection it is also important to know what the candidates´ motivations are (Perez, O. 2019).
2.2 MODERN TECHNIQUES
Digital transformation has greatly influenced recruitment and selection processes, making recruiters have to apply new techniques known as Recruitment 4.0. (Acciona, 2018; Human Resources Blog, UOC X, 2010). These techniques are explained below.
Interviews with new approach
The ideal would be to combine different types of interviews. Despite this, it is necessary to point out that there are some common elements to any interview: to confirm the CV´s data; to know the candidates´ objectives, their values and expectations regarding the selection process: to know if they fit with the company´s needs; to check their possible adaptability to the position. Moreover, interviews provide information about their reactions taking into account verbal and nonverbal communication. More recently, interviews can be online, through videoconferences, an effective timesaving and cost-saving method. Some seemingly crazy questions can be asked – what do you think of picture sweaters? – to prove the candidate's creative potential. The company can also use role-playing games or extreme situations in which the candidate is proposed to interpret a role to check how he or she works under pressure, for example, to serve a customer who wants to make a claim (Human Resources Blog, UOC X, 2010).
Game elements are applied to staff selection making the process playful. This allows the interviewer to evaluate the candidate's skills directly and explore their reactions to extrapolate them to the day-to-day life of the organization. Regarding the recruiter, the benefits of using gamification are obvious as it saves time and performs the most continuous process. For the candidates, the main aspect to be highlighted is that they will not feel nervous or be influenced by the pressure of the environment. Therefore, it is possible to obtain continuous feedback without the need to subject the candidate to high stress (Gómez, J. 2017).
Selection through Social Media
65% of companies already use professional social media, such as LinkedIn, in their selection processes, as a recent study done by the Society for Human Resource Management assures (Acciona, 2018). Social networks are digital tools that allow companies to know the professional skills, to access recommendations and to observe the type of future worker´s social interactions. In addition, they allow companies to contact – even before making the public offer – with members of the network whose profile is considered interesting (Human Resources Blog, UOC X, 2010).
Candidate information and curriculum screening are managed by applying new systems capable of managing with millions of data. According to Ignacio Crespo, head of Talent and Organizational Change at IBM Spain: "Big data applied to the work environment can help executives discover patterns of behavior and motivation, allowing Human Resources departments and managers to make smarter and more effective decisions, thus improving their business results" (Barceló, J.C, 2017).
It consists of creating an employer brand image so attractive that the workers themselves
wish to be in the company. Branding involves knowing what kind of workers will be needed and which are their interests and establishing open communications with candidates. The talents themselves are the ones who choose to work in the company, so the idea is to attract talent and retain it (Backhaus, K. and Tikoo, S. 2004).
It consists of applying digital marketing techniques to the recruitment and selection process, which is based on incentivizing the candidate's affinity towards the brand. It is an option among the larger companies to look for attractive specialized professionals with experience. To achieve this, it is necessary to generate an attractive and binding image so that the workers themselves might become brand ambassadors (Barceló, J.C, 2018).
Fashion is favored by change. This is taken into account by the industry and Inditex with its concept of "fast fashion" is proof of that. Likewise, in their selection and recruitment processes they are aware of being the first one to incorporate changes to combine the new methods with the traditional ones.
The new era in recruitment techniques is also due to other reasons not strictly linked to technological development, such as the commitment of companies to the satisfaction of their employees, the retention of talent and the importance of digital reputation. As we will see, these objectives are very present in the Inditex Group. Therefore, the key is to find the combination that best fits the organization.
3. INDITEX GROUP ANALYSIS
Based on the methods mentioned in section 2 and maintaining the initial idea that the importance is that the techniques fit the needs of the organization, the concrete practices employed by the Inditex Group are analyzed below.
To attract talent, Inditex carries out a thorough selection process characterized by the application of modern techniques, mainly Employer Branding and Inbound Recruiting. The company (Inditex Official Website, 2019), with more than 150,000 professionals, explains that the Group's corporate culture is based on teamwork, open communication and self-demand. The squad is mostly female and young, with an average age of 28.
Inditex´ recruitment process is developed through its employer brand: Inditex Careers. The aim of Inditex Careers is to concentrate, and channel job offers from the 4 areas of activity: shops, product, logistics and offices. All of the following are based on the information obtained from this portal (Inditex Careers. Inditex Group Employment Website, 2019).
The initial contact method is an online form and once registered, the candidate knows the job offers available. The country, brand, workspace must be selected and the CV must be inserted. The company then calls the preselected candidates for a group interview and they participate in a group dynamic with 15 or 20 people that consists of watching videos about the company to start a debate. Finally, applicants fill out another form with personal data and work experience in the textile sector.
Those who are selected go on to the personal interview phase. Examples of questions that can be asked are: What do you think is the most important value of an employee to work at Inditex?, What qualities do you think you can bring to Inditex?, Do you prefer to work as a team or individually? (Author´s Personal Job Interview with Inditex, 2018). A language test is also done for positions abroad.
Inditex seeks efficient, responsible and capable people to act under pressure. Recruiters value the creativity, willingness, and commitment shown by candidates. It is important to be honest in answers, demonstrate the ability to work as a team and the security to acquire responsibilities (Inditex Official Website, 2019). As one of the largest textile companies in the world, Inditex also values clothing. In fact, in the documentary Planet Zara (2011) before the opening of its store in Harajuku, the young neighborhood of Tokyo, the shop manager reminds their new employees: "We are a company that sells image and if we sell it, we have also to give it."
Finally, after selection, the person will rotate through the different company areas for 6 months. This allows the new employee to acquire a holistic view of the job and a better understanding of the department. After this time, a specific position will be assigned (Inditex Career, 2019).
However, Inditex Careers is not only focused on receiving applications but is looking to be a global job site. The Group boosted its participation in social networks and renewed its employer brand image with the intention of bringing its philosophy closer and giving a personalized treatment to the hundreds of people interested in working with Inditex (Inditex Group Annual Report 2018).
The organization seeks to attract external talent but also looks at the talent of those who are already part of it. The Vacant Finder is a system for publishing internal positions so that employees can apply for them. Inditex believes that its stores are the main focus of talent and sensitivity to understand the customer. Therefore, all Inditex employees go through their stores, where they receive training. In fact, 55% of the additions in Inditex are internal promotions so this data reaffirms the store as the main quarry for the company (Inditex Group Annual Report 2018).
To complete the recruitment process Inditex (2019) has two other tools: the InTalent and Project Go! systems. The first one, is intended to better reach store employees. It works by centralizing the information of employees ‘curriculum and it allows them to reflect their work concerns and aspirations for progress in the company. The second system, arises to find, select and attract junior talent. Inditex´s commitment to hiring newly graduated young people, who are trained and who are offered professional development within the Group, has become a strength against their rivals (Inditex Official Website, 2019).
These contracting practices are very different from those applied by other organizations in the textile sector based on the department store model; for example, El Corte Inglés. In times with great customer attendance, department stores launch massive job offers, for which no experience is required, using traditional recruitment techniques, with the aim of strengthening their workforce. (El Español, 2019). In these organizations, the Human Resources management policy does not facilitate internal promotion, which ends up discouraging staff and consolidates a more aged workforce over time, which makes the company´s image less attractive. This hinders the constant increase in sales and, therefore, the growth of the company.
Inditex applies hiring techniques in line with its goal of presenting itself as an attractive and modern fashion brand and is aware of the importance this has in ensuring its growth. Inditex not only achieves this with a large team of designers who permanently renew the supply of collections in its stores, nor is it just due to its efficient logistics system, but also seeks, above all, to maintain good management and high satisfaction of its customers due to the work of its staff.
A true reflection of a customer-facing company philosophy is the fact that all staff begin their professional development as a shop assistant. Inditex, therefore, applies a strong internal promotion policy to encourage the motivation of its employees (Inditex Careers, 2019).
Recruiting staff is not an easy task because it requires time and dedication of companies for the process to be fruitful. Both traditional and modern techniques have a place in the recruitment and selection processes that fashion companies carry out.
Based on the previous information developed in sections 2 and 3, it is possible to note that the most recommended hiring model should be attractive, dynamic and talent-boosting. Also, it is important to be clear about the profile sought and to opt for a specific technique of selection in which fair and cordial interviews are conducted.
The Inditex Group combines all these features. Its method of selection is aimed at a profile of young people who are familiar with new technologies. The company’s internal promotion efforts improve the working climate and involve a lower cost to the organization. On the other hand, it carries out recruitment processes for new talent outside the organization that also benefits the Group with new experiences. Inditex pays special attention to the candidate´s treatment and it is aware of the importance of a properly executed interview to obtain information on attitudes, values and interviewee´s preferences. Throughout the process, the company tries to give the best service and attention to the professional, regardless of whether or not she or he is chosen, which is an additional plus for both the candidate and the company.
As possible improvement recommendations, Inditex may consider:
- Including personality tests, well accompanied by the online form that is made through its website at the beginning of the process or once the group interview has already been conducted to further refine the selection.
- Expanding its job-posting platforms so as not to limit its unique search potential to those registered on its website.
- Foster partnerships with universities, facilitating the realization of business practices through which university students would know by first-hand what the day-to-day life of Inditex is like. This would give way to emerging ties of union with the organization and could even generate in students the desire to enter the company once graduates. In addition, the Group would benefit because enhancing these relationships would allow to directly attract new talent, to those who give training and offer a professional development within the company.
Therefore, the management practices for the Inditex recruitment and selection processes fit perfectly with its business model. This should be the objective that all companies must pursue.
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