How Anglo American Scaled Job Applications for Candidates Who Lack Internet Access

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Problem: Limited Technology Access for Job-Seeking Population

In South Africa, where Anglo American hires thousands of employees every year, the company can receive as many as 15,000-20,000 paper resumes per week. To hire, recruiters had to physically go through boxes full of CVs and key the information into an ATS. The paper system was still in use because many potential applicants lack internet access, have no email addresses, and rely on 2G feature phones over a decade old. Applicants typically pay a third party about the equivalent of an hour’s wage to create a CV and print it out.

Anglo American had many job openings and a large jobseeking population but no efficient way to connect them. When Sean Swan, Resourcing Transformation Process & Reporting Lead: Group HR, at Anglo American brought SmartRecruiters on board as a the company-wide ATS, he sought a solution for the staffing issue in South Africa. He believed SmartRecruiters could help the company provide jobs to country’s most disadvantaged job seekers—those without internet access.

About AngloAmerican

  • Industry: Minerals & Mining
  • Region: Global
  • Countries: 15 (56 Sites)
  • Employees: 63,000
  • Headquarters: London, UK
  • Hiring Model: Centralized

Anglo American is a leading global mining company that mines and processes the metals and minerals used in the products of everyday life.
With people at the heart of its business, Anglo American uses innovative practices and the latest technologies to discover new resources and mine, process, move and market their products to their customers worldwide – safely, responsibly, and sustainably.

Solution: Connect 1997 Technology With a Modern ATS

The answer to the problem lay in technology that was first standardized in 1997: Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD)*. SmartRecruiters developed a system specifically for Anglo American that displays a unique USSD code on each job posting. An applicant accesses the recruiting system by entering the code on any mobile phone – no internet access needed. After entering their 13-digit identification number displayed on South African government-issued Smart ID cards, the candidate can access their profile. The system populates the candidate profile into SmartRecruiters and then qualifies each applicant by asking a sequence of text-based questions.

Solution: Connect 1997 Technology With a Modern ATS

Giving Candidates Visibility

Applying for jobs is often a black box. An amazing side effect of the new text-based system was that candidates had full visibility into their application status. All they had to do was enter their personal application code from any phone, on-demand, 24/7.

Promoting Personal Safety

During COVID, applying for a job was not a safe or easy prospect for the target population. Not only did applicants have to leave the house and pay to have their CVs created, they often walked long distances to the mines and stood in line to submit applications. With the introduction of the USSD application process, they could apply from their phones at home or from the phone of a trusted friend or family member.

An Unexpected Test to the System

Just how scalable is a USSD-based system? Anglo American and SmartRecruiters found out when someone posted a USSD code for an engineering internship on the popular online forum Reddit. Within 12 hours, over 12,500 candidates applied for the role. The SmartRecruiters system proved its worth by effortlessly processing the sudden volume of applications.

An Unexpected Test to the System

Result: A Scalable System for the People

Technology is only the answer to a problem if the people it is meant to serve can use it. “We did this for the people,” Sean explained, and SmartRecruiters was the perfect partner to help Anglo American put people first. Now, people in South Africa’s poorest communities have greater access to job opportunities in a way that protects their safety and leverages the technology they use the most.

Key Outcomes

In the first six months, the USSD project in South Africa achieved:

  • 12,500 applications processed within 1 hour during unexpected stress test.
  • 26,000 applicants and 79 hires through USSD platform.
  • Processing time reduced to less than 1 minute from 2-3 weeks for paper applications.

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About SmartRecruiters

As a global leader in enterprise recruitment software, SmartRecruiters offers a cloud-based global Talent Acquisition Suite that allows teams to attract, select, and hire the best talent. 4,000 companies worldwide rely on SmartRecruiters to achieve hiring success—including brands like Bosch, LinkedIn, Skechers, and Visa—using recruitment marketing, CRM, AI, ATS, and a marketplace of 600+ connected vendors all within one scalable platform.

True to its mission of connecting people to jobs at scale, SmartRecruiters was recognized by Forbes as one of the Best Employers in 2020. For more information, visit or follow @SmartRecruiters on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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