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Case study

How DCA is Recruiting Diverse Creatives with Virtual Portfolios

Optimizing diversity and inclusion (D&I) is a major focus point for design-led architectural firm David Chipperfield Architects, London—and Pinpoint is helping to identify the gaps in their recruitment plan.

In one hiring round, DCA found that only 10 out of 400 applicants were Black. None had been selected for an interview. The Talent Acquisition team was already using Pinpoint’s blind recruiting tool to hide applicants’ personal information before interview selection, so they dug deeper to find out what was going on. 

As it turned out, all ten Black applicants had submitted unusual applications—meaning that their designs and qualifications were different than what the team was used to. So DCA’s recruitment team invited them to come in for an interview.

That pool of ten applicants yielded four successful hires, all of whom are doing great work and lending a unique perspective. Diversity and creativity are closely linked, and DCA is thrilled to have found a new path to standout talent.

“We’re reinventing recruitment altogether. In our campaign to improve diversity, we’re proud to say we’re doing really well. Having Pinpoint on board is helping us do that more effectively.

Amy Stein
Head of People Operations

Today they’re 120 employees strong, hailing from 37 different nationalities. Design portfolios have moved off paper and into a single online platform where they can be tracked and managed by the whole team—all without sacrificing design.

Because DCA competes for top talent in a relatively narrow field of applicants, it’s critical for them to act quickly when they see a candidate with potential—and to broaden their view of what potential looks like.

Read on to learn how DCA is revolutionizing their hiring process with Pinpoint.

Never going back to paper

DCA is a design-led firm that specializes in difficult, unique, and unusual projects. The creative nature of their work meant that paper portfolios were still strongly preferred right up until the pandemic. Paper allowed for additional creativity that applicants and hiring managers enjoyed. Remote work has changed all that—and now, Amy says, “we’re never going back to paper.”

Before using Pinpoint, DCA manually managed a wide variety of application components in print and via email. With so much on paper, it was difficult to keep track of candidates they liked but hadn’t hired. 

“It was a nightmare,” Amy told us. “How do you keep in touch with people? Plus, their application is probably in a locked filing cabinet somewhere in the office, and we were all working from home during lockdown, it was just not practical.”

On top of the practicalities, today’s market moves so fast that the window of time between application and job offer is days, not weeks. “If we hesitate at all, candidates are gone,” Amy says. Pinpoint keeps the process moving quickly by storing applicant info, communication, scorecards, and everything else they need in a single platform.

More hiring, less hassle

Most people find Pinpoint very intuitive. They like just being able to go in and do what they need to do.

There are still some sticky points that make architecture a different beast than most applicant tracking systems are prepared to handle—like the fact that initial screens are based on design portfolios, not CVs. In order to make blind screening work, DCA must ask applicants to leave their names and photos off their design PDF, and it doesn’t always happen.

But the pros far outweigh the imperfections, Amy says. There’s no filing email or fussing with over-large attachments.

What a revolution. To have that everything in one place is fantastic.

Not to mention that it’s much easier to provide and collect feedback this way, too. Some of the team still miss handwritten notes and paper portfolios, but Pinpoint is so much easier that they’re willing to let it go. “They have to mourn that and move on, because we’re not going back to paper. It’s just too much work.”

With Pinpoint, the team screens applicants quickly, reviewing comments and star ratings without messing around with the manual back-and-forth.

Lots to love about Pinpoint

One of DCA’s favorite things about Pinpoint is the virtual trail of breadcrumbs they leave without even trying. “It’s easy to see who said what to which candidate, and that makes for a great candidate experience,” says Amy. It also helps with GDPR compliance because they don’t have to go back and search out files for deletion.

When we asked Amy why DCA chose Pinpoint, she didn’t hesitate. “It was the scorecards,” she said. “The scorecards really work for us, and they’re visually engaging. We’re a team of designers, so engaging visuals  matters to us.”

Scorecards are helping DCA increase their diversity by focusing on the right factors. “It’s about understanding what success genuinely looks like, not what we think it should look like,” says Amy. 

Advanced education is a requirement in the architecture field, so alma maters tend to matter. Hiring managers are much more excited to hire people attached to their old university than those who studied elsewhere. 

We’re trying to broaden the factors we’re looking for, and Pinpoint’s scorecards have really helped us do that.

Since then, Amy and her team have found a lot to love about Pinpoint:

  • Equality monitoring: Equality monitoring has helped with DCA’s diversity goals: “We’re re-thinking how we’re sourcing and choosing candidates. We’ve been able to question our process and redesign it from the ground up.”
  • Referral portal: DCA can see where recent architecture grads are coming from and who’s referring the best-quality candidates.
  • Customization: When working with initiatives like the Be More Inclusive program, DCA can dedicate folders and workflows just to those hires so the process is crystal-clear. They can customize different stages for different hires and label them any way they choose.
  • Tags: Tags have helped DCA sort, prioritize, and assign candidates, enabling them to quickly sort through a pool of hundreds to find who belongs in an interview and who should remain in the pipeline.

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