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National Broadband Ireland: High volume hiring to help roll out the nation’s largest infrastructural project since electricity


National Broadband Ireland (NBI), responsible for bringing high-speed broadband to rural Ireland.


Hire an entire workforce to support a seven year build and 25 year maintenance programme.


365 new hires across a range of expertise areas, with a 99% fulfilment rate for the project.

What was the impact?
  • 21,000+ candidates engaged globally

  • 2,000+ CVs sent

  • 1,100+ first round interviews

  • 365 new hires at 99% fulfilment rate

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Much of rural Ireland struggles with poor fibre broadband connectivity. As a result, the nation has been sliding into rural depopulation, with social and economic development dwindling away from main towns and cities. The government decided action needed to be taken.

The project, consisting of a seven year build programme and a 25 year maintenance programme, to transform connectivity and bring high-speed broadband to more of the country was put to tender. Being the largest infrastructural development since the introduction of electricity, it generated significant interest.

Despite being an outsider in comparison to some of the competition, National Broadband Ireland (NBI) won the bid. But now they had the sizeable challenge of hiring an entire workforce to make it happen…

The client

NBI is the telecommunications service provider responsible for the mammoth project of designing, building and operating the new high-speed broadband network to rural Ireland. In doing so, they are striving to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas. NBI

The challenge

With only 10 senior leadership in place, NBI needed to hire a full workforce of 300 to build and maintain a totally new network, via two operating companies:

  • NBI Deployment (the 7 year build programme) - responsible for laying cables, developing the overhead network, and underground when needed.
  • NBI Infrastructure (the 25 year maintenance programme) - responsible for maintaining operations once the infrastructure has been installed.

From the start, there were challenges: Controversy over the planning and a lack of brand awareness about NBI - it’s never straightforward for a project of this scale that is heavily in the public eye.

The roles required spanned Technical, Telecoms, Construction, Project Management, Supply Chain, Procurement, Build & Design and Health & Safety for NBI Deployment, and Finance, Legal, HR, Marketing, IT, Operations, Transformation, Network Technology and Commercial for NBI Infrastructure; the majority on a permanent basis, a number on fixed term contracts, and a few contractors.

Once the contract was awarded to NBI, they wanted to start hiring asap. But with many hoops to jump through, the signing process took several months. This created a bit of a predicament as any hiring activity would result in the candidates being provisionally hired, without any contractual commitment…

This became reality as we had 40 people lined up, but no contracts to tie them down - candidate management was our focus to keep them engaged. This was the case for some time, before we got the go ahead to release contracts on Christmas Eve. Astoundingly, only one of those 40 didn’t take the role.

At that point, we recognised the pulling power of this nationally significant project.

The solution

With a small HR team, NBI did not have capacity to complete the large-scale hiring project in-house. They were reliant on us to look after the full recruitment life cycle, including shaping the interview process and putting together the job descriptions - which they trusted us to advertise straight onto their and our website.

Before any searching commenced, our FDI team pulled together extensive research which allowed us to advise the client on a suitable benefits package taking into account current market conditions.

We initially deployed a team of three, but soon scaled to a team of six. The full project was run by our team fully remotely.

Due to the magnitude of the project, and once we were able to name the client in job listings, it was actually quite easy to promote the vacancies. People were eager to be part of bringing broadband to rural Ireland - a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Still, the right talent had to be found. In order to do this, we looked primarily at the Irish market. For a number of the more technical roles, though, the team had to look further afield, where the talent pool has past experience of delivering similar projects using the new technologies. We sourced candidates from across Europe and even reached out to Irish nationals living in Australia, who were keen to return home.

The hiring process initially started with three rounds of interviews, followed by an HR call. Noticing how time consuming this was for the senior leaders at NBI, we streamlined it down to two rounds with the HR call absorbed into that. Whilst NBI were still sorting out their premises, we supported the process by allowing them to hold interviews in our offices.

Because the programmes received public funding, NBI needed to be able to report back to the government on progress. We were able to supply all the information needed to ensure they were meeting expectations.

Throughout the project, there were multiple changes in our contacts at NBI, meaning we continually had to prove ourselves. The best way to do that? Always delivering at an exceptional level.

The benefits

This was an incredibly pleasing project to be tasked with; finding the talent for such an influential piece of work, seeing it through from start to finish, building the entire programme from nothing.

Some key stats from the project:

  • 21,000+ candidates globally engaged - creating strong brand awareness for NBI
  • 6,000+ applications received for the 300 vacancies
  • 2,000+ CVs sent to the client
  • 1,100+ first round interviews booked
  • 99% fulfilment rate
  • 365 roles filled, 65 more than originally planned

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