Best Practices in Recruiting — ERE Excellence Awards 2010 (Part 3 of 4)

Apr 5, 2010

In parts one and two of this series we covered the best practices of the winner and finalist in the employee referral, employer branding, and corporate career site categories of this year’s ERE Recruiting Excellence Awards. It’s hard to capture using just a few bullet points the degree to which organizations selected have thought through their efforts, but as you are reading through the series, I hope you are comparing your organization and contemplating how you stack up. The one thing that separates nearly all winners from the rest of the pack is the relentless application of learning to improve existing processes or devise new ones.

This installment will cover the college recruiting, retention, and strategic use of technology categories.

While many with the economy in mind might think that not much happened in these areas this past year, the truth is that a good number of award applicants worked hard to innovate in each of these categories.

Excellence in College Recruiting

This award goes to the recruiting department that has best demonstrated its excellence in all aspects of college recruiting. Worldwide there has been a reduction in the volume of college recruiting taking place, but fortunately there has been no letup in innovation in the tools and strategies used. As a turnaround begins, updated college recruiting plans and strategies must already be operational.

Winner — Ernst & Young

As one of the “big four,” Ernst & Young’s thirst for new talent to fill the ranks of its professional service workforce is unending. Despite noticeable economic impacts on their business, Ernst & Young invested as usual, hiring 2,700 new graduates from over 300 of the best colleges and universities in North America. Over the years Ernst & Young have pioneered new approaches, been early adopters of technology, and demonstrated unwavering commitment to seeking out the best and brightest. Some of its key college recruiting accomplishments include:

  • “Best Place to work” rankings — Ernst & Young has successfully developed one of the strongest college recruiting employer brands in any industry. For the second year in a row, business and accounting students ranked Ernst & Young as Universum’s #1 IDEAL Employer of US undergraduates. Across all majors, E&Y is the highest-ranked accounting firm, coming in at #6 overall. Diverse students studying accounting rated them as the #1 Ideal Employer for the second year in a row on Universum’s Undergraduate Survey.
  • A CRM model — Ernst and Young manages its priority campuses in the same way that the firm manages its client relationships, with highly organized student-focused teams whose goal is to build strong relationships with students, faculty, and the administration. Each priority campus team is led by a Campus Coordinating Partner, supported by a range of additional client-serving professionals representing various service lines, geographic locations, and ranks within the firm. (Currently over 1,500 client-serving professionals and 75 dedicated recruiters work on campus teams.)
  • Executive involvement — each corporate board member, including the Chairman and CEO Jim Turley are expected to make regular campus visits.
  • Contests — this year it launched its “Your World Your Vision” contest, which invited teams of students to propose how they could make a difference at a local level through community responsibility. Winning teams were awarded $10,000 to implement their concept.
  • Simulation — it launched a new virtual reality simulation called “Flexspace” that allows students to explore how work and personal commitments can both coexist in the Ernst & Young culture.
  • Facebook — it launched its Connect2U, a Facebook application that connects students to campus events and recruiters. (Each year E&Y has invested in improving its presence on Facebook and in innovating how the channel can be used to better attract and support potential applicants).
  • Intern conference — once again, E&Y was the only ‘Big Four’ organization to hold an International Intern Leadership Conference. It was attended by 1,700 students from over 20 countries.
  • Intern Leadership Program — this pre-internship experience brought freshman and sophomores into E&Y offices during the summer to learn more about the benefits of a career in accounting. The success of these programs has led to over 90% conversion rate of interns to full-time hires for the past three years.
  • Inclusiveness program — the Inclusiveness Recruiting team spent time with university officials at nine priority schools to brainstorm how E&Y can help schools increase diversity across their student population. In addition, in 2009 it created the Ernst & Young Faculty Inclusiveness Awards to help students recognize faculty members who advance inclusiveness on their campuses.

Finalist — Rosetta

This 700-employee privately held interactive marketing and advertising firm is a global leader when it comes to designing award winning, innovative solutions for their clients, so it should come as no surprise that their dedication to excellence carries over into their recruiting effort. Rosetta puts a heavy emphasis on college recruiting, as 44% of all hires at Rosetta are sourced from college campuses. Their college recruiting program is led by two dedicated recruiters and supported by approximately 125 alumni team members. Some of its key accomplishments in college recruiting include:

  • Awards — its award-winning internship program was the winner of the NEOSA’s Best Internship Program Award. The program gives interns the opportunity to spend approximately 70% of their time on client engagements and 30% on structured training, internal initiatives, social events, and community involvement.
  • A comprehensive effort — its college recruiting team further contributes to the success of college hires by leading training, performance management, cultural engagement, and coaching on how to manage millennials.
  • A dedicated campus team — each of their 19 targeted campuses has a dedicated team with a college recruiting team leader, an executive sponsor, and a team captain.
  • Campus selection — the campuses to be targeted are selected based on a formula which includes academic rankings, alumni relationships, historic performance, majors offered, and enrollment statistics. Rosetta creates a unique campus strategy for each targeted school.
  • Assessment — its college interview process evaluates candidate skill sets and competency alignment using the same process that the firm uses in performance management.
  • Social media — Rosetta creates interactive information sessions and social media promotions via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Excellence in Retention

Many organizations don’t think about retention programs in a formal way, but more often than not they do engage in practices that drive retention. This award goes to the function that has best demonstrated its excellence in programs and practices that support employee retention as part of the recruiting function. Despite a turbulent economy, organizations should develop ways to retain talent they have invested heavily in or that provide industry-leading performance in specialized areas. When the economic recovery picks up, many organizations will find themselves fighting attrition issues and will not be prepared.

Winner — PNC Bank

PNC Bank has been on an aggressive growth curve for more than 20 years, most recently acquiring National City. In response to changing economic conditions, it repositioned its recruiters into an expanded role to help with retention and internal mobility. Some of its key accomplishments in employee retention include:

  • An expanded strategy — PNC expanded the scope of its traditional recruiting program to focus on ongoing strategic talent management, i.e. proactive redeployment. As part of that new strategy, it launched an internal campaign to educate employees about the features and capabilities of the program. It later followed up with information on their successes and how future program enhancements would benefit everyone.
  • Recruiters as internal placement specialists — because of a 20% downtrend in requisitions attributed to the economy and consolidation in the banking industry, its recruiting function developed a retention role for its recruiters. It redeployed recruiters as internal placement specialists charged with helping to redeploy surplus employees, ensuring that the firm didn’t lose good talent. It managed to successfully redeploy 501 people whose roles were being eliminated due in part to consolidation. It also managed to successfully redeploy an additional 50 people into temporary assignments. It further expanded the program at year’s end to include placement opportunities with vendors and strategic partners.
  • Results — its retention effort saved the organization approximately $9 million in severance, recruiting, and outplacement costs.

Finalist — Paychex

Nearly everyone has heard of this New York-based payroll and HR service provider with more than 100 offices throughout the U.S. To help stave off attrition and retain client serving professionals, Paychex reengineered its new-hire engagement processes to better support rising performers. Some of its key accomplishments in employee retention include:

  • Recruiter involvement in onboarding — it launched its “Stay Connected” program, which is an extended six-month onboarding program. In this program, the recruiter serves as an extension of their immediate supervisor and is charged with influencing the development of new hires. The recruiter reaches out to the new hire through calls, emails, and engaging activities at targeted points in their tenure.
  • Recruiter involvement in development — Paychex also created its “REACH Program” (Reinforcing Employees to Achieve Career Heights) to speed up the development of recent hires. The recruiter helps to encourage consistent communication between the employee and their management team by using the recruiting team to touch base at six, nine, 12, and 18 months. During the REACH calls, the developmental discussion topics that are provided in the REACH guide are reviewed and discussed.

The Most Strategic Use of Technology

Technology has become pervasive in recruiting, and progressive organizations are finding a near endless range of possibilities when it comes to applying technology to enable innovative practices. Because it can be difficult comparing the merits of one approach to another when they are focused on radically different things, this year’s judges ERE opted to highlight the practices of three organizations this year, including a winner and two finalists.

Winner — KeyBank

KeyBank, a major U.S. bank with a growing footprint, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, now has over 1,000 full-service branches and 15,000+ employees. This past year it employed technology to improve quality of hire and retention by developing a virtual job tryout for high volume client facing roles. The virtual job tryout allows candidates to learn about the organization, job role, and to experience the job through interactive scenario simulations. A majority of those who have completed the VJT indicated that based on that experience, they would gladly tell their friends about opportunities with Key Bank. As a result of this realistic job preview and assessment process, it realized a multi-million dollar cost savings in teller turnover in year one, simply by making better hiring decisions, reducing training costs, and increasing quality of hire. The bank also statistically linked performance on the VJT with critical outcomes including service delivery, referral generation, transaction efficiency, and cash drawer accuracy. (More info will be in the Journal.)

Finalist — AT&T

AT&T is a telecommunications giant headquartered in Dallas, Texas, employing nearly 300,000 employees. With a staggering array of vacancies in field roles to fill each year, this year AT&T turned its attention to supporting potential applicants who don’t sit behind a desk all day and might not have access to the Internet at home. AT&T developed an overall mobile platform recruiting strategy empowered with a series of tools to facilitate mobile recruiting efforts. This new strategy and structure allows it to create mobile web pages and SMS (text messaging) campaigns to support recruitment events. It also developed a first of its kind iPhone application that links job seekers to career opportunities, events, multimedia, and mobile opt-in programs for alerts related to job categories of choice. This iPhone application has been downloaded 29,000+ times and has consistently ranked in the Top 40 most popular free business applications on iTunes.

Finalist — Tata

You may never have heard of Tata, but chances are someday you will have a direct connection to this Mumbai, India-headquarted global conglomerate. The group has more than 357,000 employees worldwide and is ranked 13th among the ’25 Most Innovative Companies according to BusinessWeek. The Reputation Institute also recently rated Tata 11th on its list of world’s most reputable companies. Some of the key elements related to its use of technology include:

  • Real-time workforce planning — it created a robust workforce deployment and recruitment planning capability by architecting a custom workforce planning tool. This software collates the overall requirements for experienced professionals across TCS globally. The tool displays the real-time status of requirements across geographies, customers, and proficiency levels.
  • College portal — it created an Academic Interface Portal, which is a website that caters to the diverse needs of university students and professors. This portal facilitates real-world learning; it educates students about areas in which they need to develop; and it facilitates interaction between the company and faculty and students.
  • Online on-boarding — it developed an online onboarding and integration tool called “My Integration” which provides a milestone-based guide. It offers both document libraries and discussion boards. The tool also provides the capability of surveying and reporting the satisfaction levels with all talent management systems.

Advancing an organization’s capability during times of economic turmoil is a characteristic of highly successful organizations. While many believe that corporate treasure chests grow during times of economic growth, the truth is that the seeds that make such dramatic growth possible are planted when most are struggling to survive. All of the organizations highlighted via the awards should be commended for their efforts. If you have questions for those mentioned, post them here and engage the ERE community to fuel your innovation efforts.

Up next, in the final installment of this series, I’ll cover the practices of the two organizations highlighted by the Function of the Year Award.

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