September 27, 2021 | By Kevin Gray
TAGS: technology, best practices, operations, nace insights, talent acquisition, coronavirus
Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
Like all companies in 2020, NCR was challenged to maintain university recruitment (UR) efforts and drive success in an unexpected virtual world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of pausing its college recruiting operations, NCR shifted its focus from on-campus to on-screen engagement, while always putting the students first.
“First, our team created a 100% virtual summer internship program, while maintaining the same level of engagement and impact,” explains Tony Burdett, NCR’s university relations leader.
“Second, we focused on 2021 virtual recruitment and hiring. The UR team was able to leverage the NCR brand in Atlanta to hit record hiring numbers, building on three-plus years of partnerships with universities and students.”
Burdett says that NCR strives to develop engaging, interactive, and fun UR recruitment and hiring programs.
“2020 started out no different…until it was,” he says.
“The NCR UR team leaned into the unknown and took each day in stride during the pandemic to ensure the summer interns and fall new university hires were as connected on screen as they would be on the NCR campus.”
To do this, he says, NCR had to stay flexible by embracing both the unknown and technology. Some of the specific actions the UR team took included:
Delivering “in-person” engagement virtually—Technology differed for each campus and event. NCR wanted to build on the momentum and success from previous years’ summer internship program and UR efforts. Even though everything was virtual for the summer interns, the NCR UR team worked to maintain the same level of engagement and cross-functional connection expected by students. This included providing dedicated managers and mentors, project work, executive leadership engagement, and community impact work. For fall recruitment, the UR team wanted the same thing: maintaining the level of engagement the students expected to increase student interactions, interviews, and hiring numbers for 2021.
Building bonds through the internship program—NCR UR worked with a cross-functional team to plan a fully virtual summer internship in a month for 295 students. With the new environment, the UR team built on the success of summer internship programs from previous years and added engaging activities, such as onboarding and new intern orientation day; panels of executive leaders and previous interns; ongoing “Fun Thursdays” with games, music, and icebreakers; and the end-of-program Intern Expo, during which each student showcased their work to global leaders, managers, employees, and peers virtually. Nearly 1,400 NCR employees from 14 different countries attended the Virtual Intern Expo. At the end of the internship program, the UR team had exit interviews with every student to better understand their experience, share advice on next steps, and make offers of full-time jobs.
Maximizing virtual university recruitment—When it was clear that local campuses would not open in fall 2020, the NCR UR team had to quickly pivot its on-campus plans to match the virtual opportunities that were available. NCR prioritizes local universities in a tiered system, so even virtually, NCR UR built on partnerships, brand recognition, and previous student connections to have strong and impactful new student interactions. Additionally, the team dedicated time to learn new technologies and mapped out internal strategies for maximum on-screen, off-campus engagement. The team attended more than 40 virtual events—including career fairs, info sessions, tech talks, hackathons, and virtual workshops—with local universities. The NCR UR team interacted with more than 3,500 students, and the team and other internal stakeholders interviewed more than 1,000 students completely virtually.
“Those interviews led to more than 550 intern and full-time hire offers in 2021, meaning the NCR UR team is seeing quality candidates that meet our hiring needs,” Burdett says.
“The NCR UR program’s goals are to increase brand awareness and attract top talent to help provide NCR teams with talented, innovative interns and new hires. By staying focused on engagement, relationship building, and the creation of attractive career opportunities, the NCR brand is becoming more recognizable to the targeted talent pool of engineers, software developers, and business students. The NCR UR brand is what led to our success in fall 2020 and with our tiered-focus universities, we are able to have an impact both on campus and virtually.”
In 2021, the NCR UR team continues to strategize prior to recruitment cycle via event planning, hiring process, and engagement, Burdett points out.
“We enhanced partnerships to build stronger planning sessions with targeted university programs prior to recruitment cycle,” he says.
“We also continue to use the virtual recruitment format for interviewing without changing our current process.”
The establishment and strengthening of its virtual college recruiting allows NCR UR to be more effective with internal resources for events.
“Additionally,” Burdett says, “it allows us to attend additional universities and program events that would be more difficult in person.”
He suggests that other UR programs looking to achieve outstanding results from their virtual recruiting efforts plan ahead of their recruitment cycle to confirm events, attendees, and format.
Says Burdett: “By confirming your engagement and application process based on the event and tools, you will see better results instead of reacting to situations at the time.”
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