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  • Bank of America Program Creates Early Talent Pipeline

    October 24, 2018 | By NACE Staff

    Special Populations

    TAGS: best practices, recruiting methods, branding and marketing, operations, diversity and inclusion, spotlight

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    Bank of America’s global insight programs offer its campus recruiting team the ability to meet and educate freshman and sophomore students from their initial interaction with the bank’s recruiting process.

    In turn, the insight programs create a strong pipeline of diverse talent into business functions across the organization and around the globe who the team nurture into interns and full-time employees.

    “Many organizations are trying to connect with top talent—particularly diverse talent—earlier,” explains Ebony Thomas, Bank of America senior vice president, global employment branding and enterprise diversity recruiting.

    “Not only is everyone looking for great talent, but they’re also looking for talent that reflects their communities as well as their organizations. The ability to engage that talent earlier is critical. It’s also important to provide learning opportunities and fill in some skill or competency gaps for these often-underserved populations.”

    The insight programs serve Bank of America by:

    • Bridging the knowledge gap for freshmen and sophomore students between the professional world and their academic studies, addressing the problem of workplace readiness.
    • Increasing its talent pool, supporting a broad diversity of students from varying backgrounds, schools, and majors to be successful in the firm’s internship programs, regardless of their prior knowledge or interaction with Bank of America or similar organizations.
    • Creating, in the long-term, successful employees by inspiring confident full-time hires who are sponsored and supported from the outset of their careers, and who have loyalty to the organization through their connections.

    Diversity is critical element of Bank of America’s campus strategy and is reflected in the insight programs.

    “Our campus programs are the entry point for early talent candidates across our businesses,” says Lizzy Schoentube, senior vice president, campus recruiting. “We look to hire the best, most diverse candidates for opportunities and these two aspects are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they go hand-in-hand.”

    The insight programs are held at Bank of America’s larger corporate locations—New York City and Charlotte—but are also conducted in the company’s smaller locations.

    The programs’ main objective is to identify high-potential students for Bank of America’s campus programs early in their career and ensure their success through each stage of the recruiting process to full-time offer, Schoentube says.

    “Secondary to conversion to hire, the program acts as an educational tool supporting students to learn more about our company, brand, roles, and opportunities available across the bank,” Schoentube adds.

    “The program also aims to expand the scope of our recruiting to students outside of our target school population.”

    For early candidates, an insight program offers a shorter and more general encounter with Bank of America’s businesses. Students can attend tailored programming and events that will help them develop new skills and learn more about Bank of America’s opportunities in advance of applying for a formal internship.

    “There’s a broad strategy that we deploy around early talent that’s attracting them to and creating awareness about Bank of America,” Thomas says.

    “Whether they decide to come work at Bank of America or not, they leave the program with knowledge about who they are, the skills they have, and the type of role, opportunity, or career they could have. It’s really about them creating an awareness about who they are.”

    At the outset, the insight program provides every student participant with a mentor.

    “We want to foster the relationship and provide students with continuous development and learning,” Thomas says. “Through the program, students can take part in mock interviews, resume-building workshops, case studies, and immersive line-of-business sessions.”

    Presentations and overviews of the bank are conducted to educate participants less familiar with the structure of a bank. To help broaden students’ perspectives, panelists from a variety of backgrounds and employee networks, representing different functions, present during “day-in-the-life” panels.

    “When we are interacting with candidates, we don't only focus on the brand,” Schoentube notes. “We work hard during every interaction to help candidates understand our roles, the projects they would be working on, and how they could be impactful on a local or global scale.”

    Participants are then encouraged to hone their business preference and begin to focus their recruiting discussions to help prepare them for success in this second stage with the goal of converting them into an intern hire for their area of interest. Standout participants build a strong network across the bank, relationships with business, and a rapport with recruiters to support them as they move through the “fast track” recruiting process.

    Bank of America measures the effectiveness of its insight programs by:

    • Assessing interest in the program by number of applicants—In 2016, more than a thousand eligible applications were received over a three-week period.
    • Program participant conversion to hire in an eligible program—The volume of program participants who are converted by offer to one of Bank of America’s formal internship programs shows a direct correlation with the programs’ ability to successfully educate and support candidates to progress in the recruiting process.
    • Positive feedback from business and participants—This feedback is collected to ensure program sponsors value the profile of talent being brought into the organization and to gain insight into the participant experience.

    Thomas reports that the insight programs have achieved success in increasing Bank of America’s pipeline of strong, diverse talent. She and Schoentube offer several tips for creating and maintaining an effective early identification program:

    • Commit to the long haul—To have a lasting impact, this cannot be a one-shot deal. Get buy-in from senior leadership and focus each year on innovating and improving the program. A main goal is to fill the pipeline for current and future years.
    • The program needs to evolve—Students, schools, and organizations are all changing. An effective early identification program must respond to these changes. Don’t stick to a template. To keep the program valuable to students and the organization, innovate, create, and leverage information and feedback to upgrade each year’s iteration.
    • Provide and reap value—When developing and adjusting the program, keep your student participants and your business top of mind. A key element of the program is to establish relationships with and begin developing future employees and leaders. Offer students valuable insight and partner with them as they navigate the career exploration and job-search processes. Help your lines of business achieve their hiring goals by bringing in top talent and preparing it for the workplace.

    “The two key things for the early student population are education and preparation,” Schoentube says. “As students are thinking about their careers, it’s helpful for them to know as much as they can early on regarding what it takes, how other people did it, what it entails, what a day in the life is like, and more. Through our insight programs, Bank of America provides that as early on as possible to better inform and prepare candidates for the opportunities that exist.”