The coronavirus has halted in-person job fairs, but credit unions still need to hire quality talent.
Across the past year, DCU has been hosting online hiring events that bring in a higher quality of candidate but also cost more than traditional in-person fairs.
Recruiting for new talent has become a formalized science in the modern working world. Companies advertise their open positions on websites, social media, and employment-related search engines. Interested parties apply — usually online.
From there, Digital Federal Credit Union ($10.4B, Marlborough, MA) had a fairly standard process a lot of credit unions would recognize.
“We’d go through the resumes and pick those we thought were a good fit for the position,” says Jane Fontaine, senior vice president for human resources and training at the big Massachusetts cooperative. “From there, we’d make phone calls. There wasn’t a lot of face-to-face until the final rounds.”
Jane Fontaine, AVP for HR and Training, DCU
Within this model, however, DCU has experimented. For entry-level and other non-managerial positions, DCU asks candidates to answer prescribed questions via video as a kind of one-way interview. Such video submissions allow DCU to evaluate a candidate’s personality as well as gives candidates the opportunity to answer basic questions — such as “Why do you want to work for DCU?” — to make the follow-up conversation more engaging and efficient.
“Video responses offer a screening before the next step,” Fontaine says.
DCU has experimented with other methods of recruiting, too. Namely in regard to job fairs.
The Future Of Recruitment
In a traditional job fair, many recruiters and candidates meet face to face to learn more about one another. Recruiters tell candidates about their open positions, and candidates try to make a good impression. From there, each party decides whether to proceed. It’s an efficient way to assess many opportunities in a short period of time.
CU QUICK FACTS
Digital Credit Union
HQ: Marlborough, MA
Data as of 06.30.20
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 23.1%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: -4.7%
However, job fairs present challenges, too.
It takes a lot of work to stage a job fair. A company must rent adequate space, provide snacks and refreshments, coordinate the schedules of recruiters and managers, advertise, and more. All that for a response that’s not guaranteed.
“Sometimes a ton of people show up,” Fontaine says. “Other times, it’s not so many.”
Results aren’t guaranteed, either. Some job fairs attract unqualified candidates; others attract candidates that just come for the cookies.
“For the level of investment, we didn’t always see the value we wanted,” Fontaine says.
DCU was willing to experiment, and the team was quick to sign up for a two-fair contract when a vendor providing virtual job fair software approached DCU at the end of 2019. The credit union hosted its first online event before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and hosted the second after.
Using the virtual job fair technology, DCU customized a branded virtual space that prospective employees could explore. The space offered a receptionist desk where new entrants checked in for pre-scheduled interviews, conference rooms where the interviews occurred with HR representatives and department leaders, and booths where prospective employees could find more information about DCU.
“It’s like you were walking into a company headquarters,” Fontaine says.
Initially, DCU focused on the call center, a consistent area of need in which candidates should be technologically savvy enough to engage virtually. Unfortunately, attendance at the first fair did not meet DCU’s expectations. Fontaine credits the unemployment rate, which was at near-historic lows, for making it harder to hire at that time. Undeterred, the credit union hosted its second fair not long after the onset of the pandemic. Of the 85 people who registered for that event, the credit union hired 35. Fontaine attributes the success rate, in part, to the economic environment as well as the ease and convenience of a virtual event.
“We’re signing up with a few more virtual job fairs. But we think we can build something just as good in house.”
Together, the two events were unquestionably a success, says Fontaine. However, each virtual event cost the credit union thousands of dollars more than an in-person event. Plus, the virtual nature of the event contributed to people failing to show up for their scheduled interview time, what Fontaine calls “ghosting.” DCU had scheduled eight interviews per hour per person, but that number turned out to be too low.
In late October 2020, DCU ran a third virtual job fair as part of a partnership with the employment-focused search engine Indeed. For that event, more than 300 people signed up for appointments; however, ghosting was again a problem. According to Fontaine, DCU conducted interviews with 68 candidates and identified 23 with whom to move forward.
Although the credit union will aim to address ghosting at future events, it firmly believes in the virtual job fair as a concept. Whether that concept required a third-party solution to be successful is unclear.
“We’re signing up with a few more virtual job fairs,” Fontaine says. “But we think we can build something just as good in house.”
Pairing its applicant tracking system, through UltiPro, with a video conferencing solution like Zoom should approximate any rival technology at little to no additional cost to the credit union, Fontaine thinks. In the meantime, the credit union continues to look for other ways to make the hiring and recruiting process as thorough as it was before. For example, the credit union commonly offered candidates tours of its main buildings during the pre-pandemic hiring process. Now, DCU’s HR department has created a virtual tour to re-create that experience.
When it comes to virtual job fairs, Fontaine considers them a way to move quickly and efficiently through pre-screened candidates. Plus, they allow both sides — DCU employees as well as job candidates — to schedule interviews during lunch, breaks, or any other convenient time. That’s why the credit union plans to test more virtual job fair technologies while working on its own solutions in the coming months. The provider might change, but the product won’t.
“Is this the way of the future?” Fontaine asks. “I certainly think so.”
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