The Josh Bersin Company discusses the findings and implications for Alumni networks in their new report on recruitment.
Organizations' talent acquisition efforts are being put under immense pressure due to record quit rates. They're not only competing against direct industry counterparts: they’re also up against an unknown number of companies hiring for translatable skills that transcend industry lines.
Our CEO Emma Sinclair MBE was joined by The Josh Bersin Company, who discussed the findings and implications for Alumni networks in their new report, The Definitive Guide to Recruiting: Human-Centered Talent Acquisition. We were also joined by BlackRock to hear about the benefits of their network for expanding their employer brand, bolstering their talent pools and generating business development prospects.
Thank you to our guest speakers:
Janet Mertens, Senior Vice President of Research, The Josh Bersin Company
Jordan Schmitting, Senior Research Analyst, The Josh Bersin Company
Jillian Caffrey, Global Head of Alumni Relations, BlackRock
Not everyone is getting things right …
“Only a quarter of companies are getting things right, which means 75% are struggling. Companies who find talent through boomerangs or alumni are five times more likely to delight their customers and twice as likely to exceed financial targets …”
Alumni networks should be open to everybody …
“We make sure our potential talent is aware of the alumni network. Even if they only spend a few years at BlackRock, they will be part of the community for life. You spend so much of your time at work, this is a way to say: thank you for making the firm what it is today ...”
People leave jobs for all sorts of reasons …
“The more I’ve chatted with alums, the more I’ve realised the number of people who left due to personal impacts of Covid. People were taking care of elderly parents and relatives as well as children. Now it’s even more important that everyone feels included ...”
Personalisation is important …
“Organisations have gotten good at thinking about their in-house employees and designing great experiences. That personalisation, continuous engagement and employee experience applies when we think about alumni networks ...”
Alumni are crucial to referring talent …
“Your alumni know your culture. They understand what you’re doing and the changes within the organisation, so they're more likely to refer talent. We make sure our potential talent is aware of the alumni network …”
Top 4 Emma quotes
Emma Sinclair: What is going on in the market today?
Janet Mertens: We are seeing conflicting signals. Hiring volumes are going up and down. Entire industries are grappling with layoffs whilst others are in growth mode. We talk to companies who are thriving with talent acquisition and development. Only a quarter of companies are getting things right. 75% are struggling. Among the challenges is labour shortage. Trying to find new talent in old ways is no longer working. Companies who find talent through boomerang or alumni are five times more likely to delight their customers and twice as likely to exceed financial targets.
Emma Sinclair: I remember, in 2015, hearing how there was no talent shortage. Eight years later, with a real shortage, people are finally recognising there are untapped pools of people. We talk about maintaining and maximizing relationships with people who matter to your business. People are always going to leave. They might move to another career opportunity, or leave to have a family. Maintaining lifecycle relationships makes sense. My grandparents had one job their whole life. My parents had a few jobs. When they grow up, I expect my children will have many jobs, all at the same time. It makes no sense to dispose of people. A company spends so money time and energy upskilling, sourcing, retaining, it doesn’t make sense to say: “Thanks, bye” on the day of departure.
Janet: One of the findings from our research has been rethinking the social contract between employer and employee. Employees and job seekers are looking for a renewed employee value proposition. Organisations have gotten good at thinking about their in-house employees and designing great experiences. But what about those employees who have left? That personalisation, continuous engagement and employee experience still applies when we think about alumni networks.
Emma: I have made friends, I’ve been to weddings, I've got a goddaughter as a result of the alumni network from my first job at international bank, Rothschild & Co. We all have different relationships with our day jobs. After over 20 years, I am still reaping the benefits. I feel a warmth towards that company because they stay in touch, so there’s that warm and fuzzy. I know you can't ROI warm and fuzzy and it’s not a basis for buying software, but it's a reality.
Jordan: Can you tell us more about the decision to launch an alumni platform at BlackRock?
Jillian: My boss and one of our vice-chairmen, Rob Fairbairn, and I are passionate about the employee and alumni experience. Our alumni network is mentioned on the BlackRock career site, so even if you’re just a candidate, you can see there's an alumni network. Long after you have left the organisation, there are still benefits. It was clear starting up the alumni network that you needed a full-time headcount and the technology to drive the platform. We knew many of our clients were alums, and many potential alums can be future clients. As Rob Fairbairn, likes to say: your alumni know your culture. It's the one thing they miss about the organisation. This is key in referring talent. Even if the alum does not want to come back, they understand what we're doing and the changes within the organisation, so they're more likely to refer talent. We make sure potential talent is aware of the alumni network. Even if they only spend a few years at BlackRock, they will be part of the community for life. You spend so much of your time at work, this is a way to say: thank you for making the firm what it is today.
Jordan: BlackRock’s alumni is over 5,000 – a quarter of your entire workforce. Can you share about BlackRock's commitment to inclusivity?
Jillian: This is something I'm extremely proud of. We want to make sure everyone feels part of the community, regardless of the type of employee they were, or the circumstances in which they left. There are no restrictions. If your interns did not come back to your organisation, that does not mean that in five, 10 years, they cannot return at more senior levels. Even a three-month internship can get you antiquated with the culture of the firm. They are a great talent pool to look at.
Emma: People ask: who should be in the alumni network? People who have been here five years or someone that's been here a couple of weeks? It should be everybody. There are no secrets in an alumni network. Inclusivity is something we’re seeing more and more of. It's rare we hear anyone say: you can’t come in.
Jillian: The more I’ve chatted with alums, the more I’ve realised the number of people who have left due to personal reasons as an impact of Covid. People were taking care of elderly parents and relatives as well as children. Prior to Covid, people would look at a specific tenure or the reason for leaving and be restrictive. Now it’s even more important that everyone feels included.
Jordan: BlackRock’s has nearly 100% of its members actively engaged in your alumni platform. Can you tell us more about that decision to use an opt-in process?
Jillian: We wanted make sure that we have the most up-to-date information as possible. They want be a part of the network. It takes about three minutes to complete a two-page questionnaire.
Jordan: What are some of ways BlackRock is communicating to your current employees so they opt in when they leave?
Jillian: We do not include current employees within the network. I'm not completely opposed, but a lot of the content shared with the alumni network is repurposed content, communicated to our employees through other channels. We actively involve our employees with all our promotions. I lean heavily on our current employees to promote the network, through socials and events, to ensure they feel the engagement and the connection with the alumni of the BlackRock community. Every in-person event will have up to a 50/50 split of employees/alums. The employees take advantage of whatever content is being shared, whilst helping to share details of what is happening within the organisation.
Emma: How are you mentioning your alumni program during your onboarding of new hires?
Jillian: LinkedIn has really helped. Last year, we had over 450 boomerangs globally, and 75 re-joined last year.
Emma: Do you have any tips for your events?
Jillian: We try to estimate the number of employees and alumni who will attend. For virtual events, 30 minutes is the sweet spot. Anything more, you lose engagement. A lot of commercial opportunities come out of the in-person events. All in-person events have that opportunity for networking.
Are there benefits beyond events for alums?
Jillian: I have created BlackRock alumni Yeti mugs, which are fun!Watch recording