Plenty has been written about top ‘feeder schools’ or target schools that define the graduate recruiting strategy for some of the world’s most coveted and recognized workplaces. I think it’s a flawed approach. It’s limiting and great talent gets systematically overlooked. Some of the most creative and dedicated minds in the country aren’t studying at those specific schools, and therefore, don’t get exposure to the same opportunities. Fortunately, there are companies making bold moves to change this for example Penguin Random House, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
One organization changing the game and expanding opportunities for future leaders is the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. TMCF is dedicated to transforming the lives of students at Historically Black Colleges & Universities and they’re making bold moves in how they identifying future leaders and connecting them with top companies across the country.
Each year, TMCF’s Talent Acquisition team identifies and prepares an average of 1,800 students across 47 member-school campuses around the country for success in the workplace. Of those 1,800, approximately 400 students get selected and invited to attend the Leadership Institute Conference which includes a series of individual interviews. It’s an intense challenge for the TMCF talent acquisition team charged with giving all 400 students a fair shot; using the interviews to connect students with top companies that will be an ideal skill and culture fit for both sides. I find it inspiring to see young people full of creativity, motivation and raw talent getting access to opportunities they wouldn’t have had without the kind of work TMCF is doing. Last year, TMCF raised the game even further, implementing a better way to connect students to top employers by moving from a traditional resume based process to a digital one. I sat down with Scott Lilly, VP of Programs at TMCF and President of TMCF’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Division to discuss their new approach to identifying and coaching students for its signature Leadership Institute program.
Mark Newman: You’ve moved from traditional resumes to a digital approach when it comes to identifying the best students for your Leadership Institute. Why did you make the change, and what have the results been?
Scott Lilly: With digital, we set out to dispel the myth that the only way to get a great job is with a resume. Using HireVue our team can visually see and hear every student’s story. We can finally go deeper than words on a page, seeing the unique strengths, passion, creativity and personality traits we can build upon to help cultivate future leaders.
Mark Newman: What are the biggest benefits your recruiting team gets from this approach?
Scott Lilly: First and foremost, we’re getting a better quality ‘picture’ of who the student really is – it’s tough to articulate the value of that – it’s immeasurable when you put that into the context of making a great cultural fit. In terms of the benefits we can measure, there are some very tangible ones:
- Efficiency – our recruiters are more focused on campus, spending the majority of their time with the candidates who have the highest potential. We’ve seen a 76% increase in the number of interviews at the conference – speeding our ability to place close to 250 students into internship and full time positions.
- Consistency – all our applicants are reviewed using the same process, including the same questions, sequence, response time and scoring approach.
- Fairness – all our applicants are assessed using the same process.
- Convenience – our recruiters can review applicants at any time.
Mark Newman: TMCF also places an emphasis on coaching students to prepare for interviews and other potential employment interactions with top employers. How has technology played a role in this process?
Scott Lilly: Our mission is not only to place students with employers but to help students realize their full potential. To reach this potential, students need feedback and coaching. With HireVue’s Accelerate Platform we can provide nearly instant feedback once a student conducts a video interview. Prior to attending the conference, each student receives a series of professional development assignments, one of which is a mock interview. It gives them real world exposure and an invaluable experience prior to a formal interview. Once completed, each recruiter reviews and provides feedback. In 2015, the team had to do this via email. With Accelerate recruiters review, provide feedback, and communicate back to the student with one click. The sheer volume, combines with a compressed timeline makes efficiency critical. We’re excited about using technology to move faster.
Mark Newman: Which organizations are benefiting from the more diverse talent pool you are connecting them too?
Scott Lilly: We work with many smart Fortune 500 employers and government partners but to name a few, we work with Apple, Walmart, BoozAllen Hamilton, CIA, John Deere, Hershey, Altria, MillerCoors, United States Department of Agriculture, and Department of Defense.
Mark Newman: What has been the reaction from employers who have hired graduates from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Program?
Scott Lilly: Employers realize TMCF approaches talent selection with the same rigor and precision as their own internal college and university recruiting teams. As such, employers consider us an expansion of their own college recruiting efforts because they don’t have the human resources to touch as many campuses as we can in one year. More importantly, our robust screening and development process gets employers excited about the future. They repeatedly comment about the true diversity of thought, creativity and perspective our future leaders bring to the workplace because they come from America’s Black Colleges and Universities. The difference technology is making for both TMCF staff and students excites me – and it should excite you too. TMCF is real time proof that there is an efficient and effective way to identify, hire and coach the future leaders that will bring diversity into organizations. By using technology to break down the bias inherent in old school processes, they are raising the bar for organizations that rely on diversity of thought, creativity and culture to spark innovation.
In 2016, this is the kind of ‘feeder’ mentality smart organizations should be interested in. In fact, a recent McKinsey survey suggests that diversity improves the bottom line. Companies in the top quartile for executive diversity, enjoy 53% higher returns on equity than their non-diverse counterparts in the bottom quartile. With 44% of millennials and 50% of all newborns considered non-white, the importance of diversity in leadership will only increase. Organizations restricting their talent sources and relying on resumes and annual development processes to identify, hire and train the best talent are missing out on the very talent they will need to survive in the future.
To date, TMCF has awarded more than $250 million in assistance to its students and member-schools. TMCF also serves as a voice for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and as a resource for nearly 300,000 students enrolled in the HBCU network of schools.