Guest Post: Sodexo’s @Arie_Ball: Hiring college grads, building a future #truDublin

I found an old Irish proverb that says, “The future is not set, there is no fate but what we make for ourselves.” I think this proverb is especially poignant when we project it on college recruiting.

At Sodexo, college recruiting is a way to recruit top talent for the leadership of our company, now and into the future. This philosophy is embraced at all levels, from our CEO and his executive team to our field operators.

But, our efforts are not just about attending recruitment events, nor are they just about our hiring needs for today. We work to actively engage college students throughout their college years and build relationships with them for today and tomorrow. From Sodexo Careers blog posts to mentoring programs, we work with students to help guide them towards their careers and teach them job search strategies and techniques. We also aim to introduce them to all of the different career options within Sodexo.

If you do not sow in the spring, you will not reap in the autumn.

One of our premier offerings for college students is our Future Leaders internship program, which features individually tailored professional development and mentoring opportunities, providing a foundation for their future success.

We start by training our hiring managers on how to create a meaningful work experience for interns. Then, we ensure that each intern is matched with a mentor to help navigate our company and provide additional technical/professional expertise. We provide professional development webinars on career planning, ethics in the workplace and the use of social networking to enhance communication.

At the conclusion of the internship, we find that more than 95 percent of interns would like to work for Sodexo and more than 40 percent who are eligible for hire are offered a position after passing their criminal background check from https://www.sterlingcheck.co.uk/. Additionally, select students who complete the internship are invited to participate in our Student Ambassador program, which aims to build Sodexo’s employment brand on campus with faculty, staff, students and alumni.

You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.

We also realize that students sometimes need to find their own way. So, we start early, working with high school students. Through our relationships with top student organizations in our industry, like ProStart and BCA, we provide mentoring, career search help and make site visits. At the college level, we work with the National Society for Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH) where we not only attend career fairs but have a strong presence throughout the year. We also serve on industry panels at the NSMH national conference where we connect with students and invite them for on-site interviews.

Attending conferences is great. But, our main focus is in building relationships with these students using the communication tools that they prefer – social media. From the dedicated college recruitment page on our Career Center web site, students have access to numerous sites including our Sodexo Careers blog, a Facebook page, several LinkedIn groups, a YouTube channel and our Twitter handle, just to name a few. We also embrace unique opportunities within these media, such as creating Facebook event pages, i.e. Sodexo’s NSMH conference page. Even if we don’t have a position for them now by maintaining connections through our talent communities we may just have the perfect position for them as they gain experience and progress with their career.

Communicating on their terms is key to reaching college students. For example, earlier this year we embarked on a mobile text message campaign to reach students attending the NSMH national conference. Students who subscribed to our “text to win” campaign submitted information that captured in our candidate database. From there, we interacted with these students throughout the conference and used their information to generate leads for various job openings. The interaction with the students was phenomenal, but it wasn’t all about us. The students who participated were entered into a drawing for a $300 Apple store gift card.

At the core of all our student outreach activities lies our goal to not only brand Sodexo as a top employer with the next generation of leaders, but to help shape career choices while students are still in high school .. For example, we contribute a bi-weekly post to Dan Shawbel’s Student Branding Blog, a Top 50 Counseling Blog with 14,000 readers per month and we’re cited multiple times in two ProStart textbooks used by 84,000 highschool students. If we are not preparing today for the talent we need tomorrow, our companies will not maintain their competitive position in the market.

Distant hills look green.

College recruitment may only be one element that contributes toward Sodexo’s future, but it is one that we believe plays a critical role in the development of our future leadership. We work to not only identify top talent, but to help prepare that talent to ensure quality hires upon graduation. Once hired, we continue to develop that talent, guiding them toward the future.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, May the luck of the Irish be there with you. I look forward to meeting you at #truDublin!

Don’t miss the opportunity to meet with Arie at #truDublin next week. You can buy the last few tickets HERE

Guest post: Students and Social Media #truAmsterdam

I am writing this guest post following the research I have done for my track at April’s #truAmsterdam – Students and Social Media: The #Tru Story. Why did I choose this track? Being very lucky to be part of the #trugrad mentoring scheme, and like this discovering the amazing help of social media when job hunting, I asked myself: how about my fellow students? Is there anyone teaching them how to use social media to advertise themselves?

It was easy to guess the answer but I thought it would be better to prove it. So I used the Survey application to create a 9-question survey on Facebook, and I sent messages to probably 500 of my friends asking them to do it, and inviting them to join the Student Social Media Group. I created this group in order to gather students from different universities and countries, and between us to be able to share or gain social media knowledge. A few of my friends shared the survey on their walls, like this making it accessible to approximately 3000 students. I was very optimistic at the beginning because I targeted 200 students in a week time. Unfortunately, after 6 days only 2% of those who could have accessed the survey actually did it. I then saw myself in the situation when I had to go around my university and ask other students to do the survey by hand. This can only show one thing, and this is that students use Facebook strictly for communication purposes (post photos, comments, send messages).

After gathering the results of my survey, I considered that the best way to make them public was using prezi – it’s great!

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I must admit that my research has got certain limitations, such as time and the fact that 75% of the students were from the same university. I will definitely expand this research in preparation for my track at #truDublin and I will target a much bigger number of students from the top as well as the average universities.

Even if I am aware that I still have to do a lot of research regarding this subject, I strongly believe that when it comes to graduate recruitment there is a certain gap somewhere, or shortage. I am making this statement after having noticed that big companies mostly look for graduates at top universities, even if those are the students who tend to have the least working experience when finishing their degree. On the other hand, students at average universities seem to focus on applying to the best companies, they spend on average 3 to 5 days submitting online applications, and end up receiving an email saying that they were unsuccessful on that occasion. In some way they forget that there are also small and medium enterprises where they can receive good training and furthermore, receive more responsibilities. Having said this, there are many good, capable students at average universities, but it is unfortunate that they don’t know how to advertise themselves, in other words they don’t know how to use social media to their advantage.


#truAmsterdam thinking: Student Recruiting, Gaming And Empire Avenue

Listening to #truGrad Ruxandra Fratescu’s excelent track on how students are using social-media, and how they communicate, 3 points really stood out from her research and questionnaire.

OK,only 100 students completed it and they were all from the same University, but I’m sure that once this has been expanded to a wider circle the results will be very similar.

The 3 stand-out points are:

1: The vast most students have no idea how to connect with potential future employers in social-media.

2: Over 70% of the students asked use Facebook primarily for gaming, the largest proportion spending 3 – 5 hours per week on Facebook.

3: Students with a twitter account rarely tweet more than once a week even when looking for a job in their final year.

You will be able to download the results from Ruxandra’s research on this blog later this week, and will be able to take part in the track at #truDublin. I recommend you do, if you have any interest in student recruitment.

The really interesting thing for me is the gaming element. This led to a bit of a secret track, and several side conversations on just how recruiters can link gaming in to recruiting.

I thought it was interesting to note how many times Empire Avenue was mentioned during #truAmsterdam. Most people are trying to work out just what purpose it has, and if there really is any value in it.

My view is that it is really based on measuring what is controversially termed influence. (I prefer the term impact.) Members (players) are traded at a share price based on activity across social-media channels including twitter, Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn and YouTube, reach and mentions/likes from others.

This is essentially the same as applications like Klout or PeerIndex, although Empire Avenue goes further.

Values also go up according to how much of your stock is bought and sold. Like other “games” you earn badges for achievements, can create your own communities,  invite others to join the network. There’s chat options,leader boards, trending reports, a ticker tape to show the share price of your buys and personal messaging to other members.

It is sophisticated fun, and the membership is growing rapidly both on the website and the Facebook app.

Serious players (the addicted), are spending plenty of  time studying member profiles and scores of  players in order to identify the best people to invest in. It really is about forecasting who will be ranked as influential in the social channels and investing in them early, as well as engaging regularly within Empire avenue itself. The more you do, and the wiser you invest, the better you perform.

The gaming element hooks people in and interestingly, although its based on the same thing, it’s not attracting the same negative comments and posts as Klout. (I was even encouraged to join by one of the Klout detractors!). Call it a game and everyone wants to play, call it a serious ranking of influence and you get the opposite effect.

I’ve never really understood why people play Mafia Wars on Facebook but according to appdata.com, there are currently 23,492,409 players, with around 5.5 million playing daily (source: Answers.Com.). Now that I’m getting hooked in to Empire Avenue, I’m beginning to understand why.

I have combined these discussion topics because I can see the potential offered by combining gaming, Facebook and recruiting graduates. Combining a game element to attract students  with extra communication features through chat and mentions, private messaging and group forums with a theme that will appeal to the target student market, and Facebook is the place to build and house it.

This video, shot by Keith Robinson at #truAmsterdam, expands on some of the points covered by Ruxandra.

What do you do to attract graduates?


Ruxandra Fratescu on LinkedIn

Buy Tickets For #TruDublin

Take A Look At  Empire Avenue

SOCIAL MEDIA: A compulsory subject for all university degrees?

Hi, I’m Ruxandra, one of the #trugrads. Bill is climbing mountains in sunny Wales this week so he invited me to write this guest blog on his behalf. This is the topic I will talk through at #Tru Amsterdam.

SOCIAL MEDIA: A compulsory subject for all university degrees?

Definitely!!! I would like to start this post by picturing the usual process of a third year student searching for the job he wants upon graduation. Alex, a very good third year Law and Business student at an average UK university wants to work in Recruitment. What is he going to do? He will follow the usual process like any other third year student. Alex will seek advice for writing his CV at the career office in his university, spend long hours filling in application forms for the top 20 UK recruitment companies, he will get positive feedback from 7 or 8 of them and the final result? In the end he won’t get any job offer, or he might get one, but not the one he wanted. What are the possible reasons for this? There are a few reasons like: fierce competition as graduate recruiters prefer candidates from top universities, applying for the wrong recruitment sector, he might not have matched the needs of the company at that time, lack of experience, and I could give many other examples.

Did Alex make use of social media in any way in his job hunt? LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter? He might have a profile on each of them fair enough, but does he actually know how to use them to get the job he wants? Or get noticed? Not really!

How can social media help a third year student in his job search?

First of all, social media represents the best way for students to advertise themselves and catch the attention of employers. An updated LinkedIn profile with an appropriate professional headline, accompanied by group posts, related tweets, and interesting blog topics will make an employer browse through that student’s profile, download his CV and eventually give him a call. Let’s not forget that nowadays recruiters, especially internal recruiters, use social media in a big way.

There seems to be something wrong about this entire student-graduate scheme as at the moment, students tend to apply for jobs only to well-known companies but the majority of these companies look for graduates only at top universities. I would raise two questions out of this sentence:

Are students unaware that SME’s offer jobs too?

Are companies unaware that skilled graduates can also be found in top 100 (or even 200) universities rather than top 10?

There is definitely a gap somewhere and I strongly believe that it can only be filled if students start using social media more. I would now like to give a few relevant examples.

My best friend from Romania who wants to work in social media kept applying for jobs and internships at well-known companies for the past two years. She did not have any luck, and was very disappointed. I advised her to start looking for jobs on Facebook (most popular in Romania). One month after she started her job hunt on Facebook, she is working for a medium-size estate agency providing exclusivist services. She is of course in charge of their social media, and really enjoys it.
On the other hand, a few weeks ago I refused a job due to its location. At the end, the interviewer kindly asked me if I knew someone else who could be interested in the position. In this case, how can students say that they cannot find jobs? Do they actually know where to look for them?

My last argument would be that social media can help students better define what they want from their future job. Through social media students can get in touch with experienced people who can give them valuable advice about the career they want to have. In the last weeks, after I posted in groups on LinkedIn and started to write on my blog, many nice people approached me offering their help and advice. The conversations I had with them helped me understand Recruitment better, decide what sectors I would like to work in, what type of recruitment I want to do as well as the type of company I want to work in.

Having said this, what is the best way to make students aware of the benefits of social media and teach them how to use it? Should social media be a compulsory subject in universities?

My #trulondon thinking and the #trugrad program

Wow! #trulondon is now over, at least the in person part. The last curry has been eaten, pint drunk, Meet me-me card exchanged (thanks PinstripeTalent) and conversation had.I have quite a few posts lined up on my learning points, but the one I want to start with governs graduates and graduate recruiting.
Before #trulondon, I got a bit fed up of hearing and reading about graduate recruitment frompeople who had long since seen a university or college. I wanted to hear first hand about graduate recruitment and any issues with the process. to address this I invited a group of students from less fashionable Middlesex University led by their employability mentor @WendyJacob.
What struck me was the harsh realities about being a final year student outside of the elite academic establishments.
The majority of universities do not qualify as elite, hence the vast majority of students do not fit in to this category.
From those who took part I had the following thoughts and ideas I to share with you:

1:The graduate recruitment programs are currently not fit for purpose.The application process is time-consuming taking up to 5 days to complete.This is during a critical year for students when study time is understandably at a premium. Why recruit in the final year? If companies hired in the first or second year of study there would be quite a few benefits:

1: The students have more time to complete the application process and expand their number of applications.
2: By hiring earlier in the academic process, succesful students can gear their options and projects around the business they will be joining.Once appointed, vacations can be spent on internships with the hiring company. Can anyone think of a better way to align study with preparing for work? The offer can be subject to examination, giving added motivation to study in the final year.

3: The hiring company can provide a mentor to work with the successful candidate providing support, advice and motivation during their study years.

4: In terms of employer branding opportunities for companies seen to be support students during their studys, a great opportunity for less fashionable brands or S.M.E.’s.

Another point that came across loud and clear from the panel of students is that relocation is not always an option. Many students are not born with a silver-spoon in their mouths.They balance study with work, sometimes raising children or supporting parents, some live at home and can not afford the luxury of relocation. Imagine the pay-back,commitment and brand advocacy you could get by supporting and employing someone with this levelof commitment and motivation to bettering themselves. There is a wealth of untapped potential in the less fashionable universities. I’m sure the best talent at these establishments stand up well against what is available from the more recognised universities. There is less competition for the top students. In my opinion all employers should look to their local universities for a percentage of there minimum intake,and forge closer links to smooth the process, getting to know students outside of the recruitment process.

At the end of the track Peter Gold of Hire Strategies suggested that those present should mentor one student through the job seeking process, what he asked for in return is that the students share their lessons through social-media in order to help others.

I’m proud to say that this was well supported, and was a really positive outcome from the track. We are now seeking more help in spreading this through the #trulondon community:

What we are looking for:

1: A company either willing to sponsor a #truGrads website so that we can build a great resource for student jobseekers, and a central place to maintain the students learning blogs for others to use. (the alternative is a company that can build and host it for us.)

2:More mentors willing to take on one student through the scheme. We need a real-time commitment rather than words.

3: Ideas on how we can grow the program.

4: Venues for hosting workshops and training days.

If you think you can help with any of this please contact me bill@billboorman.co.uk, or leave your own thoughts in comments.

What do you think?Is it all talk or can we make this happen?