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Early talent trends, Employer spotlights, Improving employer brand

Access recap: 7 tips to maximize ROI on your early talent strategy

If you think requiring previous work experience is the best hiring strategy, think again. Discover why David Jordan and Chris DeLisa from TD SYNNEX say that building a pipeline of early talent has changed their hiring game.

  • Save up to 50% by hiring early talent instead of candidates with 3-5 years of experience.
  • Virtual strategies have changed the recruiting game—and what your company might be missing out on.
  • Get a better ROI by investing in and upskilling recent graduates.

Conventional hiring wisdom suggests that if you want maximum productivity from new hires, you should require previous work experience. Right?

Not so fast. This strategy may be costing your business and hurting your bottom line. In a recent Access 2023 chat, David Jordan, CFO of Americas, TD SYNNEX, and Chris DeLisa, Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition, TD SYNNEX, explore the financial benefits of investing in recent graduates, proving the ROI, and building bridges between TA leadership and CFOs to create a powerful alliance that will help you advocate for—and prove the value of—your early talent program. Read on for their 7 tips for maximizing early talent ROI.

1. Invest in early talent, full stop.

When asked why he cares about campus recruiting, David says, “It’s very simple: we’ll win or lose strategically as a business based on the talent we hire. If you hire people at the right baseline, you can develop them into whoever you want them to become. It’s a competitive advantage, so we spend the time and money to get people there. The byproduct of this is good returns for shareholders.”

New grads at TD SYNNEX spend the first few years increasing their technical domain knowledge. David explains, “Once their acumen is robust, we ask: ‘How do we teach them leadership skills?’ If we start with them from the beginning, they learn every aspect of how to succeed in our company’s way. This is hugely valuable because all the institutional knowledge they're gaining—solving real-world problems in our business every single day—is something we can’t buy.”

Early talent engagement also happens year-round at TD SYNNEX. Where most conventional companies have an internship program that brings students in, provides a great experience, and converts them to full-time employees, Chris says his company goes further. “We also have a tech scholar program focused in the technology space and a Discovery Representation Program in sales and marketing. We always talk about ‘hire to retire.’ If we can get students engaged early in their careers and offer them progression, it allows us to retain those coworkers and help them become the future leaders of our organization.”

2. Yes, ROI matters in this macroeconomic climate, but consider your metrics when tying early talent into macro business goals.

At TD SYNNEX, David gives recruiting teams a total budget, and the team then demonstrates what they’re planning to accomplish with that money. The overall metric becomes: What is the cost of hiring?

“I couldn’t care less about how much they spend because we’re aligned on driving down the cost of hiring good talent,” David shares. “So, we ultimately measure 3 things: quality of our talent, conversation rates, and the actual cost per hire. Then it’s just a matter of figuring out how to work the variables in that model to maximize all three of those things.”

Using platforms like Handshake is cheaper than campus recruiting, but when comparing the two methods, it gets down to demonstrating which is more effective in the context of the cost.

“And you also have to consider the cost of turnover,” Chris explains. “If you can retain people for longer periods, your turnover and costs go down. The more people stay longer, the less I need to spend on advertising. Knowing that retention becomes a very big piece. If you hire someone with three years of experience and they leave right away, that’s no good. Now imagine hiring someone with no experience, and they stay three years or even longer. It pays off in the long run. By keeping early talent engaged, learning, and growing, you’ll get more opportunities to grow their careers, which is a long-term benefit for the company.”

3. Have senior leadership work with recruiting teams to lower the cost of hiring

“When I first joined TD SYNNEX, I always felt we were underutilizing campus recruiting,” David says. When Chris joined TD SYNNEX to lead talent acquisition, David immediately broke the ice with him by asking Chris to coach him on how best to help the recruiting team. This resulted in a relationship where they don’t butt heads because they have the same goal.

“Chris runs the machine, and I help move obstacles,” David says. “We check in about once a year on numbers. I want to see the cost of team travel, payroll, and campus recruiting because that is what we spend to acquire. We put discovery reps and interns in a separate bucket because that comes after we've acquired the talent. Either way, early talent acquisition should be part of any business budget, and you should proactively create capacity. The last thing we will ever cut is early talent hiring because that could kill us two years from now. And I'm not willing to take that move.”

Chris agrees. “When I joined a year and a half ago, part of my onboarding was to meet different executives throughout the organization. When I saw David’s name on the agenda—he was the executive sponsor for our internship/early career programs—I had to take a second look. But it was a breath of fresh air to sit down with him. Within five minutes, we were able to talk about why it’s so important to have a structured program to bring in early career talent, given that it proves twofold or threefold on the ROI as you develop these individuals and help them grow in the company. Knowing executive leadership is on the same page makes it very easy for our teams to work together.”

4. Save 50% in costs by hiring new talent vs. candidates with 3-5 years of experience

“When you think about campus recruiting, your biggest competitor is an agency,” David says. “They'll recruit off of a college campus, and they’ll recruit people with experience. Two dynamics then play out. One is that they want to charge 20%. Some try to get to 30%. If they’re really good at negotiating, they can maybe get 12%. But let's be honest: it's a markup. Then they negotiate you up on the salary.”

When David realized that he could save TD SYNNEX $0.50 - $0.70 on the dollar by moving away from agencies and into campus recruiting, it naturally put a tailwind—from a budget perspective—into talent acquisition.

“When you think about hiring somebody with no experience versus hiring somebody with 3-5 years of experience, they're half price, full stop,” he explains. “The salary expectations I’m seeing from people with experience are blowing my mind. It’s probably greater than 50% more than you’d pay by hiring off a college campus. Conceptually, the 3-5 year candidate has learned something beyond their academic career but still needs to learn my strategy. They still need to learn my processes. And not all of them work out. We know that people who jump every 2-3 years tend to jump again, so we end up with a higher cost per head, with a higher likely attrition rate.”

To combat attrition, TD SYNNEX has developed their Discovery Representation Program and Tech Scholar Program, which allow early talent to rotate between functions part-time while they’re still in school. Not only has this resulted in full-time hires, but it has also lowered the likelihood of attrition.

“It's not like your standard summer internship—it’s really about learning multiple sides of the business while still in school.” Chris says. “It all pays off in conversion, where you get someone who has zero years of experience out of college, but they might have 12 months of part-time experience with us. It elevates their career from Day 1.”

5. Leverage technology to measure and maintain healthy workforce pipeline

Technology now plays a big role in the recruiting process, and investing in the right platforms is critical to measuring success. Data always tells a story, and if you can lean into it, it can help inform your business choices.

“With Handshake, we’ve reached many, many universities that we wouldn't otherwise be able to reach based on our team size and the cost of flying from place to place,” Chris says. “So, that’s key—looking through the platform along with our ATS, clicks, applications, and interview-to-hire ratio. Those things are really important to us, because they tell us how our pipeline is looking.”

And gone are the days of “hiring seasons” for TD SYNNEX. These days, Chris believes in recruiting year round. As he puts it, “There's talent looking all the time—it's not just a seasonal hiring event. Our approach is different because we know the value of finding good talent. You never know where you're going to bump into somebody.”

6. Leverage virtual strategies vs. spending more on-campus travel

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual world has become the norm. As such, TD SYNNEX takes a hybrid approach.

“We definitely like to spend time on campus if we can, but considering 100% reach is impossible to get to, virtual platforms are key, as is engagement,” Chris explains. “We try to interact with students through different platforms on a daily basis while also partnering with universities to understand what virtual events they have. At the end of the day, the more you're out there, the more brand awareness you have. It's about creating a positive experience—whether in-person or virtual—that students can relate to and think, ‘Wow, I want to work for that organization based on what I've heard!’”

As David adds, “It’s very similar to the future of work, where there's a physical component and a virtual component. When we're together, we go deep! We have target schools where our business partners are, but digitally, we can aim wide in a very targeted fashion.”

Both Chris and David agree that building out a digital brand presence—and its effectiveness—is critical. “If you’re just starting out on digital platforms like Handshake, know that it takes time,” David says. “But if you engage with your platform reps, ask a lot of questions, and follow the provided roadmap, it will work. For example, our goal right now is diverse recruiting. With Handshake, we can touch a very targeted set of schools and a targeted set of students within those schools. You can't do that physically. So, going digital has been game-changing in that aspect.”

7. Evaluate which schools you recruit from physically vs. virtually

“We typically start recruiting where we have a major office—looking in your own backyard is important!” Christ says. “Then there are the schools you want to build partnerships with because students there will know who you are, and you’ll have some brand awareness.”

For TD SYNNEX, finding the right culture fit with students and universities is important, as is seeing how students respond when recruiters talk about their company culture. Both Chris and David agree that if a student doesn't have the same cultural values, it can dictate how long they’re going to stay with a company. Furthermore, in the virtual realm, it’s easy to look at schools with strong programs that align with your business.

“The benefit of virtual platforms is that the data shows you where to hunt,” David says. “I can't tell you what our number-one virtually targeted school is, but I can tell you how many candidates we’re going after, what affinity groups we’re focusing on, and when we want to hire those people. Where we end up focusing is where we’ll have the best chance of success—that’s the benefit of going virtual. You can go everywhere at the exact same time if you get it right!

Get more Access

The ROI on hiring early talent can be huge, and companies like Handshake can give you a leg up by providing the data you need to make the most informed recruiting decisions. To watch the full recording of our conversation with David and Chris—or to explore more content from Access 2023—check out the event page.

Visit more Access recaps:

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‘Think again’ about early talent with New York Times bestselling author, organizational psychologist, and speaker, Adam Grant, and Handshake Chief Education Strategy Officer, Christine Y. Cruzvergara

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Creating a future where we can Thrive with Thrive CEO, Arianna Huffington, and Handshake Chief Legal Officer, Valerie Capers Workman

10 tips to attract and develop in-demand tech talent with NSA CHRO Teisha Anthony, Activision Blizzard Chief Talent Officer, Alexander DiLeonardo, and General Assembly VP, Priya Ramanathan

Closing skills and opportunity gaps for underrepresented talent groups with Macy CDO, Shawn Outler, Google Head of Economic Opportunity Americas, Hector Mujica, Chancellor of SUNY, Dr. John King, and New York Times CHRO, Jacqueline Welch

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