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How CDW became a proactive recruiting engine with Handshake Premium

A lesser known Fortune 500 company’s multi-faceted approach to early talent recruiting.

CDW is a leading Fortune 500 technology solutions provider to business, government, education, and healthcare organizations in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Its fingerprints can be found on technology in workplaces and workspaces of more than 250,000 companies, from fresh-faced startups to international conglomerates. With the breadth of products and services CDW offers, combined with the expertise of specialists, there is no request too big or too small. CDW co-workers across the globe are working together to bring technology to life for their customers. To maintain this customer-focused culture, talent acquisition plays a critical part in CDW’s overall business strategy.

Jared Bazzell, Talent Acquisition Manager, and his team play a key role in building CDW’s workforce. He manages a team of eight that recruit for CDW’s entry-level and internship opportunities each year. They scaled their programs exponentially in the last four years, especially around their early talent Sales hires because, as a professional services organization, CDW is reliant on customer-facing relationships. CDW’s Sales Internship Program started out with five Sales interns in 2015, and this summer it has grown to 113 - that’s a growth rate of 23X in just five years!

Facing fierce brand competition

Since CDW is a B2B company, it’s been historically difficult to compete with flashier, consumer-facing brands. To win over top talent, Jared knew they needed to get CDW’s name out there - fast. To do that effectively, the team took a multi-faceted approach to early talent recruiting and decided to extend its partnership with Handshake by adopting Handshake Premium. When he rolled out the new solution, Jared’s team joined forces with the Recruitment Marketing organization to get the word out about CDW at campuses across the US. To do this, they ended up increasing their list of schools from 50 schools to over 500 - both virtually and on campus. Their secret sauce to scale? They hired a recruiter specifically dedicated to expanding their reach with a digital strategy. That hire was focused on personalizing outreach to specific talent groups on Handshake Premium. As a result, Jared’s team was able to be proactive in their outreach and level up their early talent recruiting tactics.

“One of the issues with [our employer brand] is that we aren’t a consumer brand. Although we are a Fortune 500 organization, we are a B2B company and a reseller of technology solutions. We wanted a tool that would allow us to increase the awareness of who CDW is. That has been at the center of everything we have done on Handshake."

Making CDW famous on campus

To scale the new program effectively, Jared combined a broad-reaching approach with more personalized, targeted outreach. He was able to use Handshake’s powerful Segments to narrow his talent audience and find students and alumni with relevant skills that indicated they would excel in a customer-facing role. CDW reached early talent across a variety of majors to hire for their entry-level roles, such as Marketing, Business Administration, and Finance. Then, the Recruitment Marketing team built out content to share to those priority talent groups about working at CDW to increase interest in the brand as a whole.

Extending opportunities to early talent across the U.S.

By partnering with Handshake more extensively, the CDW talent acquisition team has an expansive reach across colleges nationwide. “We don’t care what school you come from,” Jared mentioned. His team’s main goal is around finding students and recent graduates who would be leaders in their field, which means they would need to extend their reach to find early career talent from any school and any background. To find the right people, the team relies on filtering on location preferences in Handshake. That way, recruiters are able to identify which talent is interested in relocating to cities where CDW has offices, saving tons of time on back-and-forth with candidates that aren’t interested in moving.

“From an outreach perspective, we engage students that want to work in our cities that are also looking for a role in technology and in Sales.”

Becoming a top early talent brand

As a result of their digital recruiting efforts to actively search for and converse with relevant early talent on Handshake, Jared’s team watched their employer brand on campuses skyrocket. They also saw:

  • 5X increase in employer brand awareness
  • 160% more applications than talent competitors
  • 81% message open rate, which is 16 percentage points higher than the average on Handshake

What’s more is that the quality of the candidates they sourced was so high that they converted their Sales interns at a rate of 69% last year. To keep up this momentum, CDW’s Talent Acquisition team uses reporting & analytics to better understand where the most applications came from year over year, where their competitors recruit, and how to better focus their time. Jared and his team will continue to monitor their data using Handshake Analytics so they can optimize their campus recruiting strategy in the long run.

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