Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Getting to "Yes" with the Right Candidates: Best Practice Tips on Recruiting and "Onboarding" Look at Process and Technology in Balance

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Getting to "Yes" with the Right Candidates: Best Practice Tips on Recruiting and "Onboarding" Look at Process and Technology in Balance

Article excerpt

Grace Migliaccio compares her current employer to Disney, a place where she used to work and which influenced her development as an executive. The senior vice-president of human resources for Commerce Bank, Cherry Hill, N.J., says, "Commerce is the Disney of banking in that it wants to create a delightful banking experience." If "delight" seems too heady a word, think of it in terms of having employees who act engaged, helpful, and useful when interacting with clients.

And, as corporate culture--even a corporate personality--is a key ingredient of the Commerce customer service approach, it is tended to with care. "Our personnel selection process is very defined; likewise, we are looking for certain types of people, typically those who are familiar with working in retail and like customer service," says Migliaccio. "We tend to view a candidate from the perspective of cultural fit rather than simply looking at their ability to be a loan officer, teller, or analyst," she says.

The human resource executive points out that there are people who love the bank's structured approach to recruiting, onboarding (today's term for orientation), and training. "People who feel good about their hiring and orientation process tend to love working here," she says. "Yet there are people who might bristle under the high-energy enthusiasm of it all." Candidate selection, which is increasingly aided by technology, is designed to automate some of the screening and move the evaluation process along, from applying to hiring to getting acquainted during the early days of employment.

But it's not all about making the process easy for Commerce.

"We also think about the candidate experience--are we approachable? Is the process reasonable?" says Migliaccio, noting that the bank's senior management thinks about its employer brand." This could be defined as the vibe it gives off in its messaging and approach to hiring. (The bank even solicits feedback from employees at various intervals in their career with the bank.)

Referring to onboarding, she explains, "If you don't like the idea of going through 'Tradition,' the program presented to new employees on the first day, or the idea of meeting and knowing senior management as part of getting to know the bank, then this might not be the place for you," she offers. (CEO Vernon Hill will present his vision of the company during Tradition, and tends to question new hires about their former employers, among other conversational lines.)

When Migliaccio started with Commerce six years ago, the bank's HR department was still largely paper-based. Now the department has an automated applicant tracking system, works with electronic job boards, and has an employee website to help orient and inform new hires. Necessary procedures like fingerprinting and background checks will be further streamlined through a single outsourcer sometime over the next year. Today, new hires get a DVD with all the paperwork they need to fill out, so that much of this processing can done at home, ("Where they are relaxed and can fill it out carefully") and a manual that is like an FAQ of Commerce basics. They also are assigned a buddy to help with the familiarization process.

Commerce might be among the leaders in taking a "sophisticated, branded approach to hiring," but they aren't alone. It's becoming more of a must-do at a time when it's tougher to find the right stuff in the field.

What's the new norm?

When it comes to hiring tellers, call center staff, loan officers, analysts, or even senior management, what's changing these days? Well, everything--and not just at Commerce.

Operating just outside Chicago in Itasca, Ill., First Midwest Bank redesigned its recruitment program within the last two years in response to high churn and a sense that a better process could yield a bigger pool of suitable candidates. Part of the new approach involves use of an internet-based prescreening tool and a series of structured interviews created by Development Dimension, Inc. …

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