Bernard Hodes Group and First Bank Make a Case For Mixing Things Up

December 3, 2003

    First Bank is the largest family-owned bank holding company in the United States. Although they offer a wide range of services in both the business and personal finance arenas, their customers consider them to be more of a friendly neighbor than a local financial institution. The Bank's neighborhood locations offer great insight into the particular needs of each community, and employing mostly local people enhances their reputation for treating people right. Growth in the St. Louis communities they serve had created new positions, as well as continuous hiring requirements for entry-level and experienced call center positions in customer service and lending.

    First Bank needed to create a large candidate pool to meet their increased hiring needs. We proposed a job fair in order to create a sense of urgency, establish an immediate spike in applicant flow and leverage employee referrals. We also proposed a broad-based media strategy to promote the event, which would consist of an existing employee referral program and a special promotion, as well as print, broadcast and collateral materials.

    Promotion of the event began with an e-mail blast to all St. Louis-area employees. This encouraged the invitation of friends to the open house, reminded them of the existing referral bonus, and informed employees of their eligibility for a $500 door prize. Colorful headline-driven posters were displayed at the local branch offices to reinforce the message. In addition, we developed an easel for the open house, which reminded candidates to mention if a First Bank friend had referred them. The job fair was also advertised in the St. Louis Post Dispatch and on the cover and inside of the St. Louis Employment Guide. The design of the ads was simple and clear-cut, allowing the humor of the headline ("Work here and you'll sleep better at night") and corresponding copy to stand out. This clearly communicated the benefits of working at a call center that is only open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. We also produced 60- and 15-second radio spots, which ran on "The Link" talk radio for one month. The copy focused on the jobs and community growth and directed all candidates to our client's Web site for more information.

    The job fair was a great success with 163 attendees, including 17 employee referrals. The event allowed First Bank to fill the 17 newly created positions immediately, four of which resulted from employee referrals. The true achievement can be measured by the incredibly low cost per hire, which was under $420. In addition, we effectively increased our client's candidate pool with qualified applicants, enabling them to make six additional hires for other departments as well.

Workforce Management, December 2003, p. 60 --Subscribe Now!