Deutsche Bank headhunting, texting students in new recruitment drive

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You might think that Deutsche Bank would have no need of chasing student talent. After all, the German bank - which is in the process of cutting 7,000 jobs from across the organization, said in May that around 110,000 students had applied for its graduate scheme globally. In fact, Deutsche Bank's recruitment techniques are some of the most aggressive of the lot.

Faye Woodhead, a director within Deutsche Bank’s HR department, lays out how the bank chases talent in a new blog post. Perhaps the biggest differentiator is that Deutsche Bank actively sources candidates through LinkedIn, rather than simply networking and waiting for applications. Woodhead told the FT last year that the bank uses publicly available social media channels to build a profile of students it wishes to target, including those that belong to certain clubs and societies, and then contacts them directly to see if they are interested.

At the time, Deutsche Bank said it was the only bank to use such an aggressive approach to student recruitment – something Woodhead doesn’t shy away from. “We headhunt graduates,” she notes in her blog.

It's not just LinkedIn. Deutsche Bank’s internal recruiters also use messaging service WhatsApp and invite students to interviews via text message, she said. Candidates can then log in to their system to choose an interview slot that works for them. Those who receive offers can download a mobile app that streams videos, posts internal announcements and provides online networking opportunities for students who have yet to start at the bank. DB also recently launched an interactive game where users navigate through hypothetical work scenarios and are scored on how well they react through the choices they make. (I did quite poorly).

When it comes to internal opportunities, Deutsche Bank uses artificial intelligence and algorithms to match current employees with vacancies. Woodhead said the bank is in the process of launching a new platform called “Yello” that connects candidates, recruiters, interviewers and event attendees, allowing them to engage with each other online.

Of course, Deutsche Bank isn’t the only firm to embrace technology to maximize its graduate recruiting efforts. Many banks including Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan now trim the herd through recorded and live video interviews. Some utilize software that can screen resumes, while almost every bank has made large investments in expansive online career hubs and social media campaigns aimed at the younger generation.

But no other firm appears to have gone to the lengths of Deutsche Bank. In fact, a graduate recruitment manager at another large bank told the FT last year that actively sourcing candidates through social media was a step too far. “Invading social media with cold, mature advertising feels like turning up at a university house party with a careers brochure,” they said.

Deutsche has no regrets. 110,000 applications aside, Woodhead is refreshingly honest about the current recruiting landscape for banks. “A few years ago we – and other financial institutions – were able to go onto campus and say ‘we are a bank, we are great, come and join us,’ and people would,” she said. “Due to the emergence of competitors outside of the financial services industry, and changing aspirations and demands from our talent pool, we now have to say ‘you are great, we need you, come and join us.’”

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