FEDERATED’S VIDEO RECRUITING
Byline: Denise Power
NEW YORK — Federated Department Stores has invested in technology that enables visitors to its career-recruitment Web site to download to their PCs full-motion video clips featuring top executives and student interns discussing employment opportunities at the company.
Despite early reservations about the feature and concerns that some home computers may not be equipped to activate the videos, the retailer reports healthy traffic in that area of its Web site, www.retailology.com.
“We had over 1,700 video clips viewed in the first month,” the site went live, said Susan Burns, director of college relations for Federated, which operates the Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s East, Macy’s West, The Bon Marche, Burdines, Stern’s and Rich’s chains, as well as Fingerhut. Site visitors wanting to download the video clips must have minimum system requirements and video-viewing plug-in software installed in their computers. Plug-in software programs are applications that extend the capabilities of an Internet browser.
“We knew we were taking a risk with the technology by not knowing how many people have access or how many are qualified to view it,” Burns said. “Our effort was to step out and test it. It’s a way to allow students to access us in a high tech sort of way.”
Federated chose to feature video clips on its site to illustrate to job candidates that a career in retail has very little to do with what they might observe at the local shopping mall. In the video footage, executives working in various divisions talk about what their workday entails. Clips also feature Federated’s chairman and chief executive officer James Zimmerman and Terry Lundgren, president, along with testimonials from student interns working at the chain.
Federated’s recruitment site, launched in September and geared heavily toward college students, is not intended to supplant traditional recruitment strategies, noted Sherry Hollock, operational vice president for organization development at Federated. “It’s a way to access a broader array of candidates,” she said.
Two months after going live, the site generated 700 resumes, recorded 31,000 visitors and documented more than 120,000 page views, according to Burns.
Interactive features such as video clips are an effective way to communicate with college students, said Amanda Nicholson, assistant professor and program director of the retailing program, Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y.
“It’s something they can relate to” when researching potential employers, said Nicholson, whose retail background includes stints at Marks & Spencer in the United Kingdom and Carson Pirie Scott.
“Students want to know about what sorts of things you do every day. It’s not like they’re thinking, ‘Let’s check out the P&E ratios.’ When you are 22 years old, a retailer’s P&E ratio is not front of mind for you,” when evaluating prospective employers.
She also noted that these days, students seem to begin job searches earlier in their college career, and the Internet is an invaluable source of information for them. “I encourage retailers who are innovative and serious [about recruitment] to start wooing our students a little earlier than their senior years. Their impressions are forming early.”