How Enterprise Recruits And Develops Diverse New Grad Talent


What’s the secret to building a successful university recruiting program and hiring diverse new grad talent? We’ve talked about branding, building relationships on-campus, and having a compelling careers page (to name just a few). But one of the keys to meeting your hiring goals and maintaining a diverse workforce is to make your company a place where candidates from a range of backgrounds feel supported, not just during the recruitment process, but throughout their entire career.

Enterprise Holdings Inc. regularly recruits thousands of new college grads (this year they’re set to hire 8,500) and makes diversity a priority throughout the organization. We caught up with Marie Artim, Vice President, Talent Acquisition at Enterprise Holdings Incto discuss the Enterprise approach to recruiting, hiring, and developing diverse talent.

Can you tell us a little bit about Enterprise Holdings Inc.?

We are Enterprise Holdings, which is the Enterprise, National, and Alamo brand of transportation, car rental. Really the Enterprise brand is what we speak to because our Enterprise Management Training program and the internship program that mirror that are really what drives us.

We promote entirely from within, so those are the positions that start people’s careers. Typically when we talk about our management training program, those would be the folks you see at an Enterprise location. If you go to one of our locations to rent a car, some of the positions that we’d be recruiting for would be the folks you would see there.

We are the leader in our industry and operate as a company in close to 70 countries. We’ve had a huge expansion both as a corporate entity and through franchisees.

We have about 80,000 employees and over $17 billion in revenue. We are a privately held company. The Taylor family started the business here in St. Louis and it’s still headquartered here and it’s still a family-owned business.

We’re a leader in transportation and mobility, which includes car rental, car sales, leasing, and car sharing—it’s a lot more diverse than people may expect. The Enterprise brand has grown over the years in the neighborhood market; we’re doing business in the places where people live and work.

What is your role like as Vice President of Talent Acquisition?

I oversee global talent acquisition, so my role is to help drive the strategy and direction of what we do in the recruitment world. We have about 200 recruiters across the company that I help to support by giving them tools, resources, training, and development with things like our brand and marketing and visibility.

How is your team structured?

We are very much local and geographically based and our recruiters in the field are responsible for “full-cycle recruitment,” so we don’t have a special function that’s just college, for example. They are geographically based, so if I am the recruiter in Seattle, my job is to help with any of the hiring and selection for that market. From the campus end, I’m going to represent the company at the campuses within my market and help us to recruit across the country. So if I meet a student at the University of Washington who’s interested in Pittsburgh, I’m going to help facilitate that. But on a day-to-day basis I’m always recruiting talent for my market.

Because of our promote from within policy, the majority of hiring is for the management training program, so whether they’re coming off campus or they’re coming to us through the job market, or from an employee referral, they’re part of that hiring.

Campus is a big part of overall strategy, and a big part of our role, but it is not specific to that.

Other than the management training program, do you offer any other programs for new hires?

The management training program is the vast majority, but we have a management internship program, which is for current students. And one thing that would be outside of the scope of that at a level of national appeal is our accounting positions. We have a similar promote from within development program for those that would come in as a staff accountant and go through a development program and could go on to become a controller, VP of finance, audit, all kinds of different directions.

How many graduates do you tend to hire in a typical year? What type of recruiting schedule do you work on?

We’ll hire about 8,500 college grads this year, not necessarily all from campus, but all college graduates. From a campus schedule, we really are on campus both in the fall and the spring. We focus year-round on our hiring both on campus and off we have an ongoing approach.

You mentioned that not necessarily all of the 8,500 hires will be coming from on-campus events. Where will the rest of them be coming from?

They come from a variety of sources. We have an employee referral program, which is one of our largest sources of hires, and from different internet or web-based sources.

What types of recruiting activities do you participate in during a typical year?

This is where we’re a bit unique. We are built to really have the depth and breadth to be very involved on the campuses where we recruit, which is over 800 in a typical year.

We’re doing the typical things like career fairs, on-campus interviews, and information sessions, but we’re also involved in classroom work, student organizations, and athletics. We try to be diverse in the approach that we take across the campus and be very high touch.

Is this something you oversee in your role or leave to the local recruiters?

The ultimate decision comes at the local level and they build their plans. We try to give them tools and resources, best practices, and idea sharing to help facilitate those decisions and plans. It’s kind of a hybrid approach. We provide a lot of training, development, and tools to help them understand where the different aspects of recruitment come from, how to measure success, and whether it be partnerships or relationships that we can help to develop on a national level, but ultimately they’ll work with their particular schools to build plans and decide what they’ll participate in and how.

What kind of attributes are you looking for in your candidates?

We focus more on the soft skills, so we’re not specific to major, campus, or GPA as much as we are looking for someone with customer service and empathy, communication skills, work ethic, flexibility, that’s a multi-tasker, has great teamwork. We really kind of have a broad brush as to being able to welcome students from all backgrounds and of all types of diversity, not just ethnic or gender—we really want to make sure it’s a broad and inclusive group.

How would you describe the Enterprise approach to diversity recruiting?

It’s woven into our values and culture, so when we look at diversity as a company and diversity recruitment specifically, it’s not a siloed piece, it’s woven together. So I’ll work with our head of diversity and our diversity teams nationally and locally to help support and drive efforts, and help us be better at them. We’re also looking at it holistically and the idea that we are supporting the communities where we work and live. Our recruitment focus on diversity is woven into our overall focus on being an organization that’s for diversity and inclusion.

What are some specific examples of how you work with the head of diversity?

He and I work together looking at everything from partnerships or programs that we work together internally to build. He’s part of training and development of our recruitment team to make sure our story is being told in that way. He’ll help to represent us in some of those organizations like the BEEP program which is part of the National Urban League. We’ll work together in communications or efforts to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or Hispanic Serving Institutions; we basically work hand-in-hand in the aspects where our jobs overlap.

How are you involved with diversity student groups?

Overall we certainly work with different student groups. At a local level we really dig in and support and develop relationships and find ways to add value so we’re not just looking for résumés. We don’t necessarily do as much at the national level because of the way we’re structured. For undergrad programs and organizations, which is where we do the majority of our recruitment, we do have a relationship with National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) which has allowed us at a national level to build a partnership and then allows our teams at a local level to work with them. For the accounting program, that’s a unique one that we have.

Otherwise, we kind of bring it in at a holistic level, knowing that we want to be inclusive and seek diversity by opening our doors. When we look at the student populations and the student groups, the audiences we’re in front of, we’re very much aware that we’re not limiting our scope to a certain small number of institutions or programs or even GPAs because we are giving all students the opportunity to at least participate in our process. We’re very much relationship people so at the local level there’s a lot happening in that depth and breadth area, but not so much at the national level. Some of our operations are very involved with the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality and at NSMH it makes sense, it’s the type of student from a target perspective that we’re looking for that’s successful in our business but allows us to open up a new avenue.

Is there anything about diversity recruiting and working with student groups that we haven’t covered yet that you’d like to add?

One of the things that really helps us is our promote from within policy because the people in our business, whether they be in the management roles or in the recruitment roles, they were management trainees first. We really rely on our current employee base to help us continue to grow and develop our new one, so they’re a great resource for us.

If I look at alum of a university or an organization or a program, they often are the ones helping us understand how to best approach that particular audience. We really look to our current employees and our people to help us continue to grow in our relationships with student organizations and diversity in general. This helps us allow the people who are passionate about it to get involved.

Can you tell me more about the management training program?

We really do bring everyone in under our management training program, it’s where I started, it’s where our CEO started, and everyone that you’ll meet at the operational end of the business got their start there. There are a few exceptions, but that is the way into our company.

It’s an 8–12 month program, it’s the person’s first position. It’s very structured, very deep—you’re really learning everything it takes to run a business. They’re involved in the business itself, but also learning everything from the front-end, like customer service and sales to B2B marketing to back-end like financials, logistics, and operations.

That career path can go in a million different directions but it starts really with growing up within one of those branches where you go in and rent a car. The first opportunities for promotion come within a few months, so you can be an assistant manager, which involves taking on a significant amount of responsibility and part of running a branch within a year or a year and half.

You can be a branch manager, who’s running one of those operations with millions in assets, its cars, a team of people, a book of business and all the things that go with that.

It’s really a jumping off point where people can come in and really grow their careers anywhere so all of our HR functions, myself, our generalists, our training and development folks, sales and marketing, logistics, purchasing, inventory, you name it, risk management—all those functions the teams that have built there and the management and leadership of those teams have grown out of that training program.

Basically we look at it and say, you’re promoting yourself up to a branch manager and then you can really open the door to go in a number of different directions and change careers without changing companies.

The training program is very hands-on with a lot of structure, but it’s learning from the business. You certainly do get exposure and understanding to a lot of the different parts of the business and how they work, but it’s not rotational. You’re doing everything it takes on any given day. It’s definitely very fast-paced and multi-tasking, throughout your career you’re getting the opportunity to learn more about the different parts of our business, the different departments, the different divisions, how we work together, what we do.

As opportunities open, we have an internal career center which is like our own job board that really shares all the opportunities that are available and who’s eligible for them. It’s always very open and transparent and we really build a lot around developing the tools and resources to help people understand what’s in that and develop our talent in those roles, so we don’t have people come into human resources that have done human resources before. We have extensive training and development to help them get up to speed and become a valued member of that team.

The next step: Marie gives a few examples of how she collaborates with the Head of Diversity in her organization to make sure their team’s efforts are aligned. Think of a few ways that you may be able to collaborate with the diversity team—or any other teams in your company that have similar goals to yours.


3 Responses to “How Enterprise Recruits And Develops Diverse New Grad Talent”

  1. James Davis

    Thanks Melissa, I’ll keep all these points in mind while hiring the candidates from the colleges for diversity jobs.


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