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Donna Miller

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

European HR Director

Read more about Donna Miller

HRD Insight: Enterprise-Rent-A-Car’s Donna Miller on graduate recruitment


Enterprise-Rent-A-Car puts a huge focus on graduate recruitment schemes, with the aim of encouraging fresh thinking and bringing new ideas into the company.

The firm, which was set up in 1957, has a culture of promoting from within.
It recognises that providing employees with clear opportunities for advancement motivates them and encourages them to stay by putting forward the ethos of ‘all-being-in-it-together’.
With a few exceptions, we usually restrict entry into the company to graduates in order to develop talent up through the ranks. We will look to recruit externally on occasion, however, particularly when hiring for senior or specialist positions.
In the case of graduates, however, they start in the retail operations side so that they can gain a firm understanding of the core business, its values and goals. This is very important if they wish to progress within the company.
Most of our senior executives started their own careers on the graduate training programme, which is something we are very proud of. It means that managers understand the challenges of being a trainee and are well-placed to address any issues or give valuable time in order to provide them with advice.
We also believe it is important not to ‘shepherd’ people into certain areas of the business, but to provide everyone with a transparent and level playing field. At different stages of their training, for instance, graduates are given opportunities to work for different managers.
This broad range of experience teaches them that there is no single way of doing things. It also gives them a clear view of different job roles before they choose to settle on a certain path, whether that be customer service, sales or general management.
Because graduates can see their own career and progression pathways clearly and are operating alongside others who are working towards similar goals, there is a real sense of team spirit and camaraderie at the company.
A realistic overview
I have been asked whether we feel that we miss out on talent or ‘new blood’ by placing so much emphasis on recruiting from within. But this would imply that people stay in the same roles for a very long time without encountering new challenges and/or new working relationships.
In fact, our people are encouraged to move from branch to branch, from region to region and from country to country, which is refreshing for the business and provides our staff with new challenges. In total, we relocate around 750 employees per year, both locally and globally.           
The recruitment process, in this instance, takes the form of a series of interviews in order to assess what specific competencies are required to fill a given position. We would also consider taking on non-graduate applicants if they had suitable alternative employment or educational experience and could demonstrate a positive and proactive attitude.
There is a team of 25 dedicated recruitment people in place across the country to manage our hiring processes, marketing and assessment activity. Because we understand that there is more to a graduate than the class of degree that they obtained, we see a lot of candidates.
We do not specify that people have business degrees nor do we look for a 2:1 grade. Instead we assess each individual’s work experience and other activities, with the goal of considering someone in the round.
The recruitment team is instructed to speak to every candidate on the ‘phone within 48 hours of their application being received and our assessment centre also plays an important part in our recruitment process.
We aim to give candidates a realistic overview of the position they are going for by asking them to take part in activities that are similar to those undertaken during the graduate training programme.
There are five key things to consider when embarking on a graduate recruitment drive, however:
  1. Devise clear graduate recruitment criteria and stick to them – Do not make exceptions, even when the number of applicants is low. Staying true to your goals will ensure that the quality of candidates you take on remains consistent. 
  2. Ensure assessment centres are well-designed – Providing a stimulating environment ensures that candidates are in the right frame of mind to perform to the best of their ability. A positive experience will encourage candidates to reapply, even if they failed to get a place in the first instance.
  3. Rise to the diversity challenge – Encourage applications from a wide range of universities rather than just the top 10 or 20. As higher fees take hold, a lot of potential talent will become less mobile and may have to live with family rather than go away to study at the more prestigious establishments.
  4. Provide interviewers across the company with consistent training – If interviews take place at a number of different offices, make sure that interviewers stick to the same questioning process in order to ensure fairness.
  5. Remember that every interviewee is a potential customer – Ensuring that candidates are treated well during the recruitment process is very important – they should be treated like customers. Even if they are not selected for a job but leave with a positive view of the company, they are more likely to recommend it to friends and family.

Donna Miller is European HR director at car hire firm, Enterprise Rent-A-Car. It is sponsoring the Management Undergraduate of the Year accolade for the 2012 Targetjobs’ Undergraduate of the Year Awards.

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Donna Miller

European HR Director

Read more from Donna Miller

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