How Whirlpool’s Student Recruitment Strategy Improved Year-on-Year: Q&A

“Since partnering with Handshake, we increased our early-career female hires from 41% to 51% year-on-year (YOY), and the percentage of underrepresented minority hires from 35% to 40% YOY.”


Tim Streeter, global head of talent acquisition, Whirlpool, discusses how to improve student recruitmentOpens a new window metrics year-on-year using Handshakes software. A student recruitment startup, Handshake focuses on helping college students find full-time jobs and internships. Streeter talks about democratizing job opportunities for university recruiting and how Whirlpool Corporations early talent recruitment programOpens a new window evolved after its partnership with Handshake.

In this edition of HR Talk, Streeter shares tips on recruitment marketingOpens a new window and hiring during the coronavirusOpens a new window (COVID-19) pandemic to prevent business slowdown. He also demonstrates how the best HR tech supports Whirlpools goal to create a workforce representative of its global community.

Key takeaways from our interview on student recruitment strategies:

Here’s the edited transcript from our exclusive interview with Tim Streeter:

Tim, tell us a little about your career path, your role at Whirlpool, and how your team strives toward creating excellence every day.

I spent the first 22 years of my career at Accenture, starting in the Consulting practice, moving internally to support talent acquisition (TA) in a variety of roles, and ultimately holding a variety of global leadership positions in talent acquisition and Workforce Planning. In 2017, I moved into the role of global head of talent acquisition for Whirlpool Corporation with a scope covering all Executive, Experienced, University, Hourly, and Contractor hiring. At Whirlpool, all recruiters anchor to our talent acquisition success measures as a common language and make sure that anything we spend time or money on is improving our Delivery, Quality, Value, Experience, and Diversity in a measurable way.

How is Whirlpool leading the way in democratizing job opportunities? Can you share the milestones of your early talent recruitment program?

Nearly all companies take a similar approach to university recruiting today, which mirrors what they have done for decades:

  • Recruiting early talent from traditional core schools and
  • Utilizing major grade point average (GPA) as proxies for skills and potential

While this conventional approach is familiar to both recruiters and company leaders, who typically graduated from the same schools, it severely limits the diversity of the talent pool. Plus, the one-to-many candidate experience is misaligned with the personalization and customization that defines most other aspects of the digital lives of todays students.
Whirlpool Corporation is making strides in transforming this legacy approach to university recruiting.

I am a firm believer that it is an employer’s responsibility to bring social justice and democratization of opportunity into the recruiting space. That is one of the reasons we partnered with Handshake to evolve Whirlpool Corporations early talent recruitment program.

– Tim Streeter, global head of talent acquisition, Whirlpool

By expanding our early talent recruiting strategy beyond core schools, Whirlpool Corporation held one-third of our early talent recruiting events virtually and achieved a goal of 20% of our incoming class being sourced from schools at which we had no physical presence.

While this approach has transformed the diversity and candidate experience results for Whirlpool Corporation, as others follow, it also holds the promise of democratizing opportunities for all students regardless of what university they attend.

It is this potential impact which motivates me and drives my team to actively influence other Fortune 500 companies to do the same.

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As diversity and inclusion continues to be top of mind for many employers, which are the top 3 recruitment metrics that help Whirlpool to recruit a more diverse pool of early talent?

The most globally relevant recruitment metric is the percentage of female headcount. In order to improve from starting headcount to ending headcount, there are three basic levers: retention, promotion, and hiring.

This requires partnership across HR with those responsible for employee experience and engagement, succession planning, and talent acquisition. It is critical to understand the goals for each lever and have active programs and initiatives in place to drive those results in each lever.

In the U.S., we also focus on increasing our percentage of underrepresented minority hires. Since partnering with Handshake, for example, we increased our early-career female hires from 41% to 51% YOY, and the percentage of underrepresented minority hires from 35% to 40% YOY.

– Tim Streeter, global head of talent acquisition, Whirlpool

This led, in part, to Whirlpool Corporation being recognized as a Best Employer for Diversity in 2019 by Forbes, another success metric that demonstrates how far we are moving the needle.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to grip recruitment processes, how does Whirlpool continue to hire in a bid to prevent a business slowdown?

In addition to an immediate transition to recruiters working from home at a global scale, we are focused on virtual everything. This includes expanding our use of virtual events for candidates, and designing and launching new virtual onsite experiences, virtual onboarding of new hires, and virtual internship experiences.

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Which recruitment marketing aspect have you found most useful email/social media?

With many companies focused on employer ratings and niche demographics, it is critical for us to understand where our candidates go to evaluate us as a potential employer and focus on those channels. We leverage feedback from candidate experience surveys to keep a pulse on this, and ensure we keep the top sites fresh with our most relevant and compelling recruitment marketing.

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Which HR tech best supports Whirlpools goal to create a workforce representative of its global community? What are the measurable results you will focus on with the help of the new tech?

Automated Behavioral Assessments have the potential to be an absolute game-changer, provided success profiles can be built rapidly and at the job family level. If Fortune 500 companies can work together to actively influence convergence on 23 best-in-class tools and start to use them, the impact will be massive. Instead of pre-selecting based on university / degree / GPA or previous company, when companies lead with matching on behavioral profiles first, it enables us to tap into talent we otherwise would have missed, minimizes risk of unconscious bias, and democratizes opportunities for all students and experienced professionals.

Imagine a world where all candidates complete these assessments and they are stored as part of their profile in tools like Handshake and LinkedIn. It will drive better matches based on more predictive criteria, which will drive better results for both employers and candidates. We have an opportunity to materially change how talent is discovered.

– Tim Streeter, global head of talent acquisition, Whirlpool

How have you seen HR leaderships attitude towards HR tech evolve? Can you elaborate with an example?

With technology so prevalent in our everyday lives, people expect the same to be part of the recruitment process as well. This is not limited to HR leadership candidates, hiring managers, and recruiters all have the same expectation. The challenge is navigating the hundreds of players in the recruitment technology space, piecing together a solution that meets the needs of your company, and competing with our internal HR technology priorities to get it done.

How can talent managers build a successful business case to invest in more HR tech?

In my experience, there is always money to invest in priorities, but this will come from redirecting your existing investments rather than asking someone for more budget. By constantly monitoring return on investment (ROI) across various investments, a knowledgeable TA leader can confidently take money from low performing investments and use them to fund new experiments expected to drive better results. It is like actively managing suppliers or an investment portfolio.

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Can you give us a sneak peek into the upcoming talent acquisition projects at Whirlpool you are most excited about?

Per previous comments, implementation of Automated Behavior Assessments is the top priority, but we are also evaluating a short list of options for AI Matching Systems to automate as much of the sourcing and candidate outreach as is reasonably possible.

Which key trends are you tracking in talent acquisition in 2020 and beyond?

The promise of using AI in sourcing has existed for 23 years now, but we are only just seeing the emergence of viable products that could be considered as more than an experiment.

Automated behavioral assessment holds the promise of improving speed, quality, experience, and diversity all at the same time while democratizing opportunities.

– Tim Streeter, global head of talent acquisition, Whirlpool

And, I would love to see Handshake expand their focus globally to amplify the social impact. Together, these enable movement away from recruiters dependency on core schools and LinkedIn and increase access to top talent wherever it exists.

Neha: Thank you, Tim, for sharing your valuable insights on student recruitment strategies. We hope to talk to you again, soon.

About Tim StreeterOpens a new window
With 25+ years of experience, Tim Streeter is a recruiting thought leader with a history of driving results. With Whirlpool since 2017, his scope includes hiring of all Executives, Experienced, Entry-Level, Hourly, and Contractors. Prior to that, Tim was with Accenture for 20+ years in a variety of client-facing and global TA leadership roles. When he left, he led 2,500 recruiters worldwide and managed a $250+ million budget delivering 100,000 hires / year.

About WhirlpoolOpens a new window
Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE: WHR) is the worlds leading major home appliance company, with approximately $20 billion in annual sales, 77,000 employees and 59 manufacturing and technology research centers in 2019. The company markets Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Consul, Brastemp, Amana, Bauknecht, JennAir, Indesit and other major brand names in nearly every country throughout the world.

About HR Talk
HR Talk is an interview series that features top people and talent leaders from HR tech and Fortune 500 companies who are redefining the future of work. Join us as we talk to these HR tech and people analytics experts to get in-depth insights, and some pro-tips on how HR tech can best work for you and your people.

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