Welcome to Empowering Employment, a new series celebrating the companies that are doing their part to bridge the skills gap and help the economy. This month, CareerBuilder is proud to recognize staffing services company Randstad, whose innovative Inspiring Experts campaign is raising awareness for students regarding the in-demand skills employers need most.
Three years ago, Randstad, the second-largest staffing company in the world, was going through a rebranding process when the company recognized an opportunity to truly establish itself as an industry leader and powerhouse. “We wanted to build a platform that dealt with the issues facing our category, staffing,” explains Kristin Kelley, EVP of Marketing for Randstad U.S. “At the time, one of the biggest ones was this idea of a skill shortage.”
After looking deeper into the problem, Randstad’s leadership noticed there was a shortage of skill sets among people coming right out of college. New graduates simply didn’t have the range and depth of skills employers were looking for. Randstad saw an opportunity to raise awareness around this problem and help both students and employers. The result was Inspiring Experts, an engaging, interactive campaign to not just educate students about the fields of study with growing opportunities, but get them excited about pursuing careers in these fields.
Education and Awareness Through Social Media
Determined to create a campaign that was “fun and engaging,” Randstad turned to social media, combining the elements of video and storytelling. “We wanted it to earn its own following and own word of mouth from the people talking about it on our behalf,” Kelley says.
There are two main components to the Inspiring Experts campaign. The first one is a blog, covering everything from industry spotlights and interviews with industry professionals to career advice. The main component, however, is the video contest, in which both professionals and students can compete. Professionals can submit a two-minute video telling students about their experience in the workforce. All working professionals are welcome to participate, but those in highly in demand fields, such as technology and health care, are particularly encouraged to submit videos. “We want to showcase different occupations in a way that would break preconceived notions about certain fields of study, but also – and more importantly – show the opportunities in each field,” Kelley says of the goal with the professional videos. Students, on the other hand, submit videos “to talk about their experience as to why and how they’re breaking their perceptions” by choosing certain areas of study, Kelley explains.
All videos are uploaded to the Inspiring Experts website, where anyone can view and vote for their favorites. Students with the most popular votes are eligible to win scholarship money, while professionals get cash prizes for themselves and their favorite charity. To keep things interesting, Kelley says, Randstad adds a new element to the contest each year. This year, for example, people can provide stories of others who encouraged them in their careers.
Not that people need much more incentive to get creative, as submissions already range from educational to funny to completely unexpected. “Some people turn them into music videos and rock songs. It’s pretty neat.” At times, the video itself is the story. Kelley recalls one winner who had created a video chronicling his quest to be a graphic designer. During that process, however, he realized he could apply his graphic design classes to the more lucrative field of engineering, and ended up refocusing his career entirely. “It was funny,” Kelley recalls. “He was like, ‘It’s year two, I’m back, and this is what my life has been the last year.’”
From Campaign to Cause
Looking back now at how the project has evolved, what started as a branding campaign ultimately turned into something bigger: a movement to help bridge the skills gap the industry as a whole is facing.
“Originally, we wanted to make sure there was a pool of people coming out of school who could fill our needs and our clients’ needs. We also wanted to tell the story of Randstad in a fun way, and show that we are an innovative company.” What they soon realized, however, was that by branding themselves, they were also promoting the industry. And that became an even bigger part of the mission.
“If you’re a leader in any industry, it’s important that you stop talking about yourself and start helping with the issues facing the overall industry.”
[Video] How Randstad’s Inspiring Experts campaign is empowering employment: