21 July 2009
SG Cowen Case Analysis
Chip Rae and SG Cowen have a very demanding candidate recruitment, selection and hiring process for new external associate hires. It is without a doubt directed to securing only the most talented personnel that is available to them. Only the top notch candidates with exceptional education and/or job accomplishments are even considered for interviews.
The stringent process consists of multiple “rounds” and begins in the fall of each year when SG Cowen’s recruiting team starts making company presentations at its ”core business schools” where it has participated in the schools recruiting programs. SG Cowen’s concentration is on its core business schools; however they do accept resumes from candidates at noncore schools. The process comes to a close at the end of “Super Saturday”. Super Saturday is considered the final round of the process. Super Saturday is a day of interviews between 30 bankers and 30 associate candidates.
The choice of core schools was essential. The method used to decide at which schools to recruit was initially met with resistance from the senior management. It was viewed as “going downstream”. The initial strategy was based the top 25 business schools at that time. The concept made sense because one would not go to an architectural school for medical interns. The concept behind Rae’s initial strategy was to focus on recruiting at the top 10 of the top 25 schools and at first glance it seemed like an excellent concept. Realizing that larger organizations, “with huge recruiting budgets, recognized brand names and…, larger hiring needs”, had chosen to use a similar strategy Rae revaluated his initial plan.
Rae then developed a second strategy that was focused on recruiting at the later 15 schools of the top 25. The second strategy was actually a better idea and more in line with an “employers market”. An employer’s market is a scenario in which the field of candidates can get crowded and the prospects restricted and will give the candidates less leverage to negotiate lucrative salaries and/or benefit packages. Choosing to focus on the later 15 versus the top 10 was a great idea for competitive reasons as well. It would allow SG Cowen to focus on recruiting its candidates with less likely hood of the larger organizations going after the same individual.
Rae’s strategy did have its disadvantages. The fact that the recruiting team was open to resumes from candidates attending noncore schools helps to counterbalance the failure to expand the recruiting neighborhood. But, it did not offset the loss of organization advertising and name recognition.
SG Cowen’s presence on campus is a must to ensure the best opportunity for potential candidates to be recruited and educated on the subject of SG Cowen and the opportunities that are available within the organization, especially within the centralized recruiting method that Rae has implemented. Holding on-campus recruiting programs at its “core business schools” is an excellent recruiting method that allowed the organization to have a strong foothold within the schools community and provide a positive influence within the schools administration. The presence of SG Cowen on the college campus is a direct indication that they do believe that “they are recruiting not just for the present but for the long term”.
One of the biggest strengths of SG Cowen’s centralized recruiting method was the placement of “team captains” at each of the core schools. The placement of the team captains is a direct implementation method of the theory “we are who we recruit”. Another symbolic action of that theory was ensuring that the team captains were baking professionals and alumni of the particular schools of recruitment.
The placement of the captains ensured that there was a consistent and familiar point of contact for the candidates. It allowed the candidates to...