HR Insider Aug 25 2010

PNC's Melissa Mounce: Getting Proactive for Passive Candidates

By kyle stock

You know a bank is doing well when it builds a 35-person headhunting team -- in addition to its traditional recruiting force -- just to seek out candidates that aren't necessarily looking for a job.

PNC Financial Services Group Inc., a Pittsburgh based institution with retail banks along the East Coast and Midwest, has done just that. It has also paid off its TARP bill and subsumed National City, a struggling Ohio-based bank with almost 30,000 workers.

FINS sat down with Melissa Mounce, PNC's senior vice president of corporate talent acquisition, to discuss the company's wave of newly acquired employees, its growing mortgage business and why its managers are doing more informational interviews these days.

Kyle Stock: What has PNC done in the way of hiring recently?

Melissa Mounce: Of particular note is our expansion of some branches in some key market areas. With that we're bringing in tellers, branch managers and licensed financial consultants. Also, our mortgage side of the business is very active in hiring loan officers. Unlike our retail banking footprint, our mortgages services are offered all over the country, so we have opportunities nationwide.

KS: Are these folks are primarily restructuring current mortgages or doing new lending?

MM: They're doing a little bit of both, but we're really focused on writing new loans.

KS: Are there any plans to spread your retail banking into new markets?

MM: Well, we just finished the acquisition of National City, which increased our footprint substantially. We're very excited about that and have definitely gotten a big lift out of that.

KS: I was going to ask about that; how many employees did PNC inherit in that deal?

MM: Close to 30,000.

KS: Did National City have any units or offerings that were new to PNC?

MM: Both companies were very similar in terms of lines of business. The mortgage company did come with the National City acquisition. PNC had a joint venture with Wells Fargo to offer mortgages to clients. Other than that, it was very complimentary in terms of the types of people, the structure and the culture of the two companies. It was a very good fit that extended our services to a number of new areas, notably Florida, the Chicago/Milwaukee areas, St. Louis, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

The growth of PNC is really across the board. On our retail banking side there are a large number of non-exempt type of positions -- our tellers, operation centers. But right now, the needs that we have are more on the exempt side of the business -- more mid-level and senior-level people. That's been an interesting change. And we're really shifting away from the passive candidate strategy.

KS: By that you mean that you are proactively looking for candidates more?

MM: Right. We still have a very strong attraction strategy, where we draw people into our career sites and other positions. But a huge strategic focus for us from a recruiting standpoint is being able to find that talent that isn't active in the market and get them excited about PNC.

KS: How are you going about doing that?

MM: We've created a centralized sourcing team and really decoupled that sourcing area from the relationship management that a recruiter would have. The team gets pretty deep into where these candidates are and how we can network with them. It's very opportunistic. If a candidate comes into a recruiter and we don't have a need that suits their background, is that recruiter aware that there might be other places for that background? If we don't have a spot for them today, maybe we will in three months. We want to keep a relationship with that candidate.

KS: How big is this team?

MM: About 35 people right now and they are aligned by line of business.

KS: Are they new hires or were they transferred from elsewhere in the company?

MM: About 90% of them are new employees.

KS: What the best way for candidates to get on their radar?

MM: All of our sourcers are very, very active on LinkedIn. That's one of their major tools. Also, there will be job postings via our career site, but that is a very highly competitive venue right now. We're all seeing quite an uptick in the number of applicants coming in and we're actually seeing a decrease in the number of qualified applicants. I think people take more of a volume approach sometimes. It's easy, in the volumes of resumes we're receiving, for a candidate that is truly qualified to stand out. And we always recommend networking within the company -- finding someone within the company that can act as an envoy.

[The team's] work is usually very referral-based. …It really has changed how we are working with our businesses and our hiring managers, because it requires a different orientation for our hiring managers. It requires them to be open for informational type interviews, to meet with someone even when there isn't a specific position available. But they're seeing the payoff for that, because they're seeing the quality of the candidates.

It used to be more of an interview, now it's more of a conversation.

KS: Do you use outside recruiters?

MM: Every so often we use third-party recruiters, but we have reduced that significantly.

KS: Are your recruiters using social networks?

MM: We have a whole recruiting-marketing plan. We are also launching Facebook for our campus recruiting initiative. And beyond that we do some search-engine marketing and search-engine optimization.

KS: You paid back the TARP funds in February 2009, do you have the sense that company is carrying some momentum?

MM: I certainly think so. It's a great story to tell from an employment perspective. We've had sustained financial success. The National City acquisition has been a plus.

KS: Has the bank shrunk or downsized any parts of the business recently?

MM: Not that I can think of, other than the sale of the [Global Investor Servicing] unit.

KS: How would you describe the culture at PNC?

MM: It's a very employee-centric and customer-centric engagement. We engage with Gallup to measure that on a quarterly basis and take those results very, very seriously. That is really the way that PNC is run and a philosophy that they have.

And, as you mentioned, we're headquartered in Pittsburgh, so there is a very Midwest feel of core values to that culture. It's not a New York City/Wall Street headquartered company, so there is a very down-to-earth type of feel. I find it to be a very collaborative environment.

KS: PNC owns a one-quarter stake in BlackRock, do you do any hiring for them?

MM: No. I don't believe we do.

KS: What can we expect to see in the rest of the year?

MM: Our hiring activity is up about 32% year-to-date. We'll have different spikes in different months in terms of what's coming in, but I think we'll probably finish the year around that 30%.

KS: That's net new positions or total hiring?

MM: That's positions we'd like to fill. There's nothing that comes to mind that would be a standout of what's driving that growth. It's across the board.

Write to Kyle Stock

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