Published on 02 October 2023
TV talent show The Voice has inspired a University of Sunderland Business School trial that connects job-seeking students to their future employers - replacing singing with CVs.
Five local employers were invited to take part in the inaugural ‘Employee Voice’ and become ‘judges’ for the day, with their own version of the infamous swivel chairs, this time determining the future of students pitching to work for them. They included Hays Travel, Northumberland NHS Health Care Trust, CAT and the University of Sunderland itself.
The rationale behind the trial was to bring together Business School students seeking employment opportunities and local employers who have potential vacancies, in a fun and informal way, to successfully meet the needs of both parties.
‘Employee Voice’ saw the ‘employer’ sit on a swivel chair alongside other employers with their back to the students, similar to the TV show. The students then took it in turn to do an elevator style self-promotional pitch to the employers.
When the employer felt that the student had the skills the company was looking for, they turned their chair. A private pre-interview-style meeting between the employer and the student then took place later that day.
If the employers didn't turn for students, they were still given their CVs to consider. All students were observed by University staff from the Business School and provided with individual feedback.
Dr Kym Drady, Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management, who helped organise ‘Employee Voice’, said: “The event went well and exceeded our expectations.All students had at least one employer turn their chairs for them, and many students had two or three employers turn.
“All five employers turned for three of the 14 students who pitched.
Each employer that turned for a student, then did a pre-selection interview with them one-to-one in the afternoon.”
Feedback from the employers included:
Johnney Reardon, People Acquisition Manager at the University of Sunderland, said: “I really enjoyed it, the students should be proud of themselves. Turning-the-back concept works, it really forces you to concentrate on what people are saying.”
Amelia Beaumont HR Partner at the University of Sunderland, added: Well done to the students, this event provided a great networking opportunity.”
Jon Clappison, HR Talent Partner, at CAT said: “This was a great event, just listening takes out unconscious bias.”
Alex MacKenzie, Northumberland NHS Health Care Trust, commented: “Really well done to all those involved, voice tones were really great, it will be good to have different areas and specialties involved next time.”
Rachel Lovstad, of Hays Travel, added: “This was a fantastic way to get to know the person beyond the CV, I loved it!”
All employers intend to offer formal interviews to some or all of the students they turned for. The Business School also now plans to hold another larger event in the new year, with more employers and more students.
Bambe Modoluwamu, a MSc Human Resource Management student, wants to work in HR, but also has her own business developing a Wellbeing Application for use in organisations. She says: “This event was very insightful, it was helpful as well. The employers involved in the activity were kind and the meeting was well planned.”
Tourism student Nhan Nguyen (Nathan) said: “This event was good, and all the information that I was provided in advance was helpful. The employers were great and this will help me in the future."
Egwenu Goodness Ifeoma, added: “The opportunity this event brought me cannot be over-emphasised, this was the best employer event I have been part of. I would recommend everyone attends and puts themselves in front of others. Thank you to the great team behind the idea.”