Future You podcast transcript

Successful job applications (with Enterprise)

Dan Mason, Editorial manager
July, 2021

In this episode of Future You, Clare Beynon from Enterprise Rent-A-Car provides some reassurance to those concerned about their lack of work experience during the pandemic - you can still show that you're the right person for that graduate job you want


In order of first appearance:

  • Dan Mason - editorial manager, Prospects
  • Clare Beynon - talent acquisition marketing manager, Enterprise

Episode transcript

 Dan Mason: Are you concerned that the lack of work experience opportunities during the pandemic will impact on your CV? In this episode of Future You a leading graduate employer explains why you shouldn't be worried and how to impress in your job applications.

Hello, and welcome to Future You the podcast from graduate careers experts Prospects, we're here to help you achieve your career goals. My name is Dan Mason. And this episode features my conversation with Clare Beynon from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, a major employer of graduates in the UK. In this interview, which we recorded last month in June, we really focus on the application process, and Clare provides some great advice on how to really catch the attention of recruiters when you're applying for jobs, and some tips on things to avoid as well. She also offers some reassurance and guidance for those of you who have missed out on work experiences over the last year and a half due to the impact of the pandemic, and why you shouldn't be too worried about those gaps in your CV, because, of course employers know they will be there they understand the situation and there are, as Clare explains, plenty of other ways that you can show off, why you're the right person for the job. Clare then talks about the promote from within culture at Enterprise so if you're looking for a graduate job with strong long-term career development prospects, this may be one for you, as well.

Clare Beynon: My name is Clare Beynon, and I'm the talent acquisition manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, UK and Ireland. So I lead on early careers and really the marketing team that are responsible for attracting the best and brightest talent to many opportunities. So that's just a little bit about me. And in terms of Enterprise, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is the world's largest mobility transport provider, part of the Enterprise Holdings Group that owns brands such as National, Alamo, Car Club, Flex-E-Rent, just to name but a few. But just to give you a scale of our operation, we have over 80,000 employees operating in over 9,000 locations across the world. So quite as you can see very big company with lots of opportunities and our growth has really been down to our award winning customer service delivered by the fantastic employees that we hire.

Dan Mason: Fantastic. And so what are the opportunities that are available for new graduates at Enterprise?

Clare Beynon: Yeah, I would say the main opportunities would be on our management training programme, we have a really large intake, actually, we hire probably around 800 to 1,000 graduates a year, on our programme. We don't have a cut off, we do promote all year round. And the role in essence is learning the business from the ground up before being able to run your own business at Enterprise, your own branch. We have a very strong promote from within culture, which really creates lots of opportunities within the business. And as you develop within the business, you can then really move forward either on that linear path of operations, or you can diversify your career in different parts of the business.

Dan Mason: So I'd like to focus a bit now on applications, the application process, and especially at the moment when students, graduates have had a really tricky 12 to 18 months, lack of work experience available, that kind of thing. So we'll talk a bit about that. So just to start off, what is your application process? What are the stages involved in that?

Clare Beynon: Absolutely. So firstly, please visit careers.enterprise.co.uk and there you will find our career site. And on that site, you will see lots of content, blogs, videos, really listening to our employees who work for the business today. So I think firstly, that's a great, a great resource. You'll see there there is an online application that you would need to complete. And that's, yeah, that's your opportunity to really kind of stand out from any other applicants. So it does go into a bit of detail there about your your experience and your education. You will then probably be invited on a call with one of our recruiters who, we call it a phone screen so they'll typically maybe ask you questions like why did you decide to apply for Enterprise and really confirm some of the basic requirements of the role. And that call probably just takes maybe five or ten minutes, it's really short. And if they feel good about your application, they will then invite you to a recruiter interview, which will take typically around about 45 minutes. It is a competency-based, behavioural questions are asked around our six core competencies. So typically, the questions will be 'tell me about a time when', and all the questions we ask will be around those six competencies.

So just to share what those competencies are. Customer service, as I've mentioned before, is really important to us. We assess on sales aptitude, we do recognise that grads aren't going to have lots of sales experience, but we look for potential. Other competencies, communication, flexibility, work ethic and leadership. So you will be asked during that recruiter interview, which will be on Teams, questions around those competencies. Now, if you're successful at that stage, we will then invite you to the final stage of our process, which will be a branch visit. So you get to go to one of our locations. And I just think this is a great part of our recruitment process because this is not just as assessing you. But this is really you assessing us to see if this is an environment that you feel you could work in, you get to talk to employees in the business today on the programme, you get to kind of experience what the typical day might look like. And it's really an opportunity for you to ask questions. Once you've been in the branch and shadowing some of the team there, you then will have an interview with the hiring manager, which will be the area manager. So you will have then another competency-based interview, which again, will probably last about an hour with the hiring manager. Now if successful, we will then offer you the position from there. So there's no assessment centres, no psychometric testing, it's quite a, you know, a very simple process that really works for us.

Dan Mason: Sighs of relief from graduates everywhere as you say no assessment centres. But like, like lots of graduate jobs it's quite an extensive process. You know, lots of different stages, though that, the branch visit sounds really interesting at the end there. But through that process, what are the things that can make a good candidate really stand out to you what, what are you looking for throughout that application process, what can graduates do to really impress?

Clare Beynon: That's a really great question and I actually reflect on myself when I left university, and I can totally kind of see why graduates might do this but for me, I did apply for lots of opportunities. I used the same CV, the same application and I now realise that was my biggest mistake. And really, you're better to maybe go for less opportunities, but really take the time to prepare for that application. So preparation, I cannot emphasise how important it is for you to do your research. Really look at the the organisation look at, like I said, our website, there's some great information, resources on there, LinkedIn, again, another great way to really kind of have a feel for the company, and what's important to us. And then as you're completing that online application, really sort of tailor that application to the values of the company, what's important, you know, I've mentioned customer service is really important to us at Enterprise. So really kind of make sure that you talk about any experience that you have either dealing with a customer or internally, you may have maybe been part of a society and you can talk about how your members were your customers.

So really looking at those transferable skills that you've got that you can really emphasise on during the application. Yeah, as I said, I think it's really important, you can really tell when a candidate has done their research and really kind of mentions that during their application, they've took time, they've took effort to really get everything across that they want to. I would also say, as always that additional information box that we have that on our application. And again, I think the grads that maybe don't make the most of that, that box, that really don't really fill that much in, I think, again, understandably, maybe you feel it's not as important as maybe talking about your experience. But this, this part of the application really allows us to get a feel for you as a person, what's your, what are your interests? What do you like to do? Again, just make the most of every part of the application because again, if you leave that blank, or maybe just put up just a couple of sentences in, then it really just doesn't really show us that you've really took the time to really, really think about how much you can share in that application. So preparation, really important. And I would say just making the most of the application that you make.

Dan Mason: Absolutely. And so obviously, in telling us what impresses you, you've sort of given us an idea of where other applications don't quite make the cut because, you know, it's obviously not doing the things you've explained there. But is there anything else you could pinpoint as to things not to do, things to avoid in applications, whichever stage of that process is maybe at the interview, or whatever it might be?

Clare Beynon: Yeah well of course, sort of I guess the opposite to what I've just mentioned, just make sure you don't do all of those things. But I would also say, just know the company that you've applied to, you know, sometimes, sometimes we do see on applications, text that may refer to a different company name, so maybe it's been a bit of a copy and paste application, and therefore, you know, it's those kind of really take the time and, and the care really checking what you've written, because sometimes that one mistake could really be, you know, really detrimental to your, to your application, even though the rest might be great, just really sort of take that time. And I think during the interview process, you know, the, the one of the first questions we would ask is tell me, you know, tell me why you've applied for Enterprise? or How much do you know about Enterprise? And I think, again, that really tells, that really tells you how much research that that candidate's done. So I think, you know, if the candidate is asking us questions, like, tell me a little bit about what you do, or I think, then clearly, they haven't done that research. And I think, I think, again, those questions we'll ask around those six competencies, I really recommend that, you know the competencies ahead of time, I've named them today. And you really think of the examples that you have in your previous experience that can really tell a story about how you've experienced being in a leadership role, or how you've experienced maybe demonstrating your sales and persuasion skills. If you, if you're asked a question and you really struggle for an answer, just say, look, can I come back to it rather than just not answering the question? Because sometimes, as we all know, you go blank in an interview, and sometimes it's really hard. And you, you know, please leave the door open in that interview to make sure that you do, you do go back to it, and you really let the recruiter be able to go back to that question that can then hopefully, you come up with an answer and that's absolutely fine to do that.

Dan Mason: Yeah, and just to just to finish this section on applications, is there anything you can say, particularly to graduates this year who have gone through this this last year of there hasn't been work experience available? Maybe their study has been affected, maybe they're demotivated by by everything that's been going on. Are you making different allowances in your application process for that? How are you attempting to, you know, make sure that graduates still have the opportunities, despite you know, everything that's affected them?

Clare Beynon: Totally, please be reassured that we are not expecting wide and Vast work experience, particularly over the last 12 to 18 months, we really look at how you have taken the experience that you've got and really identify those transferable skills. So like I mentioned, you may be in a society that just operated virtually over, over lockdown. It may be that you are in a you know, a sports team, it's really looking at we do understand you haven't got a lot of work experience, particularly in the last 18 months. Obviously prior to that, please expand and talk about it. But it's how well does that candidate really think about all the extra-curricular experiences that they've had in their personal life or within the university and education life and just really identify those transferable skills that they've been able to demonstrate. And that takes a little bit of thought, a little bit of self-reflection. But they're, they're the candidates that really do succeed.

Dan Mason: Brilliant, and hopefully, that's quite reassuring, as well to to listeners. Just quickly, if we could talk about a couple of areas that we know from our own surveys are very important to graduates. First of those is the amount of support and training that they'll get in a new role. What, what is available Enterprise in that in that regard?

Clare Beynon: Yeah, it's all about development at Enterprise. I mean, that's, you join to really reach your potential on our programme. And really, I would say about support starts during the process, during the application process, one new initiative that we've introduced over the last I would say three to four months has been drop-in sessions for candidates. So this has been really a new initiative that we've never done before. And we really decided to take advantage of the virtual world we're living in so any candidate at any part of the process can attend a drop in session. And that drop in session will allow you to learn a little bit more about Enterprise. But also, we do share really good hints and tips on how to really do well at each step of the the interview process. But also, in addition to that, we bring in branch managers, area managers who have started on the programme to talk about their experiences. Typically, those representatives from Enterprise may be part of like the Diversity Committee within their region. So they talk a lot also about some of the extra-curricular support you can have and projects you can get involved in. And I think those sessions have been really outstanding in terms of the attendance. So I think, you know, even before they start, they feel they're meeting  employees in the business, they're understanding a little bit more about our culture, and it's very relaxed. So I feel that, you know, you can certainly ask questions that you might not ask in an interview. And we get lots of questions from candidates. So I think the support really starts really at that point to help the candidate. Once you are offered a position, you'll be assigned, certainly a buddy at the branch that you work at. So you've got somebody that you will shadow you and support you, certainly within the first few months of joining the company just so you can, you know, always ask them questions, and they'll always be there to support you. You typically start in a peer group, in a training group, that's, the size of that group can range but typically, on average, it might be sort of 10 to 12 new hires that might start at the same time. And I think that peer to peer support is really important, too.

So you do start on an online training programme, where you have a combination of the online training and going into the branch to sort of demonstrate the skills that you've learned. So I think that's really nice that you really have that support from each other, and also from the trainer, as the training programme you're on is designed to last around about ten months, and you really get a real structured roadmap that supports you in your learning. I would say at the time, so when you go into the branch, you certainly will have daily coaching and regular feedback from the team, we're all about obviously, once we set the kind of clear expectations of the role, we're all about that kind of constructive feedback that makes you better and helps you develop. Certainly that is regular and often in the branch, by the assistant typically your branch manager. You'll also be in a one-to-one with your branch manager every month. And that one-to-one typically starts with a you know, 'how are you?' kind of conversation just to check in and just gives you an opportunity to get that one-to-one time with your branch manager. But then we'll go through kind of how you're progressing and your performance. And again, it's a great opportunity to have that coaching and development one-to-one that you might not get, you know, in a typical day when it's busy in the branch.

In addition to that, as I mentioned before, there's lots of diversity committees or charity committees that you can be part of, working in the community is really important to us. And there's lots of opportunities, where you know, we can get you involved in anything that you might be interested in, whether it's around charity work, or parts of the race equality team, or the gender equality team, or the LGBTQ+ team. There's lots of other support networks that we have within the company. And I think just also just to remember that because we have that promote from within culture, everyone's been in your shoes, everybody has had the experience that you've had, and have made the mistakes that you've made. And it's ok to make mistakes, because you learn from them. So I think that's just really nice to kind of feel that we've all been there. And I think naturally, the support is maybe a little bit different because it's much more relatable when you're communicating with your team and your management team. So yeah, that just kind of maybe gives you just some examples of the the training and support that you get.

Dan Mason: Fantastic. So it sounds really comprehensive. And you've mentioned within that various committees and teams around diversity and inclusivity. And is there anything more that you could add to that in terms of right through from the application process through to you know, being in the role, about how Enterprise really promotes that culture of diversity?

Clare Beynon: Yeah, really, really important. We want to have, our branches that Enterprise are in the local towns, not just cities and airports, but there we have a really wide and far branch network across the UK and Ireland. And it's really important that our workforce mirrors the communities that we operate in. We can bring diversity of thought into the organisation. We just have that competitive edge if we have a diverse, really diverse workforce that mirrors those communities. And that is so critical  to us, and we, you know, certainly from a marketing perspective, we do share lots of different sort of projects, initiatives that we work on to really attract students from many different backgrounds to our opportunities. But once you're in the process, I would say, for example, our recruiters will share stories we'll share, we have a diversity magazine Drive, we might share with candidates just so they get a feel for maybe some of the stories of our employees. Again, the website, I think I'm referring back to it again, but our careers website is just outstanding with sharing all the work we do around diversity.

You know, even just this last week, you know, we've done a lot of work, but you know, it's Pride Month in June, and we've done a lot with different universities and working and partnering with different organizations just to, to kind of get into those different spaces. So yeah, I think, you know, you can't put your finger on culture necessarily, it's really hard to kind of say, how do you build a culture within a company, but I think it's, is that top down, it's important to our leadership team. And it's really that top down, commitment and importance and we have, as I said, a real wide network of diversity groups, and they all interconnect and work together. And it's just really, yeah, it's just like, there's always like lunch and learn, sessions that you can join. There's, there's lots of different sort of support that we have throughout the year, we have great allyship within the groups, and, you know, everyone gets together and really supports the core. So it's, it's really yeah, it's really, really nice culture to be pumped to be part of.

Dan Mason: Brilliant, and just finally, then there's a phrase you used earlier, and it comes to this issue of, or the topic of career progression, and that was promote from within. Could you just tell us a bit about what that actually means in practice that differentiates it from other employers maybe? And how important that is to Enterprise and what it means for people in these new graduate roles?

Clare Beynon: Yeah, absolutely. It's, it's really unique. And, you know, I think most grads might start a company and think, well I'll be maybe there for a year or two, I'll kind of see how I go when, you know, maybe we'll kind of refresh and see what else is out there. It's, and I understand it, that's, you know, just kind of human nature, you just don't know. And you're not necessarily on-boarded fully into the company until you maybe you've been there a little while. But yeah, after you've completed your training, so I've talked about the training programme, you then progress to the next stage, which would be an assistant branch and branch manager, where we have a very defined linear path, all the way through to being a regional director. And, you know, if we're looking for a branch manager, we won't look externally, we look at our, our own employees, our own workforce, and, you know, the best performer will get the position irrespective of whether you've been here two years, five years, it is around performance. And, you know, if you perform well, you'll get, you'll get that next opportunity.

But what I would say is that when you get to that branch manager level within the organisation, and behind all of that, by the way, there's robust training and development opportunities, after the management training programme, so we have leadership development programmes, management programmes, so there's a lot of development, you'll get ongoing past branch manager. But once you get to that branch manager position, you can diversify your career enterprise. And you can branch off into other parts of the business like HR, commercial sales, vehicle acquisitions where you can part of a team that buys our vehicles, we've got a remarketing team that sells our vehicles. So we've really got lots of opportunities in the organisation where you can move around, and really, potentially, maybe take a sidestep to move forward. As opposed to maybe staying just in operations. Now what I would say is the majority of opportunities are in operations because that's our you know, that's our network, that's our company it's Enterprise and that's where most of our workforce are but if you did want to you can, you can take on other positions. So I think that's, it's really good because, you know, you can really kind of create your own destiny at Enterprise. You know, everyone's career path is a little bit different. Everyone likes to talk about their journey. And it really allows you to reach your, your full potential. You know, for me, I graduated in HR, I didn't necessarily want to work in HR, I wanted to join a programme that was very diverse, very general management. And it allowed me to really explore different parts of a business and get a feel for, you know, where my skillset lies. And then actually, I ended up going back into sort of, well going into training and development and HR. But then I did then go back into operations. So my career path has been here, there and everywhere. But that's the beauty of the company is you can move around and, and explore opportunities, and you get lots of support along the way. So I just think that's really unique. And, you know, when I thought I might be Enterprise for a couple years, I'm now nearly 19 years at the company. And I'm still here, and you'll kind of see that for most of our, our senior leadership team, you know, we just don't ever leave because it's like, you know, it's, it's, you know, it's like, it's like moving around to different companies, but you're in the same business, because it's such a, you know, there's lots of opportunities that are available to you.

Dan Mason: Yeah, and great, like you say, to have both the chance to take that linear path. But also, if that's not for you, then you can, you know, as you said make sidesteps to move forward. So both those options are available to you.

Clare Beynon: Absolutely.

Dan Mason: Brilliant. Well, Clare, thanks so much for your time, and thanks for joining us.

Clare Beynon: No problem. Thank you.

Dan Mason: Thanks very much again to Clare for that, in particular for the insights on applications. Don't forget to search and apply for graduate jobs with top employers like Enterprise, head to prospects.ac.uk, where you can also find plenty more advice on job applications, and much more. You can follow and listen to future you on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you choose to listen to podcasts on. Or find us prospects.ac.uk/podcasts where you can also find transcripts of the episodes. Do share the podcast with anyone you know who might find it helpful. And you can also get in touch with comments, feedback or suggestions, just email podcast@prospects.ac.uk. That's it for this episode. Thanks again for listening, and I'll see you soon.

Transcript ends

Note on transcripts

This transcript was produced using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. The audio version is definitive and should be checked before quoting.

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