Your Story: Graduate Recruiter of the Year

Giselle Ras, Senior Young Talent Sourcing Specialist at FNB has been nominated among the top three for SAGEA’s Graduate Recruiter of the Year Award for the last seven years and won the award in 2019 and 2021, respectively.  Sharing her story lends insight to Giselle’s success.

Growing up in Bloemfontein, Giselle completed a BCom in Human Resources and Honours in Industrial Psychology and Psychometrics at the University of the Free State.  She worked as an Intern at the University before heading off to Johannesburg to seek her fortune.  She struggled to secure a employment and was desperately unhappy in her first job in Johannesburg, returning to Bloemfontein after six months.

Once back home, she was employed by the FNB branch in Bloemfontein and worked in recruitment for a year before being seconded to Johannesburg for a three-month period.  It was during this time that she happened to be in an office space near the Young Talent team.  She overheard that the team were looking to grow and immediately applied for the position which she was successful in securing.

She admits that she was initially intimidated by both the environment and her exceptionally smart colleagues!  Thrown in at the deep end, she was required to attend Career Fairs in other parts of the country and had never been on an aeroplane, hired a car or stayed in a hotel by herself!  With the right amount of nurturing, mentorship and support from her team, Giselle quickly found her feet and feels she had the opportunity to “learn from the best in the business.”

There are many aspects of her role that Giselle enjoys – the multi-faceted nature of her work affords exposure to assessments, learning and development, project and event management, and psychometrics.  No day is ever the same – there are always opportunities to get involved in new projects such as virtual internships, virtual career fairs, learning new tools and methods of doing things.

Giselle attributes much of her success as a Graduate Recruiter to the very challenges she experienced prior to joining FNB as a Psychometrist.  Having experienced rejection, disappointment, and, at times, questioning her degree choice has enabled her to empathise with the graduates who apply to FNB.  Her experience has shaped how she treats graduates.  Giselle ensures that she communicates with applicants on a regular basis, that she is accessible to them, approachable and sincere.  She works hard to ensure quick turnaround times and is always mindful of giving honest and constructive feedback to FNB’s graduate applicants.

Achieving the high standards of relationship building that Giselle manages is no mean feat given the numbers she shared.  FNB receives more than 25 000 applications for 150 graduate positions, per annual cycle.  All applications were screened, around 1 100 students were assessed, she conducted 350 one-on-one interviews and placed as many as 90 graduates in the 2021 graduate recruitment cycle.  Giselle also maintains accurate records using Excel so that she is quickly able to answer any questions about where a graduate is in the FNB process.

Giselle feels privileged to be in a position that affords her the opportunity to change other people’s lives and be part of their story.  Many graduates have overcome incredible challenges and difficult circumstances to obtain a degree – being able to offer sometimes life-changing work opportunities to graduates who are sometimes first-in-family and to watch them blossom and progress within the bank gives Giselle all the satisfaction and motivation she needs.  She has learned to really listen to what the graduates tell her so that she knows what is or is not working and can continually improve FNB’s candidate experience.

When asked how she keeps abreast of best practice and trends in Young Talent, Giselle spoke about the significance of her SAGEA network, attending events, webinars and building relationships with university colleagues and solution providers.  Staying on-trend in the Psychometric and Assessment space means keeping up with CPD’s via the HSRC. 

Giselle is also a working Mum so having time to spend with family is critical.  She attributes the balance to “a lot of grace – when it is time to work, work hard, work smart and maintain efficiency.  And when it is time for family put the devices away, be present and focus on those interactions”vir.

Last, but not least, I asked Giselle about her biggest dream for the future of Young Talent in South Africa.  She believes in the value of empowerment through knowledge and education.  She despairs for the many unemployed in South Africa and for students who have, through no fault of their own, studied towards a degree that is not relevant.  Creating meaningful job opportunities and being able to make a dent in youth unemployment would be a dream come true.