Case Study: Bechtel Demonstrates Alumni Program Value with 25% Rehires 

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Since 2020 we’ve had the pleasure of working with Bechtel, a trusted engineering, construction and project management partner to industry and government. This case study will outline how Bechtel focuses on the recruitment of boomerangs as one of their top corporate alumni program goals.

Bechtel’s Corporate Alumni Program 

Bechtel has long valued their corporate alumni program and partnered with PeoplePath to further enhance their alumni outreach. “Alumni are entrenched in our business model,” says Ellen Shaker, Bechtel’s Operations Manager in Talent Acquisition, and person responsible for the program’s development. “Our alumni can work in a variety of different conditions, and they know all of the challenges to expect on the job in ways other candidates might not,” she says of why alumni are so important to their recruitment strategy.  

The Bechtel Alumni Network team is comprised of three people with split-roles that touch various aspects of the program. The company also invites current employees to participate, and they get added automatically to the network when they start, aiding in employer branding and awareness.  

Bechtel alumni portal screenshotWhen Bechtel came to PeoplePath they were seeking more flexibility, the ability to communicate with their alumni, and better data management. “Previously, we didn’t have a direct connection between our HR system – SAP, and the platform, and the sign-up process for alumni was very manual,” said Ellen. PeoplePath was able to integrate systems allowing for data to flow, and automated previously tedious tasks, which enabled Ellen’s team to focus on what was most important – their alumni. Now able to use their time effectively, they’re producing some incredible results.  

25% of Bechtel’s New Hires Were Boomerangs in 2022 

Bechtel’s clients want the deep industry knowledge that the company has long been known for. “We heavily target alumni as they have the unique knowledge and expertise we need,” Ellen pointed out when discussing their overall strategy. “We’ve always had a high rate compared to industry organic outreach, but our member base has grown exponentially since the switch to the PeoplePath platform.”  

Having a larger pool of engaged alumni helps when you’re actively sharing available opportunities through a job board directly in the alumni platform. Many of Bechtel’s alumni apply to open roles directly through the platform, or they learn more through the job listing, and then apply directly on Bechtel’s main career website. Tracking takes place in both locations. 

These last few years have been an important time for Bechtel’s recruitment, following the pandemic slowdown. Ellen shared, “Hiring exploded last year compared to previous years. It was a concerted effort to identify and hire alumni because we were coming out of years where we had to reduce, and there was always a plan to bring previous employees back to Bechtel.” Out of the more than 4,100 new hires Bechtel recruited in 2022, over 1,000 were alumni rehires, or boomerangs. The trend continues in 2023 with 22 percent of this year’s hires as boomerangs at the end of the first quarter.  

How does this translate into impact for the organization? Bechtel promotes job openings through a variety of channels, including LinkedIn, Indeed, and employee referrals. “Comparing the direct costs between those sources and alumni, alumni recruitment costs 34 percent less—saving the company valuable resources,” said Ellen. 

The rehires are a mix of full-time and part-time roles. The type of projects Bechtel delivers can last many years, and often have some of the largest-scale projects in the world that have been ongoing since the 1970s.  

“Comparing the direct costs between [other] sources and alumni, alumni recruitment costs 34 percent less—saving the company valuable resources.”

Ellen Shaker, Operations Manager in Talent Acquisition at Bechtel

1 in 3 Boomerangs Were Active in the Alumni Community at the Time of Hire 

There are typically three benefits of a corporate alumni program and companies decide which one is the most important early on. These goals are traditionally talent acquisition, business development, and brand awareness. However, achieving these business goals doesn’t just happen. It takes strong strategy, consistent communications, well defined processes, thoughtful events, and robust analytics all dedicated to supporting the primary goal.  

Bechtel’s primary goal has been talent acquisition right from the start, and their content and event strategy supports this goal. Initially they were seeking a platform that was able to communicate externally with their alumni, as their current internal communications tool only works for contacting current employees and not former. 

Active alumni at the time of rehire graph“We now have more communications support in the platform and can produce more engaging content, such as newsletters, career fair notifications, and other articles. We also are hosting about 40 career events globally per year and can now target and segment alumni in geographic areas and by expertise for these events,” says Ellen when describing how they keep alumni engaged throughout the year.  

Of the alumni that have been rehired, 1 in 3 were active in the alumni community at the time that they were hired. They were actively utilizing the various features of the platform from reading articles, to perusing opportunities, attending events, and keeping up-to-date with other alumni.  

When managing a corporate alumni program with a specific goal, Ellen says that “the ability to track and get meaningful metrics for our business has been super helpful for us.” 

Overall Results 

In our 2022 Corporate Alumni Benchmarking Report we found that on average companies are seeing 8 percent of their hires be rehires. However, that number can be up to 20 percent or more when providing additional support either at the time of exit in the career transition and offboarding stage, or through engagement in a corporate alumni program. Bechtel’s success speaks to having a very clear business driving goal and working to support that goal through a strong content and event strategy with the right partner.   

Choosing a vendor that understands your needs and has the technical ability to make things easier is extremely important. Making the wrong choice can be costly both in time and resources. At PeoplePath we believe lifelong relationships are the foundation for mutual success. We are happy to provide a flexible and powerful platform to aid in delivering these kinds of results, and work with our clients to continuously improve.   

Thank you to Bechtel for sharing their story with us. If you’d like to see the PeoplePath platform in action, please contact us to schedule a demo today.

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