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Johnson & Johnson Goes Back to Campus for New Hires

By Lindsay Gellman

At Johnson & Johnson , an experiment in data analytics has sent some recruiters back to campus.

During 2012 and 2013, the health and consumer product giant cut back on hiring fresh college graduates and M.B.A.s for jobs in areas like human resources, information technology and supply-chain management. Instead, managers were directed to tap more-experienced candidates, believing that workers would contribute more quickly and stay on longer, according to Mary Lauria, J&J’s vice president of global talent management.

The result: college hiring fell 10% during 2012-13. The declining numbers caught the attention of the human-resources leaders, and Doug Grant, head of J&J’s then-newly formed people analytics team, who wondered whether recruiters’ hunches about experienced hires were right.

To answer that question, Mr. Grant’s team gathered data on nearly 47,000 employees—both university and experienced hires—and compared performance, the likelihood they would be promoted and attrition levels.

University hires performed about as well as experienced hires did, he said, but the new graduates tended to remain at the company for a significantly longer period overall. (Making a star outside hire did give managers a “sugar high,” said Peter Fasolo, J&J’s top human-resources executive during a speech at a conference in April. He also noted that the greener cohort was also slightly more likely to attain promotions.)

The data, which the analytics team shared with managers internally, “dispelled a myth in our organization,” Mr. Grant said.


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