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Cosmetics company's program boosts recruitment

By Xing Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-17 07:20
Gao Lingjie (left), a postgraduate student of Nanjing University, is offered a management trainee job by Lan Zhenzhen (right), vice-president of L'Oreal China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

During the National Day holiday week when most of Gao Lingjie's classmates engaged themselves in uploading CVs on job-seeking platforms or preparing to traipse around campus recruitment fairs for a satisfactory job offer, the 23-year-old could lean back and chill-out as she had already settled the matter of future prospects.

The postgraduate's outstanding performance at the 2018 L'Oreal China on-Campus Charity Sale has secured her the opportunity to be a management trainee with the French cosmetics giant after her graduation from Nanjing University next year.

The annual event, in which students organize their own sales force and sell beauty products to their peers and teachers was launched by L'Oreal China and the China Youth Development Foundation, also known as CYDF, in 2003. The L'Oreal group also sent mentors to train the novice salespeople and help them devise marketing strategies and set up sales counters.

According to Yang Chunlei, deputy secretary-general of CYDF, over the past 16 years, the event has taken place in 27 Chinese universities, including Peking University, Fudan University, Zhejiang University and Nanjing University. The charity campaign has donated a sum of 33 million yuan ($4.8 million) to around 5,000 poor college students.

However, this year marked the first time the company tied the charity activity to its campus recruitment plans.

"We found many students who once volunteered in the on-campus charity sale wanted to apply to be an intern or a management trainee with the company," says Lan Zhenzhen, vice-president of L'Oreal China. "We began to use the event as a new recruiting channel to spur on those young participants."

Students who stood out in the activity could get a pass card to interview for the company's summer intern program, ensuring that they wouldn't get missed by HR in the flood of resumes that the HR team receives.

"It's a great opportunity for university students to fit in with the needs of the world of work," says Gao. "When we were selling cosmetic products during the activity, we were actually selling ourselves to L'Oreal."

The advertising major went through a tense few months in this spring, gathering teammates and running warm-ups for the final pop-up store, online and offline. She and her team finally raised over 300,000 yuan of the total 3.5 million yuan revenue garnered by this year's program.

"The campaign tested our marketing skills and problem-solving abilities, and the sales volume was like a sort of KPI (key performance indicator)," she says. "It encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and offered us a stage to show our mettle and be seen by potential employers, while skipping the conventional recruiting process."

"It's a win-win approach to promote their idea of charity and hire high-quality employees," says Lan Zhenzhen. "I hope we can encourage more young people to join the campaign and enjoy the useful social experience that the platform provides."

For Sichuan University senior, Li Yanliu, the experience in on-campus charity sales helped her to develop a deeper understanding of the "new retail" concept.

"Even on a small campus, there are customers from different age groups. We have to foresee their demands and hold some orchestrated promotional activities to attract a certain target group, giving them both an in-shop and an online purchase experience," says the 21-year-old, adding that the event sparked her interest in marketing and gave her a clear direction for her future career.

To gear up for the opening of their L'Oreal pop-up store, Li's team ran a series of warm-up activities, like free makeovers across the three campuses of the university. They even visited a nearby primary school to distribute handmade gifts and brochures on June 1, Children's Day in China.

Guan Zhiwei, a student at the school of business and management at Shanghai International Studies University, also tried to switch his perspective from that of a consumer to that of a seller during the activity.

"The sale exposed us to the society and market, which differs from the activities inaugurated by the student union," says Guan. "I was better able to exploit the chance of networking during the nationwide campaign."

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