Q&A: JPMorgan's head of global alumni relations explains why JPMorgan would like to hire its alums, or people recommended by them

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Having visited JPMorgan's website and observed the prominence being given to its alumni portal, we asked Catherine Coluzzi, executive director and head of global alumni relations at the bank whether it's got a renewed push to hire alums. This is what she told us:

Q: We noticed JPMorgan is giving a lot of prominence to its alumni programme on its website, how long have you had this for?

Catherine: We officially launched Continuum, our alumni portal, back in April 2008. However, we haven’t done a lot of marketing for it – it’s mostly spread by word of mouth and people being informed when they leave the firm.

Q: How many alumni does JPMorgan have?

Catherine: We don’t usually give out a specific figure, but there are hundreds of thousands of people who’ve worked for JPMorgan around the world, and all are eligible to join the site.

Q: How many alumni are on Continuum at the moment?

Catherine: We have almost 20,000 people who are using the site actively right now.

Q: If I were an alumni and I came to the site, what would I see?

Catherine: Lots of things! The site’s built a little like a social networking site, so you can build and see your own profile. You can pursue networking opportunities with other alumni – and we have a very robust search engine to help you find people by name or department.

We also advertise some of our job openings for mid-level and senior hires. We have a news digest, and we run ‘Alum Spotlights,’ where we look at alums who’ve gone off and done something a little unusual like setting up a clothing company. Plus we have links to JPMorgan’s economic research. There’s some really great content.

Q: Do you fill many of your vacancies thorough Continuum?

Catherine: Absolutely. We’ve only just started tracking this, but in the last 18 months we had over 100 hires who were either alums or who’d been referred by alums. That’s a pretty good success rate.

Q: Is there any advantage to hiring alumni – or people who’ve been referred by alumni?

Catherine: Yes, there’s plenty of research to back this up. It’s commonly known that alums are good rehires: they tend to stay longer on average, theyramp up to speed in their new roles faster and tend to be higher performers. They know the firm and are a good fit.

Q: Does this apply equally to people referred by alums?

Q: Can you give an example of someone you’ve hired through Continuum?Catherine: Yes. People who are alums – or current employees – will typically refer people they have confidence in. You therefore tend to get a more talented pool coming from alums or as referrals from current employees.

Catherine: I’m a good example. I worked for the firm as a banker and left to spend time for my family before coming back. At that time we didn’t have an alumni programme, so I started it from scratch for the firm. It was a lot easier for me to come back to JPMorgan than to go somewhere else. I already knew people here and people knew me. It made a big difference.