Case Study: Enbridge Improves Student Hiring with Managed Direct Sourcing

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To bring safe and reliable energy to millions of customers, Enbridge employs more than 12,000 people across North America. A critical component of their staffing strategy is the smooth delivery of the contingent workforce program. 

Leading that program are deeply experienced contingent workforce specialists including Dean Bergen, Manager of Contingent Labour & Consulting and Eric Osterhout, Senior Category Specialist.

From their offices in Calgary and Houston, Dean and Eric are tasked with transforming staffing challenges into business opportunities – it’s what they do best. They patch holes; they fill voids; they solve staffing problems. It’s a well-oiled contingent workforce program with $500 million in annual spend. 

The Opportunity

In early October of 2020, Enbridge’s contingent labor program got a big chance to prove their value. The head of their talent acquisition (TA) team asked Dean: 

Could your contingent labor program manage the hiring of all our student jobs as contractors?

The Plan

First thing first. Dean and Eric knew that if Enbridge’s student hiring was going to be run as a contingent workforce program, they needed a unified and consistent process. While they do have an MSP in place, this wasn’t going to work with multiple suppliers.

Enbridge is an award winning company with a terrific employer value proposition. These students are attracted to working with Enbridge, not a staffing supplier, so Enbridge’s brand had to be front and center in the recruitment process. This was a job for one supplier — and one who was experienced in delivering a direct sourcing solution which consistently and beneficially leverages the employer brand. Only one of Enbridge’s staffing suppliers came to mind — Ian Martin. 

For more than 20 years, Ian Martin has been a close partner for Enbridge, providing both payroll and sourcing services for their Canadian and US operations. Dean and Eric also knew that Ian Martin had a new direct sourcing capability (now under the banner of Raise Recruiting), which they had demonstrated six months earlier.    

Ian Martin’s Director of Enterprise Programs, Robert Poole, alone had seven years experience working with Enbridge and had helped them employ more than 2,200 contingent workers. Dean, Eric and Robert had built a trusted relationship based on open communication. 

“When we look at Ian Martin as a partner, we always know we’re going to get honest feedback about what they can do,” explained Dean. “From the very first conversation about the student hiring we thought Ian Martin was best positioned to own this. They had experience in delivering a Managed Direct Sourcing solution, and we had confidence in their people, process, and technology capabilities.” 

“This was so outside of the box.

We needed a partner to be creative, resourceful and work closely with us to figure it all out.

We completely trusted Ian Martin to do this.”

- Dean Bergen, Manager of Contingent Labour & Consulting

The Solution

The Managed Direct Sourcing (MDS) team devised a comprehensive solution for Enbridge’s student hiring program in just three weeks. “Because of our tight timelines, the MDS team needed to build the airplane as it was already going down the runway,” explained Eric. 

The Managed Direct Sourcing solution

  • A communication plan to work with the varied recruitment processes and timings of all the schools across North America.
  • Creating job ad templates, and four unique application questionnaires that integrated into the applicant tracking system. 
  • Developing an Enbridge-branded student jobs page that linked to the main Enbridge careers site. 
  • For unionized jobs, creating a separate jobs page and recruitment process.
  • Managing all consultative job intake calls with all the hiring managers.
  • Adding one-way recorded video interviews so that hiring managers had more than just resumes to evaluate candidates.
  • Screening and ranking all applicants, then shortlisting the best candidates for hiring managers. 
  • Targeted diversity outreach campaigns with schools, career symposiums, and directly with underrepresented groups. 
  • Developing ways to measure the satisfaction of candidates, schools, and hiring managers to learn what could be improved.

“The MDS team showed great enthusiasm and moved really fast,” said Eric. “They quickly implemented the direct sourcing tech, and worked with our talent acquisition, marketing and legal people to design a great candidate experience for both unionized and regular students that included many improvements.”

“There aren’t many other staffing companies that could have done this, and I don’t think anyone could have done it as quickly.”

- Eric Osterhout, Senior Category Specialist

The Results

The MDS student program created an efficient and effective recruitment funnel for 125 different hiring managers across Enbridge. By the numbers:


The Transformation

Beyond the smooth transition from talent acquisition to contingent labor, the big goal for Dean and Eric was to improve the effectiveness of the student hiring program. Mission accomplished. 

A stakeholder review found that there are at least five areas where beneficial improvements were made by the Managed Direct Sourcing solution.

Improved Candidate Quality & Quantity: 

The MDS team expanded the number of universities and colleges taking part in Enbridge’s student employment program from 24 schools to 47. With more than 3,660 total applications, the pool of students increased dramatically from the previous year. “Adding so many additional schools considerably increased the total number of applications, which meant that we had happy hiring managers with a lot of great students to choose from”, said Dean. 

More Efficient Screening: 

One-way recorded video interviewing was added to the program — with triumph. It enhanced the hiring process as Enbridge’s managers were better able to assess candidates, and do so without any scheduling issues.  “I enjoyed having the video recordings to get a good sense of the students before selecting who to interview,” said one of Enbridge’s hiring managers. “The video pre-interview was really beneficial,” said another.

Saved Hiring Managers’ Time: 

The consultative approach to hiring and providing shortlists of candidates brought clear efficiency gains to Enbridge’s hiring managers. Instead of being handed resumes to sort through, they received only the best-fit students. This gave hiring managers their valuable time back. “They definitely minimized the effort on my side,” said one hiring manager. 

Used Best-in-Class Technology: 

The use of specialized direct sourcing technology was also a clear improvement, as there were integrated application questionnaires for more efficient tracking, and SMS/text messaging which provided highly responsive communication. “I am favorably impressed with the direct sourcing technology”,  said Eric. “It looked slick, worked well, and has advanced features.”

Increased Diversity: 

A lot of Enbridge’s great success has been due to their diverse and inclusive workplace. The MDS team built diversity strategies and tracking into their program’s delivery. The results were impressive — 62% of the hires identified as being from a visible minority and 37% were women, which is quite good for a male-dominated industry. 

The Next Chapter

When faced with the monumental task of running their student hiring as a contingent labor program, Enbridge’s leaders turned to Managed Direct Sourcing (MDS) as a completely outsourced solution. 

Under tight time constraints, MDS was not only able to hire 168 students from diverse backgrounds–the majority of which started on the same day– but the program realized clear benefits and improvements.

There were also strategic and transformational benefits for Enbridge. “Using Managed Direct Sourcing for the student program got us out of the weeds, and gave us a more strategic view,” explained Dean. 

“Previously, TA was so busy recruiting that they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Now they’re able to see all these ways the student program can be extended to build a stronger pipeline of future permanent hires, and improve recognition of the Enbridge brand with the next generation of workers.”

With the successful first year behind them, the Enbridge and MDS partnership is planning many improvements. This was a big first step for Enbridge’s Student Contractor Program, yet the sights are even higher for next year.  

For Dean, outsourcing the student program was a “gamechanger”, and Eric nicely summarized the plan for Enbridge: “Direct sourcing is the future, and we are all over it.”

“Direct sourcing is the future, and we are all over it.”

- Eric Osterhout, Senior Category Specialist
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