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Alumnus Transforms Career and Finds Success in Talent Acquisition

With an undergraduate degree in history and graduate degree in higher education and student affairs from Salem State, Mike Vella ’05, ‘08G spent time as a high school teacher and college advisor after graduation. Since then, he has transformed his career and become a successful senior talent acquisition manager at UniFirst, a leading supplier of uniforms, workwear and facility service.

The fast pace of talent acquisition is something that Mike enjoys, “I’m very 'go, go, go,'” he said.

He started out his career at UniFirst as a learning and development specialist and was promoted to talent acquisition and development manager six months later. He took on the role of talent acquisition manager in 2018 after rapidly growing training and recruiting initiatives in order to focus solely on talent acquisition. As of February 2019, Mike was promoted to senior manager/head of talent acquisition.

In January 2019, he was named one of the HR Superstars by HRO Today, a group of people who are nominated for leading the charge in HR transformation and innovation at their respective organizations.

Mike develops and implements all strategic talent acquisition initiatives for UniFirst’s 250 nationwide facilities and oversees the talent acquisition team in Wilmington, Mass.; the talent engagement team in San Antonio, Texas; and UniFirst’s Recruitment Process Outsourcing partnership with Sevenstep, a globally recognized leader in recruitment outsourcing.

And while his career field has changed significantly since his time at Salem State, he hasn’t forgotten his alma mater and often recruits Viking graduates to UniFirst.

“I wasn’t really targeting them; it started out with just one,” Mike explained. Since that first hire though, he has continued to hire Salem State graduates, calling them “young, hungry professionals.” He has now hired seven professionals from Salem State, and he credits the university with preparing students for their future careers and making them viable candidates for hire, helping future workers to become independent and hard-working.

“It’s definitely a school where you get out of it what you put in and that translates well at UniFirst,” he said.

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