Whitepaper: In-house Recruitment Early Careers Conference 2020


Our Early Careers Conference 2020 shed light on some of the main trends to be aware of in the early careers market as well as some top tips for successful talent acquisition.

As talent acquisition professionals, the ever-evolving landscape of recruitment particularly from an early careers perspective means that your strategy must be constantly adapting. Luckily, recruiters know how to think on their feet and innovate on demand.

On the day, we heard from the likes of Deliveroo, Milkround, Reed.co.uk, Aon and many more! Our keynote speakers offered unique insights into Generation Z, how their minds work and most importantly how to attract them and their valuable skills. There are so many ways to enhance candidate engagement and attraction, in this whitepaper, we will delve into what was discussed on the day so even if you missed it – you can improve your early careers strategy too.

Maximising Social Mobility at Early Career Level

Chris Rea

Higher Education Services Manager
The first speaker at our Early Careers Conference was Chris Rea, Higher Education Services Manager at Prospects who kicked off the day by speaking on social mobility.

Working at the heart of the higher education (HE) sector for more than 40 years, Prospects provide a market-leading portfolio of graduate career and postgraduate study recruitment options.

Social mobility is the movement of individuals within different sectors and classes. Chris referred to the present as being a ‘moment of crisis’ for social mobility, after it had been on a steady upwards trajectory for so long, it now is beginning to decline mainly as a result of economic changes. How do you attract candidates from more isolated areas? Or, how do you attract candidates to more isolated areas, away from the lively city buzz?

  • Chris referenced a study which highlighted the sense of elitism prevalent in English society, pointing to how a certain minority of individuals are disproportionately represented in the workplace. Graduates from higher-ranking universities were found more likely to both get to the interview stage and receive higher entry rate salaries.
  • There was found to be a significant class divide. A shocking statistic revealed by Chris was that those from the most advantaged 1/5 of communities are more than 9 times as likely to attend top universities than those less advantaged, regardless of having the same qualifications.
Key Take-aways

Attracting ‘loyal’ candidates, in other words, those who remain in the same area they have grown up and been educated is challenging but possible. The other types of people you might be trying to appeal to are returners – those who went to university in a different region and then returned home, stayers – those who liked their university region so much they settle there instead, and incomers – those who work in a region they neither were domiciled or went to university. Having an understanding of these different groups and their needs is the key to your talent attraction strategy.

Make connections with universities. This means not just the redbrick ones, but the more modern ones such as the polytechnic unis. These universities tend to have a much higher number of loyal candidates. From this perspective, you can use these candidates to drastically diversify your talent pool. For too long, recruiters have had the mentality to only go for candidates from ‘top’ universities, meaning that many perfectly good hires are overlooked. These universities must be engaged with in the same way, and social mobility will improve as a result.

Communicating Your Company Persona

Zac Williams

Co-founder and Group Director
Zac Williams from Gradtouch illuminated us on the importance of having a clearly defined company persona.

Gradtouch provides the necessary tools for both recruiters and candidates to build brighter futures. They give those who advertise with them the means to reply to every single applicant and are dedicated to creating an authentic image of companies.

  • Recognising that there is a distinction between a company persona and employer brand. The relationship between the two is such that your company persona should build and develop your employer brand.
  • Understanding what your company persona is. Company persona more generally is defined by a range of different facets; your values, culture, beliefs, position in the market, the personalities of your employees – and just your overall, collective identity.
Key Take-aways

Focus on what makes you unique. Your persona is all of the elements that make you unique, and you should be proud to showcase these!

Be aware of the benefits it will bring for you. This includes more authentic job ads, stronger connections with the right candidates, improved candidate perceptions & so many more. Effectively communicating your company persona will resonate with your candidates and naturally spark their interest.

Demonstrate how your persona actually comes to life in the workplace. If one of your values is a focus on work-life balance, showcase how you put this into practice. This can be in the form of video content, case studies from existing employees, there are endless ways to communicate your company persona and what you are doing to keep it alive.

Improving Recruitment Efficiencies through AI-driven Talent Assessment

Abbie Lopez

Engaging Talent Specialist

Amber Harris

TA Manager
Next up, we heard from Abbie Lopez from Ocado and Amber Harris from Aon.

Aon’s Assessment Solutions specialise in innovative psychometrics, rigorous scientific testing and a client-centric approach to organisational psychology consultancy, and Ocado is one of the UK’s leading online supermarkets. The dynamic duo enlightened us on some top tips for driving success through AI and recruitment technology.

  • Amber kicked off the talk by asking us: how many of you are hiring ‘mini-me’s?’ The reality is: most of us naturally steer towards candidates who share similarities to us.
  • Recruiting inclusively is an undeniable challenge when despite the best of intentions, we are all inherently biased.
  • Having an abundance of very similar people in the workplace actually hinders success and productivity.
  • High number of applications but high drop-out rates. According to Abbie, many of these occurred at the numerical/verbal reasoning tests in Ocado’s assessment process.
  • Attracting candidates to less ‘desirable’ areas.
Key Take-aways
  • It’s not as scary as it seems. Abbie explained how AI is used in the video interview process to give candidates a score of 1-9, with 5+ being a pass. This, alongside the fact that many candidates drop out at this stage, means that there’s a strong boost in efficiency.
  • It goes without saying, but it gives you more time to focus on what you do best – recruiting. Using AI throughout the recruitment process creates a better experience both for you and the candidate.
  • Improves D&I – it eliminates bias in the recruitment process and ensures that hires are being assessed only on the relevant traits.
  • Give feedback. This is really important for your employer branding and means that even candidates who are unsuccessful in their application will have a positive impression of your company.

Attracting a Young Audience — Insight to Help You Hire Early Career Candidates

Simon Wingate

Commercial Director
Simon Wingate, commercial director from Reed.co.uk provided insights into a recent survey they carried out.

The survey focused on 2,000 18-24 year olds (Generation Z), and found many revealing points for recruiters to take into account. Below, the data uncovered has been divided into the predominant challenges as well as some of the key take-aways for recruiters.

  • Knowing who to target. Young people take many different paths into work, so tailoring your talent attraction strategy means accounting for a diverse range of candidates. How do you ensure that this strategy targets the best hires?
  • The employment market. It’s more competitive out there today than it was for young people’s parents. This means that some candidates might not even be applying for their ‘dream’ jobs out of a belief that it’s unrealistic.
  • 73% of respondents believe it is harder to get a job today than it was for their parents.
  • 2/3 of candidates are concerned with the current economic climate, fearing the security surrounding their jobs.
Key Take-aways

The most important reason for going into work for a majority of candidates who answered the survey was the ability to earn. This focus on independence is something you can specifically market in your recruitment strategy. Similarly, a lot of people only go to university because they believe it will increase their chances of earning.

Something else that’s important for recruiters to remember is that transitioning into the world of work is difficult for young people. Having an understanding of this change will manifest a sense of empathy towards candidates and make them feel valued even prior to their employment with you. You can demonstrate this sense of understanding through being upfront and honest throughout the recruitment process, in terms of what they can expect from the role and from you as an employer.

Another thing you can emphasise to candidates is the ways in which you can enhance their career development. A clearly defined career path was one of the most highly prioritised points by respondents. In order to boost your candidate attraction, you can give them what they want by providing them with a clear vision of how you can help them build their career – whether this is through training, experience in different departments, or regular communication about their development and where they want to go.

Shaping your Brand & Reputation: Attracting Young Talent in all the Right Places

Michelle Craig

Marketing Manager
We heard from Michelle Craig, Marketing Manager at Jobteaser on shaping your brand reputation to heighten your engagement with candidates.

JobTeaser has built a unique ecosystem that brings together over 5000 companies and 400 universities across Europe to focus on the next generation. Providing over 1.8 million students and recent graduates with the tools they need to launch their working careers with confidence.

  • Around 24% of the global workforce is expected to be taken up by Generation Z by the end of 2020. This means a rapid change in approach to recruitment might be necessary, but how do you ensure that your talent attraction is successful across all generations currently existing in the workforce?
  • The fourth industrial revolution, changes in the economy, the evolving workforce, these are all drastic changes for recruiters.
  • It is predicted that approximately 85% of the jobs advertised in 2030 do not currently exist/ have not been invented yet.
  • Some vacancies are particularly hard to fill due to requiring highly specific skills. It is likely that the candidates who have these skills are extremely sought after by many companies.
  • Finding the right time. 2-way video interviews may be difficult to arrange when trying to work around the candidate’s current employment.
  • Too many questions in the video interview process deterring candidates from completing the application.

There are many factors throughout the interview process such as the number of questions which cause a relatively high drop-out rate such as in the picture above. Losing candidates in the process is not necessarily a bad thing, but helps to narrow down your talent pool to only the best, most dedicated candidates. 2 pm on Monday is the most common time to apply for a job. Knowing this means knowing who you’re targeting.

Key Take-aways

You can embed yourself within the candidate’s journey from an early point by having strong links with careers departments. In communicating to them in these early stages and getting your persona across to them, you will stand a better chance of standing out to them. With so many options available to school and university leavers, it takes some strategic thinking to ensure that you’re seen.

A notable issue for candidates is preparedness for the world of work. Having strategies in place to help them have a smoother transition into work will address one of young people’s biggest anxieties around starting work and help your brand to stand out against others. Some other suggestions for building on your employer brand is being transparent. As already noted in Simon Wingate’s talk (Reed.co.uk) candidates are realistic. This means that being upfront with them in terms of salary expectations, and what they can expect more generally from the role will work in your favour.

Improve your visibility. Michelle argued that if the first time a candidate has come across you is at the job ad itself – it’s too late. You want to be making an impression on them that drives them to the job ad, rather than them come across it by chance.

  • One-way interview processes mean that candidates can select an interview time which fits around their schedule. It’s commonly known that most of the hires you want are already in full-time employment, so this takes off the pressure and allows candidates to suitably prepare for the interview.

Winning the Hearts of Gen Z on Social

Milimo Banji

Founder and CEO
Milimo Banji is CEO of Tapin (at just age 23!) and challenged us to understand the mindset of Generation Z.

As already emphasised, appealing to this group is key for your success as an organisation due to their increasing prevalence in the workforce.

  • The challenge for this topic unsurprisingly lies in knowing how to attract Generation Z. This means knowing their priorities, their interests, and how best to engage with them. Milimo challenged attendees to a game of ‘Guess the Meme’ to quiz our knowledge of the types of media consumed by young people. Some of them we got – but there was definitely some more challenging meme-content in there!
  • A considerable challenge is creating content that is engaging. Milimo commented on the stereotype that Gen Z have a short attention span, building on this by stressing the importance of making content particularly exciting. If something isn’t unique or interesting, people won’t choose to engage with it.
Key Take-aways
  • Use memes! Memes are a method of communication and are predominantly used in a humorous context. They are a great way to spark the interest of early careers candidates, as it is familiar territory to them and also helps to convey your employer brand as down to earth.
  • Use video content. This was pointed to as the most valuable form of media to use across your platforms. Whatever the specific platform is, people like video above anything else. This is most likely because it’s easy to engage with, while other types of media like articles require more effort to process.
  • Get started with Instagram stories. This is a quick and easy way to engage with hires, and Instagram is currently the most popular social media platform amongst Gen Z.
  • Create shareable content. This is a prime way to boost candidate engagement, increasing awareness and interest around your brand. Shareable content is content that is relatable, value-driven

Deliveroo’s Chef Academy – Using the Apprenticeship Levy to Benefit Everyone

James Allen

Recruitment Operations & Early Careers Lead
Our final speaker of the day was James Allen, Recruitment Operations & Early Careers Lead at the well-known food delivery company Deliveroo.

James spoke about their journey at Deliveroo which, even 6 years on, is still undergoing rapid growth. More recently, they’ve looked at expanding their talent pipeline to include early careers

  • The challenge begins with knowing how to fill your talent pipeline with the right candidates. James noted that their recruitment process was previously fairly ‘ad hoc’ without specific talent attraction strategies in place for early careers.
  • There is a concern that younger candidates will require too much time to be upskilled.
  • Marketing budget. You might not be able to attract the candidates you want due to budget constraints.
Key Take-aways
  • Work experience and internships can help you to directly bring strong hires into the talent pipeline. This saves you time, as it means you can identify them well in advance of them leaving school or university and you won’t have to repeat the process with them again.
  • Deliveroo has started working with smaller restaurants who potentially don’t have levy, giving them access to strong candidates and particularly chefs.
  • You can give away 25% of your annual apprenticeship levy, depending on your payments from the previous tax year. The first step is calculating what this 25% actually is, and then you can plan how to use it.
  • Look at who you can build partnerships with. At Deliveroo, they have been looking at London Borough schools, making use of open days, careers fairs, and even offering cooking classes at the schools.


The Early Careers Conference showcased unique case studies and valuable insights into the future of early careers recruitment. Being in tune with the key trends and gaining a better understanding of candidates is paramount in having a well-designed and effective recruitment process. You can supercharge your talent attraction by using social media to boost engagement, as well as using other key tools at your disposal.

Communicating your company’s persona and having a strong employer brand will help to generate interest. Having a clearly-defined message which is communicated clearly in your content creates an image of your brand which sticks. Rather than just being another name, your brand can have a more meaningful context for people. Building a clear journey for young candidates will help to harness their talent in the early career stage and provide fresh, innovative insights to your team.