Time after time it’s the same old story. Send off as many CVs as possible, grab any chances that come your way with both hands regardless of whether they are what you want to do or not, and hope for that precious 20 minute interview window with which to wow a potential employer. Surely there’s got to be a better way to get our talented graduates into opportunities they love?
It certainly doesn’t look like the average job interview. Industrious teams of 5 or 6 students and graduates, all dressed smartly, laughing, busily typing or scribbling down ideas, the occasional loud eureka moment breaking what is otherwise a fairly contented hum of activity. It may seem like a think-tank, but in actual fact we’re at day two of the Telefonica Campus Party Unrecruitment process, and it’s almost time for all the candidates to present their final pitches to the senior staff of Telefonica. In the next couple of hours, 11 people will have secured a four month paid placement, working as events interns for the prestigious Telefonica Campus Party – the world’s largest technology festival.
A collaboration between Enternships and The Spring Project, Unrecruitment is a new process of hiring that hopes to disrupt the tradition of recruitment, putting some power back into the hands of those applying for opportunities, not just those offering them. Getting top talent for Telefonica marks the second of these unrecruitment sessions, the first having been a brilliantly successful hiring session for world-class digital agency Havas, resulting in 13 new paid internships for UK graduates.
So, what makes it different? The key to unrecruitment is that it is a collaboration between the person looking to hire and the person looking to be hired – a system of self-selecting your own skill bases and really learning about the opportunity at hand to see whether you are truly the right fit for it.
All initial applications are read, offered genuinely helpful feedback, and those who seem to have a real enthusiasm for the opportunity are invited to the first of two full days of training courtesy of The Spring Project – meet the team, learn about the role and engage in exercises and learning that will leave them better off, regardless of whether they decide to pursue the role itself.
On the second day, training gets more intense, the remaining candidates are put through practises formed to simulate those of the job itself, and those who really shine under the conditions presented are offered the positions. No CV, no generic questions – just a genuine chance to prove what you are made of. And no matter what, every candidate goes away with worthwhile experience. Darius Norell of the Spring Project said
“Two things are at the heart of unRecruitment. One is the idea that it enables candidates’ brilliance to shine out and for them to be selected on that. That no matter which university a graduate went to or what degree result they got, if the experiences they have had have enabled their brilliance to develop, that unRecruitment will give us the best chance of seeing it. The other is is learning – that in every moment as far as possible to provide an opportunity for each person to be learning about themselves, others and the world around them.”
But does it really translate? The confidence and enthusiasm in the room was undeniable – the usual fear or awkwardness associated with an interview situation was nowhere to be found, instead the teams seemed genuinely absorbed with the final task at hand – coming up with a presentation in small groups to present to Sonia Sanchez-Gomez, head of Content, Social Media, Web and Outreach at Telefonica.
One candidate, Tom, had actually applied to the Havas unrecruitment scheme, but had been unsuccessful. According to him, it was the personalised feedback he got within that experience that gave him the boost he needed to write a successful application this time around. He said:
“I came across a role on Enternships.com for a role at Havas and sent off an – admittedly rather scrappy – application. I used all the generic phrases “I am organised”, “I am a team player”, “I am all of the things you want from me”, and I didn’t really put any thought, any time or anything of myself into it. It was, in essence, a generic robot job application.
I got an email back quite quickly, and I think I still remember the wording, it said that my application was “distinctly below average”, made it clear that my application in particular was really not up to scratch. And you know what, they were exactly right. So, when it came to applying for this role, I had that feedback in the back of my mind, and made sure to real put something of myself into the application, to not just send out 50 generic CVs and hope something sticks. I felt like I was really being myself, and lo and behold, here I am.”
Tom, along with 10 other brilliant candidates, were later offered four month roles at Campus Party. Sonia Sanchez-Gomez, added:
“The unrecruitment process was absolutely brilliant from beginning to end, exceeding all of my expectations. Enternships and The Spring Project have put together something very special, a mutually beneficial experience that ensures fantastic candidates, a clear understand of the employment on offer and a fair system that allows real talent to shine.
I couldn’t be happier with my new team, and already they are taking on and driving challenges and innovations that I couldn’t have imagined before this process began. I couldn’t recommend unrecruitment highly enough.”
Now the work really begins for the eleven graduates chosen, but the hope is that everyone who attended the two-day sessions took something away that was beneficial. For too long, recruitment has been about rejection rather than empowerment – and although there can only ever be a finite number of roles in every establishment, everyone who puts time into creating an application for such a role deserves valuable feedback, and the chance to grow their confidence and skills.
With so many young people leaving university wondering what tangible use their degrees and experience has given them, it is time that our recruitment processes help train as well as assess. It’s no long enough to demand experience, we must also be willing to provide it.