Getting creative with graduate recruitment

Recruiting can often be an arduous process, and I think it’s fair to say that graduate recruitment is especially challenging.

The CVs that flood in when we advertise a grad opportunity here at Code are largely very similar, so determining the best of the bunch is a tricky task. Plus the current skill shortage in the digital industry means the competition to recruit high calibre talent is especially tough.

But is it possible to find great graduate talent nowadays? From my recent experience, I would say that the answer to that is an undoubted ‘yes’ — you just need to approach the process in a fresh way.

Over the last few months we’ve been on an exciting journey to find the next batch of graduates to join the Code Computerlove team. Rather than relying solely on CVs and interviews, we wanted to establish a clear view of the students’ ability alongside their aptitude to work collaboratively — and also offer them a valuable insight into how we work — to ensure we found grads that were the best possible fit.

We decided that the best way to do this would be to get out there and meet the students interested in UX and Development, then bring a shortlist of candidates together at the Code office so we could see their skills in action while at the same time giving them a valuable, first-hand glimpse into our culture and our expectations.

Manchester Metropolitan University’s ‘Meet the Employers’ event

The journey began back in January, when a team of Computerlovers took the opportunity to meet some of this year’s new digital talent at MMU’s ‘Meet the Employers’ evening.

As we were one of the only digital agencies at the event, it gave us a great view on just how much interest there is in our industry. It was fantastic to hear that some of the second year students who attended already had an understanding of our brand as well as the test-driven development approach we use, and our Lead Developer Naz and MMU graduate-turned-Senior Developer Anthony enjoyed sharing insights on both how Code works and the digital industry as a whole.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of the students were truly passionate about their future and itching to secure a good placement, and I was especially impressed when a fair few passed up the ‘end of event’ buffet in favour of chatting further with us about a possible future at Code.

CVs were handed over, contact details exchanged, and just like that we had our first batch of keen graduate applicants.

Manchester Digital Talent Day

In February, we headed to Manchester Digital’s Talent Day hoping to drum up even more interest in our graduate scheme.

We aimed to stand out from the crowd in the best way possible: as well as offering a Raspberry PI competition prize, we were by far the biggest team there, with everyone from Computerlove apprentices to senior staff on hand to represent the agency.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of the team, the day was a roaring success and we received a whole wheelbarrow full of promising applications.

Code Computerlove Graduate Day

As we started looking through the CVs and comparing notes on the students who’d made the biggest impression, we soon discovered that there were a handful of real standout candidates who were already proactively throwing themselves into self-learning and showing off self-initiated projects that really impressed.

Spoilt for choice, we drew up a shortlist of the students who we were most eager to get to know further and invited them to come join us for our first ever Graduate Day. I’m glad to say that each and every one accepted, and that they all turned up for the day full of enthusiasm.

After a quick introduction to the agency and an office tour, we put the collaboration skills of our grads to the test with an idea generation exercise called a Mash Up. In groups, the students had to brainstorm around products, technologies and services and then were instructed to refine their decisions by combining the elements to create innovative, fresh concepts, before presenting their ideas back to us.

Walking between groups as they worked, we were truly blown away by the level of ability, attention to detail and quality of thought process on display. In fact, we were already speculatively placing people in roles within different Code teams — a great indicator that we had some truly fantastic talent on our hands!

To round off the day, we ran some speed dating-style 1-2-1s with our lead developers. This was a great chance for the students to find out more about the career opportunities and the potential progression that can be made through our graduate scheme.

As a result of the day, we’ve successfully recruited five fantastic graduates to our Manchester digital agency that we’re really excited to welcome to the Code team and, more importantly, that we feel 100% confident will be able to hit the ground running.