Four years ago, while at York University, Charlie Taylor realised that something was missing from the apps on his phone.
In the millennial age, we do everything from shopping to emailing to booking holidays on our phones, but planning out careers is something that seems to have missed out on going mobile.
Taylor put a pin in the idea when he joined the Ernst & Young graduate scheme, until after about a year he asked the company’s head of recruitment: “How are you reaching the most mobile audience in the world through their mobiles?”
In short, they weren’t.
Taylor then went to 40 other heads of recruitment at FTSE 100 companies and found that nobody was filling this niche. That’s when he decided to quit his job and build the world’s first careers app for students, Debut, which launched in 2015.
The app launched with about 200 companies on board, and by the end of this year there will be about 80 multinationals using it including Tesla, Deutsche Bank, Microsoft, Deloitte, L’Oréal, Siemens, Rolls Royce, and the NHS.
So how does it work?
You simply register with the app, then you see some of the world’s biggest employers coming to you, rather than having to chase them.
According to Taylor, many big companies are struggling to attract graduates from certain parts of the country with specific skills. For example, Vodafone might already have 30,000 applications for a role, but they want to target graduates of a particular nationality or who speak a certain language.
If someone with those specific skills is on the Debut app, they will get a notification straight to their phone asking them to come in for an interview. Simple as that.
Companies now chase candidates, not the other way around
“It’s really empowering for the students,” Taylor told Business Insider. “It kind of reverses that communication — employers coming to you, and you not having to go through stages and stages of selection, because actually, you are somebody who they find really difficult to attract in the first place.”
You wouldn’t expect to be asked into an interview by walking down the road and knocking on the doors of companies, but Taylor says Debut is practically allowing that to happen.
In June, the app is taking personalisation one step further by introducing eight mobile assessments. These will be tests that show how good applicants are at things like numerical reasoning, spacial reasoning, and multitasking.
“The talent spot for the new season in September will allow employers not just to target on education and social background, but also on things like your ability to reason, which will be particularly good for people who haven’t got the practical academic labels that employers always look for,” Taylor said. “Or they might say, ‘To be honest, we don’t mind if someone’s got a 2:2, what we want is someone who’s great at reasoning, verbal and numerical,’ and now Debut can provide that.”
Another way in for graduates and students is by playing games on the app. Debut has games built for Deutsche Bank and L’Oréal, and in September the team is launching one for EY and Microsoft. The idea is if a candidate gets a high enough score, they win an internship at the company.
‘Students love status’
Another reason the platform is tackling the traditional job hunt market is by making it accessible. If a student is lying in bed at 1 a.m. and has a brainwave about their career path, they might not be that inclined to fire up their laptop and create a profile on a job site or re-write their CV and send off an application.
Having access to employers and recruiters from an app on your phone is a more realistic expectation.
“Students love status,” Taylor said. “You can imagine that butterfly feeling in your stomach, imagine your mum or dad being like, ‘Get off your phone,’ and you say actually, ‘I’ve just been talent spotted by Rolls Royce, and I’m going straight into an interview.'”
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