Sarah Paul is head of emerging talent recruitment at Atos.
Please tell us about Atos.
Atos SE (Societas Europaea) is a leader in digital services with 93,000 employees in 72 countries. It operates under the brand names Atos, Atos Consulting, Atos Worldgrid, Bull, Canopy, and Worldline.
Serving a global client base, the group provides: consulting and systems integration services, managed services and business process outsourcing (BPO), cloud operations, big data and cyber security solutions.
Atos is focused on business technology that powers progress and helps organisations to create their firm of the future. The group is the Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and is listed on the Euronext Paris market.
What tasks does your role involve?
I am responsible for recruitment of the graduate, intern and apprenticeship programmes we have at Atos.
My role includes developing the strategy for recruitment and overseeing the ongoing delivery throughout the year. One of my key tasks is to head up the university and high school liaison, as well as working with the business to understand its requirements to ensure we recruit the skills we need.
How do you use to reach out to recruits and ensure your search diverse?
So far this year we’ve recruited 135 graduates, 26 interns and 60 apprentices from numerous locations across England – with these figures set to rise in 2016. We actively approach schools, universities and colleges in the local business areas with details of the scheme.
In universities we look to attract interns and graduates through a number of activities on campus. We take part in careers fairs, hold pop-up events and advertise on the university websites, as well as a host of external sites targeted at the graduate market. We also work with the careers service at universities to identify key ways to engage with students.
With regards to recruiting apprentices, we contact high schools and make them aware of the opportunity, as well as advertising on external sites aimed at the apprentice market. We also visit schools to tell pupils about the apprenticeship programme and run workshops which can be anything from ‘how to build a computer’ to interview skills to support their job hunting.
Whats your sorting process to select the best candidates for a shortlist?
We don’t look at UCAS points. We take the view that if they have been accepted into university, they are of the right standard to be considered for our scheme. Our selection process is as follows:
- Online application form
- Online testing – verbal and numerical
- Telephone interview
- Assessment centre
The entry requirement for the graduate programme is a 2.1 or a 2.2 with supporting work experience / extra-curricular activities. While we do want to hire the best graduates we feel that we will miss out on good candidates by requiring strictly a 2.1 or above.
We look for good all-rounders who, as well as a desire for business exposure and responsibility, have excellent written and verbal communication skills, are a great team player, and will preferably have previous customer-facing experience.
How are you ensuring recruits know about Atos and its values?
We try to bring our organisation to life on our website through videos and testimonials from our current graduates. This gives applicants the chance to hear from their peers about what it’s really like to work at Atos.
We’ve found that the best way to get this message across is by speaking to the students, so we always take our current graduates on campus to get face-to-face time with prospective applicants.
We have invested a lot in the growth of the programme and we are forecast to take 47 interns in 2016, a phenomenal increase since the scheme first launched.
Our internships are for university students who spend their penultimate year with us before returning to their degree course for a final year. We give the interns real work and real assignments on live projects. Interns are key members of the team and have a notable impact on the business through their work.
In just two years the number of interns taken on by Atos has increased by over 300%, highlighting our commitment to young people.
We recognise the importance of internships as graduates who have completed internship programmes tend to have a better understanding and knowledge of the roles they are applying for. Students are hungrier for work than ever as they realise how competitive it is when they graduate, so they are keen to start their career as soon as possible.
How do you make Atos stand out to applicants, against competing businesses?
From day one, we offer a permanent role for graduates, which is something that other graduate programmes don’t offer. Our graduates are paid a salary of £28,000 or £30,000 in London. The programme leads to an industry recognised qualification.
The interns at Atos receive a salary of £18,000 per annum (£20,000 in London) as well as ongoing training and development throughout the programme. Successful interns are offered a graduate job for them to return once they have completed their degree, with Atos supporting them throughout their final year at university with £500 per term sponsorship.
We focus on bridging the gender gap between the apprentices who apply by trying to encourage more women to join the organisation. We do this by being clear about the different roles on offer across the company.
Our apprentices are paid between £12,000 and £14,000 depending on the programme they join.
What is the biggest challenge youve faced in your role and how did you over come it?
One of our main challenges is encouraging more females to apply for the programme. Last year we held an ‘IT meets high tea’ event, which was targeted at female undergraduates studying STEM subjects to encourage them to consider careers in IT.
Another key challenge in recruitment is brand awareness. We rebranded our recruitment campaign last year to focus on informing students about ‘who we are and what we do’. When we tell them about something of the incredible things we work on such as the Olympics, they want to apply immediately! We are also focusing on building our presence on campus to create awareness in the long term.
What are the best and worst aspects of your role?
The best aspects are seeing our graduates and apprentices succeed. Having recruited them, it’s really rewarding to see and hear about the amazing projects and roles they get involved with.
Our interns also love it – all of our 12 month interns who have left us this summer want to come back on our graduate programme next year.
The worst aspect is the competitiveness of the market. Graduate vacancies are rising every year which makes it an ongoing challenge to ensure we are recruiting the best graduates for our business.
Do you have any advice for other recruiters?
It’s worth offering schemes that encourage young people into the workforce, regardless of the sector. As well as securing the talent and expertise to help further your business, you’ll also help protect your industry against skills gaps which can be very timely and expensive to rectify once identified.