Kudos for The Grad Scheme

Last night, myself and 14 excitable members of the team attended our regional business awards, the North East Business Awards – giddy because we were enjoying good times with good company again but mostly giddy because we were there as finalists in the Apprenticeship, Training & Skills category for our work with The Grad Scheme. Now, The Verve Group are no strangers to awards, but this was the first time it’d been singled out from the rest of the great stuff we do across the group (modest, I know).

On a personal level, The Grad Scheme was the first project I created when I myself took the leap into financial services and came to work with Cathi way back at the end of 2016 – so not quite FS ‘veteran’ status! Back then (when it was just Para-Sols) the biggest challenge we had as a business was capacity, or the rather lack of it. The demand for our services has always been there, the ‘supply’ side of the equation was the tricky bit and that’s where fresh-faced, ex-marketing agency Nat was able to roll her sleeves up and get creative. Talent attraction remains a key priority for us today, and I know it is for many others across financial services so I thought I’d share some of my top insights…

  1. Attract them: build a brand that excites your audience. Applicants should feel like they relate to your company so talk their language, in the places they are. Your job advert is likely to be their first impression of you, so in a sea of dull, traditionally written job adverts use it as a chance to stand-out. All our job adverts are in the usual Verve Group personable tone of voice and our application process itself, encourages that from applicants too. It makes it enjoyable for them and you can often see the real personality come through and less of the textbook ‘I’m a keen team player but can work on my initiative too’ .
  2. Assess them: I’m a huge advocate for a values-based approach to recruitment. And so, as part of our application process, all applicants are asked to give us examples of when they’ve demonstrated our three company values. Yes, it’s important for us to understand – were they good examples? Have they understood the question? etc – but just as important, it sets their expectations of us. We carry out group assessment days and those few hours are about having fun, creating a safe space for them to feel at ease as that’s the gateway into meeting the real It’s not unusual to not know what you want to be when ‘you grow up’ (I’m still figuring it out), but everyone can tell you the type of company they’d like to work for so make sure that you’re the right fit for each other, that’s where the discretionary effort comes from when it comes to achieving the company vision together.
  3. Nurture them: ultimately, once you’ve got them, be loathed to let them go. The key bit here is making sure that the brand you attracted them with, marries up with the reality of your company culture. If you’ve promised to support their studies, make sure you have an infrastructure to support them. If you’ve encouraged innovation, be sure to ask for and hear their ideas. You get the jist. Our company culture is ever evolving, it has to as we transform and grow, but the core fundamentals of who we are, how we behave and what vision we’re driven to achieve remain at the centre of all of it.

Anyway, we didn’t get to take the trophy home last night which is a shame – we lost out to a global shipping company. But, we’re still proud and absolutely not deterred and as I’m out this evening with Cathi, Kim and Jo, we’ll be sure to raise a glass or two (again!) in celebration!

Natalie Bell, Director of Culture and Engagement, The Verve Group

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