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At M&S we’re really proud of our work with young talent and we want to make our schemes the best they can be – including how we recruit for them.

Earlier this year we invited colleagues who had recently completed the M&S School Leaver programme to come and talk to us. We asked them to tell us what makes the programme so great and not so great, what someone considering an application might want to know and how we could provide candidates with better information – in summary we asked for honest feedback. Our colleagues gave us some great insight and importantly they told us that great brochures and websites aren’t enough – students want to ask questions about salary, location, type of work, the list goes on. We used these insights to create a new recruitment campaign and the focus was making it highly responsive and innovative. The clearest example of this was the inclusion of a WhatsApp number we set up for students. It was an industry first for school leavers, allowing them to ask us questions whenever and wherever and getting an instant response (during the day time!).

Along with our WhatsApp initiative we also created an innovative ‘Talk with Our Insiders’ page. This allowed candidates to speak directly to school leavers currently on our programme, as well as to senior people within our business. Candidates would simply browse a gallery of our people and look for the person best placed to answer their question. Once they had found him or her, they would submit their question and await a response. This kind of smart technology enabled candidates to streamline their research while offering insights on a whole new level.

Ultimately, we attracted a high level of interest to all roles – and these innovative initiatives were a big part of it. At the height of the campaign we had on average 40 WhatsApp conversations per day. What’s more, these new ways of interacting with students have given us invaluable insights into what students really want to hear about and mean we can create an even stronger campaign for next year. We were thrilled on Friday to win the AASL award for most innovative recruitment campaign – the cherry on top for this year’s hard work as applications for 2016 were closing. Applications for 2017 intake will start in September but if you’re interested in finding out more – do give us a WhatsApp! 

Find out more here