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Insights Atkins win ‘Best Candidate Experience’ award

Digitally Transforming our Early Careers Journey

Let's hear it for our Early Careers recruitment team, who recently took away "Best Candidate Experience" in The FIRM Awards 2021. These exciting awards celebrate the finest best practice and innovation in in-house recruitment and the award is a testament to all the team's hard work and always putting the candidate at the heart of the recruitment process.
image of the best candidate experience award won by Atkins

It's the second time the team has received external recognition for our candidate experience. The first time was in 2019 when Atkins won the Recruiter Awards Best Candidate Experience. Here's what Katherine Dodge, Head of Early Careers, Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group had to say about her talented team's achievements:

What do you think contributed to your team’s win?

We’re committed to being an employer of choice in each sector and region we operate. So, when it comes to candidate experience, the team lives and breathes it. Treating our candidates with consideration and respect is the right thing to do, and it's also enshrined in our values. 

Our employer brand in the school and student markets is incredibly important to us, so we invest our time in developing it and trying to provide a positive experience for every candidate we engage with, regardless of outcome. The team is smart enough to know that even though a student might not join us now, they'll be very likely to join us in an experienced hire role in a few years.

Our team consistently provides personal, meaningful engagement. No mean feat when at times our ratio is 2,928 candidates for each Atkins recruiter. Especially considering how Early Talent candidates tend to need more support than other streams.

So just like the major infrastructure projects we manage; candidate experience isn’t about the short-term for us. Our driving ambition and consuming passion is a long-term commitment to transform the experience all our candidates receive.

"Engineering UK reports a shortfall of 69,000 engineers per year. Atkins needs to meet the consumer-centric demands of a new, tech-savvy workforce to achieve our ambition of being the world's premier engineering solutions partner."
image of the team collecting the best candidate award
How did the team go "above and beyond" during the pandemic?

The team worked exceptionally hard during the pandemic and during the first few months working from home, the team had to conquer their home-working barriers. During this time, we continued to deliver an entire early careers' recruitment cycle and made the full process virtual. It allowed students to continue to apply to Atkins, receiving the same great candidate experience they would in a face-to-face environment. 

We developed a new virtual assessment process for graduates and apprentices, took all placement interviews online and ran our first-ever digital Summer Placement experience in 2020. 

Every year we create bespoke recruitment processes that align to roles in our graduate, placement, and apprentice talent streams. But this year, we also had to run everything virtually and ensure every candidate could access it. So the team also provided tech advice and support for something that was as new to them as it was to us.

"It was a challenging year of firsts for all of us, but the early careers team went above and beyond, supporting and connecting our candidates to our organization and our people."

What are some of the other ways the team took the candidate experience virtual?

Over the last 18 months, these are some of our teams' other innovations:

  • New Chatbot on our Early Careers site helps students navigate the right roles and enjoy a smoother and faster application journey
  • New Digital Campus bridges the gap when we aren't on campus at universities. It includes a range of live and pre-recorded events to share early careers stories
  • More feedback points within our application process so that we can improve it even more
  • Connectr platforms for candidates who want to find out more or have received an offer and are being onboarded. Students can work with an Atkins mentor while upskilling themselves on digital modules and chatting to like-minded students
  • New Virtual Insights event in 2021 for first-year placement students. It provides an opportunity for them to learn about Atkins, take away key skills and networking opportunities while boosting accessibility and social mobility

"Building the next generation is part of our culture." How is this especially true for Atkins?

Our UK&E CEO Richard Robinson summarises this nicely when he announced the opening of our 2021 recruitment cycle:

"I'm very pleased to confirm we have opened our programme for 2021 and are looking for over 300 of the most talented grads, apprentices and placement students to join our team. Having recently caught up with the Early Careers team, the appetite for joining the industry is still going strong, with applications for our 2021 intake on track to break a few records. Breathing new life into the industry is so important, and it's great to see my enthusiasm echoed by so many others in Atkins!"

It's why the early careers team is so passionate about entry-level talent. While we continue to recruit the next generation, we’ll always put the candidate at the centre of how we do things. And, as always, work closely with the business to select the best talent for our organization.

So what's next for the Early Careers’ candidate experience?

It's fair to say that virtual delivery and engagement have had a multitude of benefits. We've seen a wider diversity reach, more offers from non-Russell Group universities, and a less stressful experience for candidates who find the application process daunting. Allowing our placement students to work in any location this year has made it easier for them to access work placements and positively impacted our brand.

We're always well connected with what others are doing in and outside our sector. In addition to our campaign data, we also have access to research that provides insight into the trends and needs of candidates. It will help us continue providing the right support to them during their transition from education to employment.

Although it might not seem obvious, there's a strong link between candidate experience and our ED&I strategy. Inclusivity and removing barriers in our recruitment processes will ensure we're accessible to more young people. We're learning how to provide the most appropriate individual support at every step, as every journey is personal, but in the context of a large volume campaign.

With STEM Outreach and work experience now under the direction of the Early Careers team, we're starting to really see an engagement strategy from school right the way through to selecting the right career at the right time. 

Right now we’re gearing up for what looks like the largest cycle we’ve every known with the requirements from the business for 2022, so look out for our new cycles going live again in late September.

Discover more about the Atkins Early Careers journey here.