Hi! I’m Angus, one of the founders of TipStart. As the person chiefly responsible for designing our new app’s signup process and matching algorithm, I wrote this blog to set out four things that I hope will happen following its launch. If, as you read this, you feel inspired to help us in our mission, detailed instructions are provided at the end.
TipStart is about making the world of work fairer, but we’re far from the only organisation that believes in social mobility. Deloitte, for example, believes that ‘everyone, irrespective of their background, should be able to achieve their full potential’. The About Us page of almost every large corporation in the UK now includes a similar statement and, to their credit, hiring processes have changed significantly in my lifetime.
TipStart is led by the belief that the level of privilege you grow up with should not define the professional opportunities you are afforded. - Amy, CIO
Some of the biggest employers now don’t ask for the names of candidates, lest they indicate a particular gender or ethnicity. There is now contextual recruitment, a hiring practice which effectively weights candidates’ academic and professional achievements against the socio-economic circumstances in which they were achieved. In other words, a B achieved in a school where the average student gets a D might be a scored higher than an A achieved in a school where the average student gets an A. Universities, once upon a time selected on the basis of gravitas added to your CV, are no longer considered an effective predictor of job suitability. Employers are targeting more school leavers and apprentices, through sponsored internship and work experience programmes.
What all this means is that performance - in job searching, applications, psychometric tests, interviews and assessment centres - is paramount. No longer can someone from a disadvantaged background hustle into university and expect to land a top job solely based on that fact afterwards. They must also be able to find as many job opportunities, milk their limited experience in application responses and demonstrate their grasp of industry jargon just as well as their more privileged counterparts to succeed in the new, contextualised world.
What the data clearly shows is that all the changes to have taken place in recruitment, however well-intentioned, have not led to more equal employment outcomes for university graduates, but rather the opposite. And while it’s great that employers are creating opportunities for school leavers, it suggests that all of the young people in the UK who go to university (now outnumbering the people who don’t) can already access such opportunities.
The things that today’s graduates must become good at - identifying job opportunities, milking experience in applications, grasping industry terminology - are not taught especially well at school or university. More often than not, these skills are honed through personal connections or chance encounters with people who know who’s hiring and what organisations are looking for, specifically, in their industry. I disagree with my co-founders on many things, but one experience we share is that we all have a contact who helped us land our first jobs after university.
We designed the TipStart app to replicate this informal support network.
I would especially like to see lesser-known organisations working in unique fields sign up, as these are likely to offer rewarding opportunities that only the well-connected would otherwise hear about. Sadly, many graduates only apply to the biggest household-name grad schemes simply because they don’t know what else is out there.
I don’t expect all pairings to be a perfect match in the sense that every TipSter works in the exact role their TipStarter wants. Mainly this is because a lot of TipStarters won’t know what they want to do yet, but there is also the fact that some jobs are sought after by more people than there are people actually doing them - think food critic, video game tester, or astronaut. But, in cases where a TipStarter isn’t seriously considering a career in a field that their TipSter knows well (either first or second-hand), then I hope they can focus more on transferable skills (e.g. how to milk experience on job applications).
Our three impact areas (that is, the three areas we expect to make the most difference in) are professional networking, career management, and employability skills. Ultimately, we think that progress in these areas will translate into TipStarters securing jobs they might not have been able to otherwise, which hopefully leads to them earning more and being more fulfilled in their future careers. From the perspective of employers, they start to see more and better applicants from diverse backgrounds and can therefore give opportunities to the best candidates, not simply the best-connected.
Once a group of TipStarters have successfully completed their six-month structured programmes and found jobs, it would be great to see their new employers take notice of how TipStart helped this outcome unfold and decide to give it a go themselves. My first hope - that all sorts of organisations sign up for TipStart and offer a diversity of options that our matching algorithm can work with - can only happen through this process.
If, like me, you want to see TipStart succeed and some of these hopes to come true, there are several things you could do: