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Students are winning top jobs by playing games on their phones

Debut delivers news of graduate positions from employers, who use challenges in the careers app to make approaches to talented individuals

Carly Minsky's avatar

Carly Minsky

April 7 2016
Debut app


What if you could land your first graduate job just by playing a game on your mobile phone?

That possibility is, as of March 2016, a reality. On UK campuses, students are connecting with employers through a new app that uses custom games to help employers identify top talent.

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Debut – which describes itself as a careers app for students – has signed up more than 40 blue-chip employers including L’Oréal UK, Microsoft and Ernst & Young.

The companies offer careers events and interview invitations directly to students on the app, but the most coveted “prizes” are internships and fast-tracked job applications, which are reserved for outstanding candidates.

Although the app has so far officially launched only in the UK, many employers also recruit internationally. For international students already in the UK, this alternative route into desired opportunities helps to get around difficult application procedures.

“I would say the main benefit of using Debut is the simplicity of it when compared to other application forms,” comments Aadam Mulla, a second-year accounting and business student at the University of York who was offered a placement with L’Oréal UK through Debut.

“I think employers want to see candidates who are more than what a piece of paper [CV] says about them. People who can show why they really want to work for a company are probably those who will succeed.”

Alex Bennett, the graduate talent manager at L’Oréal UK, looks for a sense of adventure in candidates, a quality well demonstrated by students who excel at L’Oréal’s game ‘The Seeker” – a free-running game in which players navigate a maze to explore the company’s brand.

She says: “At L’Oréal we value passion, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. These are all ideals that are embedded in L’Oréal’s genetic code, and those that demonstrate them are likely to succeed in the business.

“Through Debut, we learn which students we should be targeting for our roles. The app helps us reach a wider audience, while the Talent Spotter function allows us to approach the most suitable candidates from this diverse talent pool, encouraging their application.”

In beta trials, the app’s games were played 35,000 times by students on campus, testing the skills that would be essential to success in the workplace.

Bronte Wright, also a student at York, submitted traditional job applications for a number of positions that would make use of her data analysis skills but failed to get past the numerical test stage of the process.

“After not being successful in my first few applications, I decided it was time to really start giving myself the best chance,” she explains.

“It took me about five minutes to make a profile on Debut, and there was no need for a CV or covering letter. I then began exploring the app. The first thing I noticed was the range of jobs the app had advertised on it and how professionally they were set out; it made it much easier to read the job descriptions and eligibility criteria, and the app even gives its own hints and tips regarding that particular job or company that have come straight from the employers’ mouths!”

After just one day using Debut, Bronte was “talent-spotted” and contacted by three different companies offering her telephone calls with their recruiters and fast-tracked applications. Ultimately, she whizzed through the recruitment process with Enterprise Rent-a-Car and is nominated for “undergraduate of the year” – with a significant chance of a six-week internship.

But the main advantage of using Debut, according to Bronte, is that it brings interesting job opportunities to students even if they do not know specifically what job they are looking for.

She says: “It allows you to explore areas you may never have realised even existed; I never would have imagined myself working for such a prestigious car rental company.

“Even being ‘talent-spotted’ by companies such as Allen & Overy for a company law insight day was something new, different and interesting. I have never considered wanting to be a lawyer, but going to events such as the one I was invited to allows you to gain a real insight into a new and exciting opportunity. Even if you then realise that that sector isn’t for you – that’s another checked off the list; you’ll be getting closer to realising where your dream career lies.”

The app is specifically targeted at students and graduates seeking jobs or internships. It is available for free via the iPhone App Store, iTunes and Google Play.

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