Finding the editors of the future: The Scheme 2016

Resourcing Manager Ellie Pike on taking an inclusive approach to recruitment 

It feels like only yesterday that the HR team was huddled in a meeting room brainstorming a name for our new flagship entry-level programme. Our holding title, ‘The Scheme’ stuck, and for us, a new era of recruitment was born.

The Scheme is all about identifying potential in people, and finding talented new voices to join Penguin Random House UK. It’s open to all, regardless of experience or qualifications. It’s not about singling out one group of candidates above another – it’s about finding the very best talent, and we know that comes in many forms.

We launched in 2015, recruiting new marketers, and we learnt a huge amount. Namely, that if you open your doors wide enough and look beyond the CV, you will meet some incredibly talented people.

This year, we launched #TheScheme16 to find the editors of the future. Four aspiring editors will join a 13-month fully-paid traineeship from September, including two six-month placements within our publishing divisions.

Our challenge with #TheScheme16 was to reach people who love great storytelling but who may not have considered a career in publishing before. That meant stripping back our communications to really get across what it means to find, and publish, brilliant books. Our overarching campaign message ‘Can you bring a story to life?’ was used throughout to get this point across.

We partnered with organisations like The Prince’s Trust, Teach First and youth marketing company The Big Choice Group to actively reach the school leavers’ audience that we’ve not worked with much in the past.

Social media was a big focus for us too. This year we used Snapchat for the first time, asking our editors to take over our channel for the day. Over 70% of Snapchat users are under 25, so we felt it was the perfect platform to speak to a younger audience and give them a glimpse behind the scenes at Penguin Random House. We saw a real spike in engagement as a result, with people tweeting and ‘snapping’ their questions to our editors taking part.

And did the campaign work?

70% of our candidates applied in the last nail-biting two days before the deadline, so to say that kept us guessing whether we’d reached far and wide enough is an understatement!

We received 1,300 applications, an increase of 65% from 2015. We had a tough job to whittle those applications down and 50 applicants have now progressed to round two, where they will be asked to prepare a creative brief and complete a video interview to demonstrate their creative story-telling and commercial skills.

Not only does The Scheme help us reach a wide audience of high potential applicants, but those candidates also come from increasingly diverse backgrounds, with one in five applicants this year coming from a BAME background.. It’s fantastic that these talented candidates will bring different perspectives and experiences that will no doubt influence how creatively and successfully we acquire and publish books that appeal to all kinds of readers.

Congratulations to our top 50. We have an exciting journey ahead.

Our editors shared photos of themselves hard at work in their working environments, through regular blog posts and Snapchat takeovers.

Mainga Bhima, Assistant Editor in Penguin Random House Children’s

Francesca Pathak, Editor for Cornerstone

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