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Get To Know Our Graduate Programme With Learning and Development Partner, Lindsey 

graduate programme

There’s an awful lot of opportunity for those wanting to join the digital industry. While this is great it means that just getting started can feel overwhelming.  

Supporting the digital revolution, we’ve launched a graduate development programme for the next generation of digital enthusiasts. Our programme is designed to build your skill set, support your progression and carve your own path to enjoy a thriving digital career.  

But no one tells it better than Lindsey Hinsley, our Learning and Development Partner. We chatted to her about our graduate track, how it’s different to others and what opportunities are available to candidates.  

In your own words, tell us why we’ve created the graduate track… 

Within our industry, there’s a big skills shortage. Like many agencies, we struggle to recruit people with the right experience in these areas. A graduate programme is a really good way of home growing our own. It’s a way of supporting people with talent and potential who we can train, mentor and support in their early careers. 

There’s loads of benefits to this including for the candidates who are coming into a really structured role in an industry that many students may not know a lot about. But more importantly, it’s about supporting young people and students with getting into work. As a result of the pandemic, a lot of graduate roles were rescinded, and it hit students hard. We work closely with universities, and they’ve said that not only has it been tough for them to find roles, but their confidence levels are low too.  

Even students who graduated all the way back in 2019 have been unable to get graduate level roles or even decent permanent roles because a lot of businesses stopped recruiting. In some cases, they haven’t been able to get a summer job or a weekend job because the work just wasn’t there.  

So, the benefits are twofold – it’s supporting young people with their career aspirations, providing opportunities and getting into this industry and it also supports our long-term succession pipelining as we’re able to plan ahead for roles.  

What makes our graduate track different?  

The feedback that we’ve had so far is that not many other businesses are offering the same level of programme that we are. For example, often in our industry, businesses and agencies offer a specific graduate programme in a specific area of the business. These are usually six-months long and are solely based around the candidates skills and allowing them to learn how to do that one role. 

The massive benefit that we’re offering is that this is an IDHL Group graduate programme. With eight other connected agencies at our fingertips, candidates are being exposed to a much wider variety. As well as this, we ideally want to transition all candidates into permanent roles at the end of the programme. Many other programmes take on a big number of candidates but can only offer a small handful of roles at the end.  

What tracks are being offered as part of the graduate programme?  

Currently the tracks span SEO, PPC, Business Development and Client Services. SEO is ideal for those with an analytical mind and an interest in Google. PPC would suit those who are mathematically minded with a strong attention to detail. Business Development is more for those with a genuine enthusiasm for all things customers and Client Services would suit a great communicator or someone who’s keen to deliver high levels of customer service.  

Tell us more about how the graduate track will work and the process it will follow… 

Sure, it follows a structured process that lasts a full year. So, we have eight graduate roles across the whole business which have been advertised with the universities and across our normal channels too. We’ve also been doing career fairs at universities to give students the chance to come speak to us direct about the programme.  

The first stage was to apply to the graduate track and send over a CV. At the moment, we’re in the shortlisting phase which is a lengthy process as we’ve had over 500 applicants! Once shortlisting has been done, we then have two open days which the candidates will be invited along to attend. Here, they’ll be able to meet people from across the full business including operation managers, managing directors, members of the senior management team and members of specific teams too.  

Then comes the first stage interview which will be a bit like an informal career discussion about what they’re looking for and what kind of skills they’ve got. This will be done in conjunction with the recruitment team and people from within their hiring manager areas. Once we’ve done that on the open day, they’ll either be offered the role at that stage or if we want to do a second interview or a small practical, we’ll book that in too.  

The programme will start at the end of July with a comprehensive induction. Then the candidates will move into their specific roles to begin their experience with us. In terms of support, they’ll have a day-to-day person that will look after their learning and development within the role. But they’ll also have a mentor from a different area of the business. It’s always good to have a mentor that isn’t directly related to what your day-to-day role  and invested in your performance. This person is there to help them develop personally, support their career aspirations and will be able to help the candidate network and expose them to different areas of the Group so they get a really well-rounded experience.  

Alongside this, every month they will come out of their current role and will join back together as a full graduate cohort where they can enjoy a monthly development day. This will either be soft skills development like presentation skills or self-awareness or brand awareness and there will also be sessions where we get industry experts in to run particular days for them. They’ll even get involved in running days themselves! 

The programme itself is twelve months, but from about nine months we’ll be looking at what permanent role the individual will be transitioning into including salaries and opportunities. Over the year, we want to give them a really good overview of the whole of search. So, a candidate may sit in the technical SEO team, but we want them to experience content, outreach and digital PR too and the same approach will be taken for those working in the paid media team.  

The best part, at twelve months, there’ll be a sign off and a big celebration – almost like a graduation! The plan is to have two intakes a year, one in January and one in July.  

What are you looking for in candidates during this process? 

What we’re really looking for is personality and potential. They might not have any previous experience and that’s ok. During the open days, we’ll be looking for people that have got something about them, have done some form of work experience or can show that they can communicate well because they’ve worked with customers, had a hobby that shows commitment or have learnt a new skill. As long as we can see the potential and that they’ll fit into the wider teams and culture, that’s what matters most.  

What opportunities does it present candidates for the future?  

It’s important for candidates to understand it doesn’t just stop when the graduate track is over. Once they’ve completed the programme and moved into a permanent role, they’d become part of the agency’s training and development processes. This includes career progression opportunities, regular 121s, personal development plans, ongoing training and so on. 

As IDHL is such a growing group, there’s always going to be opportunity and what we’re genuinely looking for is people that will be with us in four- or five-years’ time. We know we can’t guarantee that, but we want to offer them opportunities that fit their career aspirations.  
Join somewhere that will give you the very best career development opportunity. We are our people and we’re proud of all they achieve. Setting you up for success, we’ll guide you through the early days of your digital career to help you reach your full potential so you can enjoy a highly successful digital career. 
We’re a rapidly growing digital business and with that comes opportunity. To find out more about the opportunities available to you or to discuss our graduate scheme in more depth, don’t hesitate to get in touch.