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News: April 2016
Social Mobility in Graduate Recruitment: Big data and the CRS three years on

In December 2013 we published our ground-breaking research into social mobility in graduate recruitment. This April, at a launch sponsored by Clifford Chance, we have just released the findings of the first data available, 12 months after the Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) was first launched and six months after graduate employers, including the magic circle law firms, Barclays and Deloitte, started using Rare’s contextual approach to graduate recruitment. The new report draws on data from 54,000 student applications and 671 hires across 15 top firms that have already begun using the CRS.  

There have been several findings. Crucially, students achieving top grades from lower-performing schools and disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to apply to top firms while at university. But, if they do, early signs are that they could be 50% more likely to get hired by those using Rare’s CRS. Our analysis also shows that the least common forms of disadvantage have the most impact. Being the first generation of your family to go to university has markedly less impact on a student’s grades than being economically or personally disadvantaged.  

Whilst it is an early indication, an analysis of 671 hires over the last three years from firms using contextual data shows that disadvantaged students are 50% more likely to get hired as a result. Although a limited sample pool, this still demonstrates the potential that contextual information has on the recruitment process. This is also not about lowering standards; the average grades of the 54,000 applicants were AAA. In addition, outreach work to disadvantaged schools can encourage applications. Tower Hamlets, for example, is the fifth most likely borough in London to produce applications to firms using CRS, taking into account population size. Despite being one of the poorest, it is also the focus of much outreach work from City of London employers. 

Rare’s Managing Director, Raphael Mokades, said: “The early signs of a new approach to graduate recruitment are encouraging, with some clear indications that greater use of contextual data can widen the talent pool and identify bright graduates who have outperformed their circumstances and might otherwise be missed.  This expands the available student base for top employers and ensures those with genuinely impressive achievements, and potential are not missed, whatever their backgrounds.

“The data also shows that first-rate students with good A-Level grades from lower performing schools are less likely to apply to top employers. To bring more talent into the graduate pool, contextual data needs to be paired with outreach programmes to disadvantaged areas, where you can see a real impact.” 

Please download (pdf): Social mobility in graduate recruitment, big data and the crs three years on


Keywords: contextual recruitment, social mobility, research, CRS