We are Brightsparks.
We are not recruitment.

Episode 7 

I think Sarah says it all so, in her words!:

My name is Sarah, I’m 25, Irish and  a big fan of Brightsparks!

I worked with Brightsparks for nearly 4 years while I lived in London. I was working full time but on a temporary basis in a primary school so Brightsparks was so handy for filling in school breaks when I wasn’t being paid during that time. Once I went permanent in the school, I kept working with Brightsparks as the extra pay really helped with living in expensive London. I wanted to become a primary school teacher and the experience I was gaining in my position in the school isn’t available in Ireland so working with Brightsparks allowed me to save for uni while living in London and to have a social life, because.. well.. Balance!

Brightsparks was a perfect fit for me as I had waitressing experience however I met plenty of people who had no previous experience and were trained to provide a high level of VIP service or working in other areas. The easily accessed app meant I could plan in advance and decide when I wanted to work and where. I personally enjoyed working in Twickenham most so would make sure to sign up to as many matches and events held there. I worked in private boxes and the agency would do their best to keep the same staff in the same areas. A handy tip- there was always plenty of work going, no matter what venue you prefer, for November and December ensuring you have plenty of extra cash for Christmas!

Since leaving Brightsparks I have moved back to Ireland and returned to uni to study Primary Teaching. My experience and references from Brightsparks helped me to secure a part time job at home. From working in new venues and working with so many different people I feel more prepared for starting my teaching placement. I can be quite uncomfortable in new situations and was feeling quite daunted by the idea of walking into a new class, school, staffroom etc but I am far more confident now than I was before.

I highly recommend Brightsparks as an agency. They are easy going but professional which is difficult to find. Everyone was so friendly and accommodating and I hope to see them again.

Best of luck!

A great feature of the Brightsparks brand is that we attract candidates who are full of energy, who know how to conduct themselves professionally and can communicate with guests in an engaging manner.

That is why we are able to offer our Brightsparks to work in roles beyond hospitality.

We have had great success placing our team in conference roles as hosts, meeting and greeting guests; registering attendees and supporting the event operation.

Our Brightsparks also embody our ethos of “Performance with Personality”; this makes them ideal to support emerging and established brands as promotional staff, whether sampling a new snack bar or supporting an experiential activity.

Recent activities have included supplying experiential staff at London Design Week; sampling an emerging snacks brand in university cities; Box Office staff at the London Mela; Conference support staff at the QEII Conference Centre.

Traditionally, we have provided fabulous Brightsparks hospitality staff predominantly in and around London but now, due to our amazing tech developments, we are now able to offer Brightsparks in key cities throughout the UK!

This Summer, we have been busy at festivals & events up and down the Country. Our fantastic teams of bar and waiting staff have been supporting  at events & venues such as:

The Brighton Amex Stadium – Bristol Steel Yard – Goodwood Festival of Speed & Revival – Henley Regatta – Sefton Park (Liverpool) – Hillsborough Park (Sheffield) – Roundhay Park (Leeds) and many more!

Due to the nature of our recruitment process, we can now offer Brightsparks for hospitality, conference & promo roles in the following cities:

Birmingham – Brighton – Bristol – Edinburgh – Durham – Leeds – Liverpool – Manchester – Nottingham –  Newcastle – Norwich – Oxford – Sheffield as well as London!

Looking for staff? Look no further and get in touch with our awesome HQ team! HERE!

Episode 6

Jonny worked with us at a range of amazing events as well as going on to work directly with one of our clients as part of their F1 hospitality team!

Jonny: 2008 – 2012

It might be nearly a decade since I last worked with Brightsparks, but the work I did with them and the personality I developed have certainly contributed to the path my life has taken and continues to do so to the present day. From my time with Brightsparks, I was able to develop skills and personality traits that are not only useful in the professional world but can also be exhibited in social contexts; skills such as communication, man management, delegation, organisation and traits such as concentration, confidence, responsibility and respect for others. Lessons were sometimes learnt the hard way but were nevertheless taken on board for the better.

Undoubtedly, I am indebted to Brightsparks for the four years I spent working in Formula One in hospitality and logistics. Without a blend of the beforementioned skills and their good word of course, the opportunity, which I admittedly had never considered in a million years would never have become a reality. In this role, I was able to exhibit all these soft skills along with the hospitality itself; all this in far flung corners of the world such as Australia, Brazil, Canada and Japan. Working in a fast, high pressure F1 environment, working with not only your team, but the rest of the F1 community quickly became second nature which meant I was able to enjoy the experience even more.

To the present day, I still need to display the skills I developed with Brightsparks in working as a freelance translator and interpreter, while also developing this as my own business. Organisation and delegation/ man management are paramount, and communication and levels of professionalism have to be maintained in order to succeed. Working as an interpreter requires levels of concentration and confidence which can be developed working in the busy team environments provided by Brightsparks.

A lot of this has come from putting in the hours at all the different venues with Brightsparks. To end on a rather light note; the friends I worked with, and the fun experiences with them also play a huge contributing factor in what I have done and do now and probably what I will do in the future too and it is something I always made the most of.

Thank you Jonny and we wish you the best of luck with all future adventures!

Episode 5

Naomi is currently working as a receptionist and said that she re-lived some really nice memories whilst writing the below!

Naomi: December 2011 – June 2015

If I’m to be very honest i had no desire to work in hospitality before Brightsparks. I had just left college at the time and was desperate to work… until now, It’s been my best placement. I learnt how to work alongside a wide range of different people (including many difficult ones) and that strengthened my character to say the least. It’s something that I’ve taken with me everywhere. I’ve taken so much from my experiences but another important thing for me is the high standard that was expected from the Brightsparks. I remember that despite what agency was at an event, Brightsparks always held a strong reputation for good standards and outstanding staff. I admired that and it encouraged me to work more. Customer service skills are required everywhere and that’s something you’ll definitely find with Brightsparks. I can confidently say that my customer service skills that i gained while working with Brightsparks got me to where I am now

Naomi, we wish you all the best in the future and hope you continue to keep in touch!

Episode 4

In his year with us, this Brightspark had the opportunity to work at The Rugby World Cup, Corporate Dinners, Christmas Parties and Coldplay, throughout his time at university.

Andrew: October 2015-October 2016

“Brightsparks enabled me to see the value of teamwork and showed me that if everyone pulls their weight in a team, areas of work that may not initially be the most attractive to an individual can become truly enjoyable experiences where one can meet a wide variety of people from a wide range of backgrounds and work as one unit. Brightsparks seeks out the best roles for the individual and enables them to explore their own strengths and in the process, enables Brightsparks to work like a well oiled machine with immense job satisfaction, something that is a fundamental aspect of the kind of atmosphere the armed forces tries to achieve.

This is due to the outstanding professionalism and organisational skills and online resources that has built Brightsparks into the success story that it has become and I have no doubt, will push it forward for many years to come to reaffirm itself as the gold standard in agency hospitality services. The values which are a fundamental aspect of Brightsparks mission such as those of team work, inclusion and genuine care for the individual truly set it apart from the rest.

Personally, I believe that Brightsparks has shown me that participating wholeheartedly when working in a team and showing enthusiasm for anything you engage with will help you in any workplace environment. It has helped me to respect those whose job it is to ensure that an operation runs smoothly and understand that these people should be respected as they hold a great deal of responsibility for anything that may go wrong, should the team fall apart. I am currently completing my degree at Kings from where I hope to join the Royal Navy. I firmly believe that I have learnt a great deal from my time at Brightsparks about core values which will suit me well in both the application for the Royal Navy and any future employment. I thank you and the whole team at Brightsparks for placing your trust in me”.

We wish you all they very best in the future Andrew!

Our Service

Our recruitment, assessment and training process is rigorous and second to none within the industry. As we appeal largely to the Student Population, we focus on candidates’ soft skills including Work Ethic, Communication & Team-work and Presentation rather than CVs as we understand many candidates may be coming to us for their first job.

We provide dedicated Account Managers so clients and Brightsparks alike have direct access to someone in HQ who has the relevant knowledge at their finger-tips. Brightsparks will never feel just like a number, we encourage an open dialogue to ensure staff feel they can come to us with any concerns and take great care to get to know all new Brightsparks who work with us.

Regardless of a Brightspark’s age, we pay the National Living Wage to all staff as a minimum – we believe that if you are doing the same role with the same level of responsibility as someone else, you deserve to be paid the same.

Rates for our Clients are competitive and flexible and reflect the great level of service and staff that you receive.

Brightsparks are the only hospitality agency staff who can access their pay straight after their shift through Hasteepay which helps cash-flow and promotes consistency and promptness.

Where we work

We predominantly provide Brightsparks to venues in and around London but venture out for large events further afield. Our roles vary from Box waiters to bar staff at venues such as:

Stadiums – Read More

Prestigious Venues eg houses of Parliament & the London Eye


Festivals eg Wilderness & SW4

Racecourses – Read More

Christmas Parties – Read More

Summer Events season Venues – Read More

Who are our Brightsparks?

We like to keep in touch with our Brightsparks after they graduate and start full-time careers – here are some of their stories:







Contact us

If you would like to work with us, as a client or Brightspark, please get in touch!

Future Clients

Future Brightsparks

Isobel – Junior Account Manager

With over 8 years experience in the hospitality sector, as well as a degree in Event and Festival Management, Isobel can provide bountiful amounts of information when it comes to bar and waitressing work; with previous experience in managing multiple bars in her time as well as dabbling in restaurant management. Isobel balanced her time at university with working in the hospitality sector so she has a fantastic understanding what is required in a Brightspark!

Ryan – Junior Account Exec.

Ryan has more than 9 years expertise as an event coordinator, spearheading both major and small events, whilst also having a degree in Business and Management. In his previous professional roles he worked in many areas of a business, from training & recruitment to sales & marketing to operations & business development, meaning he can use his wealth of experience in helping to grow the Brightsparks brand and support its operation.

Pippa – Junior Account Exec.

Pippa went to university in Southampton to study film before moving to London in the Summer of 2019; she supported herself, like many Brightsparks do, with bar and waiting roles. Although she is a country girl at heart, she is adapting to city life well and cannot wait to meet more of our Brightsparks on site soon!

Caroline – Managing Director​

Caroline is approaching the 9-year mark with Brightsparks, growing from a talent consultant through to where she is now. Over her time here, she has touched on all areas of the business from training and account management to sales and marketing which allows her to have a thorough understanding of Brightsparks to drive its future growth and success.​

Brightsparks at Christmas

In late 2017, Brightsparks completed 1568 shifts at Christmas Parties ALONE – that is 14654 hours!

We provided waiting and bar staff for Google, ITV, JP Morgan, Freshfields, TK Maxx, the Ministry of Sound, Wellington College and the Police Ball.

Brightsparks is one of the main staffing agencies that we use because of the professionalism and​ willingness of the staff you continuously provide for us

K Laley, Head of Operations for Smart Hospitality

Brightsparks provides a consistent team to its core venues over the Christmas period as we know how important it is for managers and guests to see familiar faces to help each event run smoothly.

2019 sees Brightsparks continuing to provide key teams for Christmas Parties across the Capital, together with providing the team at the ice rink cafes at both the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace helping skaters and spectators to get into the festive mood!

Brightsparks at Festivals

Brightsparks has employed thousands of students and recent graduates, exactly those people who love festivals and know what makes them great.

Our Brightsparks have the energy, time and enthusiasm to provide the best service in a busy, dynamic environment.

We have experience recruiting,  training and placing Brightsparks at a plethora of festivals and concerts.

Brightsparks is committed to growing its team to provide the best experience to Clients and Guests.

We partner with bright sparks throughout both our summer festival season and winter concert venue season because they understand our need for consistently strong, dependable, happy staff for all roles, in all volumes, in all locations throughout the UK. 

Andrew Snell, Founder and Director, One Circle Events

They go the extra mile for us ensuring high retention deliverables are met, providing key on-site presence, reacting quickly and positively to any changing demands, and generally understanding our culture and championing us as a company.

Their dedication, attitude and reliable delivery is a rare find in this Industry and we look forward to working with them for years to come.

Some of the events at which our Brightsparks have worked:

Tramlines (Sheffield) – Adele – SW4 (London)  – U2 – Wilderness – Rolling Stones – Kew the Music – Eminem – Nocturne – Live @ Chelsea – Alexandra Palace – Fusion (Liverpool) – Ed Sheeran

Episode 3

This month, we look back to a Brightspark who also joined us at 18 and, over the next 5 years, he returned to us regularly when he was back from the States; he worked at venues we still support today including: Lords, Goodwood, Wembley, Twickenham and the Paris & Farnborough Airshows.

Will: August 2011-October 2016

I am now working as an Airline Pilot flying short haul across Europe. I began my work for Brightsparks during the last year of my A-level studies in 2011. After completing education I moved to Seattle, WA where I started my pilot training late 2012. I would return to the UK every 6/8months where I would pick up part time work with Brightsparks. 

I think Brightsparks can open many opportunities career wise, as well as develop skills that can translate well into other industries and career paths. 

When I started with Brightsparks, I was still a relatively quiet and reserved person, rarely instigating conversation. For me, hosting a box or looking after tables at events pushed me outside my comfort zone but did my confidence a world of good. While working at multiple events you’ll find that you interact with a huge variety of people, from varied backgrounds and nationalities. This helps improve interpersonal skills and communication techniques, as English isn’t always a first language for everyone. These skills translate perfectly into my current job as I fly with a different crew every day, of varied nationalities while operating into many different countries.

You may also find that some customers at events can actually give some great personal advice or if you’re lucky, a contact in your aspiring career path. It takes subtlety and tact to have those sorts of conversations while working, as after all the primary job is to serve the customer. But you may just find some of them are interested in your studies and aspirations and give you a few tips. You just never know.

While working the Paris air show I was fortunate enough to cross paths with the Marketing Director for Textron (parent company of several aircraft manufacturers). The long and the short of it, is that I was invited into their chalet during the event, as a guest and was introduced to their test and delivery pilots (after I’d finished work for the day). Though it didn’t lead directly to a job at this stage (as those positions need much more experience) it did lead to more LinkedIn contacts and a wider knowledge of the industry which can be invaluable at interview.

A lot of companies are doing competency based interviews, which if unprepared can be rather taxing. However, I think the experiences gained in Brightsparks can be used very effectively to answer these questions as ‘working with a team’ or ‘having to communicate effectively’ are all things that happen regularly in the events industry. 

Jumping straight into your dream job is becoming harder and harder. But having the option of ad hoc work like Brightsparks can be a great tool while hunting for a door into a career. Alternatively, it’s a great way to learn the events industry and build up your experience before moving into manager positions and beyond.”

We are a little in awe of Will here at Brightsparks and all he has achieved and wish him all the best!


Episode 2

The next instalment comes from a Brightspark who came to us at the tender age of 18 and remained working with us for 3.5 years whilst studying at Kings.

Jack: Oct 2012-March 2016

“I work as a Modern Foreign Languages teacher at a large, high-achieving secondary school in the south of England, teaching French and German to a huge variety of enthusiastic and engaged students. I have ended up in this position through my studies of Languages at University, where I worked part-time with Brightsparks (and often full-time – and then some! – during my long holiday periods).

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Brightsparks because of the range of places I got to work in, the variety of people that I met (both as colleagues and clients), and the hugely valuable people skills that I could hone even further, allowing me to be so confident in teaching and leading classrooms. I also got to travel around with Brightsparks, working venues not just in and around London, but also events in Chichester, Kent and Paris.

In my time at Brightsparks I was even able to progress within hospitality to being recruited as a Box Area Supervisor and helping with the supervision of large-scale events (for example the Christmas season at Battersea Evolution, where I was often a Section Supervisor).

Brightsparks taught me such a range of skills, reminded me of the importance of efficiency, proactivity, dedication and hard-work, and working with such a team was a truly wonderful experience that I would (and have!) recommended to many people since leaving”.

Jack has just arrived back from Kenya where he spent 2 weeks over his Easter holiday teaching Modern Foreign Languages, supporting the community and living as the locals live.

Episode 1

We often wonder what our Brightsparks go on to do when they move on from us. We have so many talented Brightsparks that it is not surprising that so many go on to do amazing things. We have contacted some past Brightsparks to catch up with them and see how their time at Brightsparks helped them to become who they are today. We will be telling their stories over the next few weeks, I hope you find them both interesting and useful!

Yazmin: June 2009-Oct 2013

I was a Brightspark light years ago now but it taught me everything I know today. Not only was it the roundest learning curve I ever had, it was also just a really fun time where I met some great people! Obviously, we worked hard and had some long hours but that’s where we made memories.

10 years down the line and I still remember them.

I studied a 4 year degree and the entire time I temped with Brightsparks all over London and the country!

Even when I graduated and had to get a big girl job, it was Brightsparks who found it for me and supported me on that journey. They found a match and four and a half years later I am still with the same company. I started as Duty Manager but now I am an Assistant General Manager of a branch of Wahaca. It’s a job I truly love and Brightsparks knew it would be a great love affair!”

Check back soon for the next instalment!

Brightsparks at Royal Ascot

  • 1,128 VIP hospitality shifts in 5 days​
  • 9,000 online training modules completed​
  • 60,000 miles commuted​
  • Overachieved on consistency​
  • Brightsparks impressed with exceptional quality staff​
  • 30% increased booking for 2017
  • 300,000 visitors in 5 days​
  • £6.58million in prize money​
  • 6,000 temporary staff​
  • 39 kitchens operational​
  • 400 helicopters​
  • 2,900 lobsters​
  • 50,000 macaroons​
  • 160,000 glasses of Pimm’s

Working with Raymond Blanc at the Chelsea Flower Show

The team’s objective is always to bring an element of joie de vivre to the, sometimes dry, world of corporate hospitality together with exceptional food and great conversation and to deliver an experience reflective of Raymond’s passion for seasonality, locality and great quality ingredients​

Our client has designed an experience, repeated and improved year-on-year to delight all guests from beginning to end, utilising our exceptional staff to bring this vision to life. We implement rigorous staff selection to provide the exceptional calibre of service expected by the clientele attending the exclusive venue: bright, engaging and proactive​.

Client Testimonial

It is always a great pleasure to work with the Brightsparks team. They always provide us with a professional hardworking team, who support us in delivering some of our amazing events, always with a smile. Brightsparks staff work across a number of our events and the staff work ethic and quality is some of the best I have seen – Thank you Brightsparks.

Lords & Oval Cricket Grounds

The Cricket World Cup has raised the profile of this sport in the UK and Brightsparks was excited to be involved in another global sporting competition having been key suppliers during the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup. Our Brightsparks worked in a number of hospitality roles from box waiters to bar staff and team waiters. Brightsparks has had a long and successful relationship with MCC Lords and has relished the opportunity to support at the Oval and look forward to many events together in the future.

Paris & Farnborough Airshows

There are  very few dates on the event calendar when so many multi-billion £ decisions are made within the space of a few days. Brightsparks supply a core team to provide hospitality throughout each airshow, both in the UK and in France; such important decisions should never be made on an empty stomach or a parched throat!

Henley Royal Regatta

The Summer Events Season would not be complete without a trip to Oxfordshire to watch others “messing about in boats”. Many pack up picnics and don blazer and boater to spend an enjoyable day on the River; others, in the same attire, prefer a more formal setting and our Brightsparks are on hand, in marquees set on the riverbank, to serve delicious dishes and refreshing beverages, all with a smile and personality to match the occasion.

Goodwood FOS & Revival

Summer, engines and dressing-up in vintage outfits, what’s not to love? Our Brightsparks, despite the very long hours, queue up to work at the loudest events of the Summer (even compared to the many festivals!). They relish the opportunity to show just how great Brightsparks are at providing great customer service, with the hospitality skills to match; working in areas such as Mercedes, Porsche, Veuve Clicquot and Sponsors.

Houses of Parliament

Working at this famous landmark and place of huge current and historic importance is an honour for Brightsparks chosen to represent us on the hospitality team for Banquets attended by influential individuals.

Exclusive Caterers

Brightsparks works with a number of exciting caterers who provide exquisite menus and experiences to their clients. Our Brightsparks have been chosen to work at some amazing venues including:

  • Kensington Palace
  • The Natural History Museum
  • Landing 42
  • One Marylebone
  • The Science Museum
  • The Ministry of Sound

Private & Charitable events

The personality of our Brightsparks makes them ideal to support at very small events, including private dinners at the home of UHNWIs or at intimate weddings where it is important to ensure the day is perfect and yet maintains a relaxed atmosphere.

A favourite charitable event for Brightsparks has been the Tiffany & Co Royal Charity Polo Cup​ At Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Estate, Watership Down.

This was a bespoke, invitation-only, event attended by celebrities & royalty to raise funds for 3 charities, close to Prince Henry of Wales’ heart. An auction of art including pieces by Banksy & Matisse, boosted funds and guests enjoyed a 3 course lunch, afternoon tea and cocktails whilst watching the Sport of Kings in action.  

More of Brightsparks’ Presigious Events:​

  • Film premiers inc Ab Fab​
  • Elite car brand launches​
  • Charity galas​
  • Gallery exhibitions at various locations​
  • Corporate golf & shooting days

Getting a Student Job – Why It Matters

We posted the below some time ago but it is still as relevant as ever. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing words from Brightsparks past and present on how part-time hospitality work with us has helped them both professionally and personally. If you have stories of your own that you think will help current and future Brightsparks, please let us know!

(Guest blog by Emma Mahdavi, staff member at Brightsparks)

Paying your way through university and building your CV at the same time, without it encroaching on your studies, can be challenging. Here’s why bagging yourself a student job is can help you.

The cost of University and all its expenses, whether these are academic, travel or personal, all start to add up. Student loans and overdrafts often don’t cover these, and it’s always good to have some spare cash. The best way to get this spare cash is taking up a student job and getting yourself into some part-time work. Less debt! I haven’t even neared my overdraft and money isn’t as scary a concept as it is for many of my friends who hide at the sight of their bank accounts. As university seems to have an ever growing social life which can be hard to keep up with at times – just a few hours paid each week can make a huge difference to your weekly budget.

Here are some of the top reasons to get a student job whilst studying:

  • Being able to show a future employer that you can balance work life and studies successfully will give off such a good impression and show responsibility. Time management and organisation are so important for any kind of work and this will be one of the best ways to gain these soft skills.
  • Whether it’s bar work, in a restaurant or retail, it’s all an experience! You probably don’t want to do whatever it is you’re doing part-time for the rest of your life but there are so many transferable skills and it does give you a taste of working life. Customer service, teamwork, work ethic, integrity and communication are all skills that you can transfer to any job role, and showing a potential employer that you have these, you’ll be onto a winner.
  • Being able to bulk up your CV with these small, part-time jobs or temp work is a real benefit. If you manage to work on a couple of contracts with respected companies, you’ll find it immediately makes your CV more impressive and could mean the difference between ending up on the Yes or No pile.
  • Getting your foot in the door and being able to network with different businesses and the people who work there; it’s not just what you know, it’s who you know. Whether it’s for references or meeting like-minded people who may be able to help you further down the line, you never know who you’re going to meet whilst at work.
  • Being able to afford to do so many lovely things during university. I took several day trips and weekends away to places like Budapest, Copenhagen, Milan, Venice and Amsterdam over the years when I could fit them between by studies and work life. There’s no way I could have done that without my wages, making all the hard work worth it… treat yourself!
  • Meeting new people from all over the world. I met so many amazing people who I would never have come across had I not worked. It’s comforting to know people who live in London that don’t just study here; people outside of the University bubble we tend to get ourselves into. It can also help improve confidence and social skills.
  • It gives you a break from everything else which is going on. I find work is the best way to keep my mind off things. Whether stressing over a grade or my flatmates annoying me, work was a getaway.
  • It’s such an accomplishment to come home at the end of the day and know you’ve made money, been productive and gained valuable experience that you wouldn’t have been able to do without work.

If you find an employer who understands your university commitments and is flexible enough to accommodate to your needs then you’re set, go for it… for me, Brightsparks fits that bill!

Find a student job today with Brightsparks.

Historically, graduate recruitment has taken a dip when economic times have been tough.

On one hand, this is entirely understandable – letting loyal employees go as you hire younger (and cheaper) models doesn’t do much for morale. On the other hand, there are a whole host of arguments to say that grad hiring during the next downturn (whenever that might be) could be a little more buoyant that it was previously.

When times get tough, companies need to get leaner and meaner. A decade ago, there was little that a recent grad could do to help in this regard, but with the advancements in tech and the advent of social media, hiring the right grad can potentially make all the difference.

If you are struggling with brand awareness, hiring someone who is well connected on social media could provide a template for everyone across the business. If your processes are convoluted and monotonous, having someone who understands how to implement various tech tools could mean some serious efficiencies. As increasingly more grads start working before they graduate, they have an immediate sense of “hustle” that previous grads may have lacked.

For a business that is letting people go at the top end, hiring a grad or two might be seen as a mistake, but wait for a minute and think about the implications of freezing your grad hiring for a few years…. Your middle managers will move up (and out), but will there be anyone who lives and breathes the culture to replace them? Not if you stop hiring. The risk of developing talent vacuum is always greatest in a recession – you might not be hiring the same volume of graduates, but not hiring any at all could well be a mistake.

However, you may well want to hire a different “type” of grad.

Coming into a business that is struggling against economic headwinds requires a certain type of attitude. Nothing will be handed to them on a plate, they will have to scrap for every development opportunity and every bit of knowledge. Everyone around them will be fighting for their careers, so unless they are adding value, they had better keep themselves to themselves. Starting a career in a recession is a tough ask for anyone, so it will be those who are particularly resilient and determined who will get through it.

The grads of today lived through the previous downturn and experienced first-hand what it did to their parents. They understand the value of hard work, and we are continuing to see some huge success stories of people entering a business and rapidly rising in seniority. We are not quite at the next downturn just yet, but when it does come I think that businesses will be surprised at just how ready their grads are to deal with it, add value and earn their place on the team.

Hiring grads in a downturn could be seen as a risk, but it is also an opportunity.

Starting at a new company can be a lonely time, but starting for your very first employer can be even lonelier.

Many fresh grads are not used to the norms of office behaviour, and while in a bigger company they might have a group of fellow grads to share their growing pains, in the mid-sized firms this is far from always the case. Their boss is there for them and their colleagues are as supportive as possible, but everyone has their own job to do, so it is all too easy for grads to feel moments of genuine loneliness.

Mental health is a huge issue for our society, and there are pivotal moments in life when people need particularly strong support. Leaving university and starting work is a huge upheaval, and employers need to recognise that in their first six months it is crucial to make a particular effort to make them feel at home.

The difficult thing is that people have a tendency to put on a brave face, so it is difficult to tell if a grad is experiencing loneliness. It is not, however, impossible.

The tell-tale signs start to appear after a while, and if they seem to intensify over time, then something must be done. When someone starts to eat lunch on their own, you have to question how close their feel to their colleagues. If someone starts to talk less in meetings you might question whether they feel that their voice is valued. If someone works with their head down while the banter is flying about the office, then you definitely have a problem.

Grads need to feel involved with the day-to-day running of the business, but due to their inexperience this is not always immediately the case. This is when isolation and loneliness can take root. Keeping them busy and allowing them to work alongside more experienced employees is a great way of getting them communicating with the wider team.

This is not something that can be discussed directly with a grad. Questioning their lack of involvement will make them even more insecure. It is better to tackle their environment and their activity – ensuring that they are tasked with interacting with as many others as possible. Much of the admin work given to grads is monotonous work that is accomplished alone, but without the more team oriented activities, they will soon become detached.

When we get feedback from our graduate placements, the ones who are flourishing are the ones who are involved across a broad spectrum of tasks. Their work brings them into contact with a wide range of people and they could not possibly feel lonely if they tried. It can be taxing to work closely with a recent grad, but if you spread the load across a broader range of people, the burden will not be so great.

If you encourage your grads to foster relationships with those around them, they will flourish. If they are starved of communication with their colleagues, they will wither

Ambition isn’t the only quality that a new grad brings with them on their first day, but that desire is often what will get them through those initial few testing months. They are starting out on a successful career, with no intention of failing.

Such an attitude can be a little intense for those around them, and in their enthusiasm to make a difference can sometimes overstep the boundaries of their place in the organisation. Some clients are nervous about taking on grads for this very reason – they fear that their ambition will destabilise teams and unsettle harmonious relationships.

Does this happen? Well, yes.

Is it a problem? Not necessarily.

When the people ecosystem within the team is well-balanced, any disruption might be seen as a hindrance. However, as with any stagnant pond, stirring things up every now and again is not always a bad thing. When our behaviour is challenged, we tend to be that little bit more introspective.

The raw enthusiasm of a new grad can often cause an established team to look at the way it functions. Certain things won’t be broken and won’t need fixing (so the grad needs to judge when to keep their mouth shut), but there will be more aspects than you think which could do with a slightly different approach. The famed millennial generation are digital natives, and many of these “new ways” are somehow bound to the use of technology.

If managed correctly, rocking the boat can take a team to the next level.

The difference lies in how this ambition is channelled. If the graduate is only put for themselves at the expense of others, then this disruption will almost certainly be harmful to the people around them. If, however, they have the needs of the team at the front of their mind, then any number of their ideas could prove to be the missing link to help everyone work that little bit better. Ambition doesn’t have to be about the self, it can also be channelled towards the needs of the collective.

You can tell a lot about the approach of a grad when you chat to them at interview. The classic first person / third person speech clues still ring true. If they are talking about themselves a lot, they probably think about themselves a lot. If they talk about how they have made an impact on those around them, they will be more likely to be team players. We employ thousands of students in the hospitality industry, then place them into their first roles, so we know the importance of team players.

It is natural that certain grads will join a business and start a meteoric rise. That is why you hire them in the first place. However, in the best-case scenarios they will also take any number of their colleagues along for the ride, helping them to raise their game to heights that they would not have reached without the grad pushing them further.

Hiring a few grads every year is a great strategy for a growing business.

What impact did your last few grads make?

Too many grads worry about their lack of direction when they are starting out on their careers. They work with us in hospitality roles during their studies, but when the moment comes to make that “big” decision, many adopt the look of a rabbit in the headlights.

After an academic career of certainty and achievement, the vast choice that life can offer them seems confusing and utterly uncertain. That’s okay.

We spend a lot of time with people looking at their personal preferences and thinking about which careers (and industries) might be best suited for them. The majority won’t be short of offers, but for most it somehow seems to be such a monumental decision. They think that their first job will dictate their first few roles, but this is far from always the case.

In an ideal world a grad will make the right decision, first time, but as long as you stick with your first job for a few years and make enough of an impact, it is entirely acceptable to consider a career change if you don’t feel that you have got things right. A second or a third employer will understand this, and with so many vital skills being transferrable these days, changing industries or functional specialities is nearly always possible for someone with the right attitude and personal qualities.

If, therefore, we assume that your first job isn’t necessarily for life in terms of industry and function, what should a grad look for in their first role?

Well, for me, the culture of a company plays an incredibly important role. If the grad doesn’t not feel quite at home in terms of their activity, a good cultural fit is vital to smooth over those few difficult days. If a grad gets on with their colleagues and feels at home, then they will be far more likely to want to make their difference.

It is also important that there aren’t too many initial compromises. Putting yourself under pressure with a lengthy commute isn’t advisable, and living beyond your means in the assumption that you will get a swift promotion is also a recipe for disaster. If you take the “sensible” offer that seems closest to your situation and your aspirations, you won’t go far wrong.

Also, many companies are incredibly flexible when it becomes clear that you aren’t quite flourishing in your chosen area. They may well see the potential to move you to a new function, but they can’t do this unless you let them know. Suffering in silence is the worst thing that you can do – you won’t be productive and they won’t understand why. Honesty is the best policy and they would much rather have you doing something that you are passionate about. Many people move from sales to marketing for example – when it is early on in your career, it isn’t such a big step.

Your career path may not be clear in those first few years and many people will change multiple times over the first couple of decades. That’s okay, it’s perfectly acceptable – just be honest with yourself and with those around you – you’ll find the optimal solution.