Charles Taylor’s career app ‘Debut’ is reinventing how students apply for jobs – A new role can start from just simply playing a mobile game.
The interactive mobile app, for both students and graduates, provides an alternative process to the current system of using a career’s website or job boards.
Charles, 25, was inspired to close the gap within the student recruitment landscape by making it easier for both students and employers to find each other.
“I’m solving a problem I’m truly excited about”
“My family have always encouraged me to pursue my passion. Their belief and enthusiasm in the idea, behind the business, drove me to use the knowledge I’d gained through my career at Ernst and Young to take the plunge and found Debut.
As a result, I’m now solving a problem I’m truly excited about – closing the innovation chasm within the student recruitment landscape and connecting students and employers to help them find both the careers they love and the talent they need to succeed.
I created Debut because it’s something I wish I’d had access to when I was at university.
When I was in my last year of studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at University of York, I applied to 40 different graduate jobs and attended 10 assessment centre days.
The whole application process was laborious and outdated.
I could see how we were all using our smartphones to order food, date, shop and connect with each other and thought why can’t we do this to find a career – Mobile apps offer a personal, exclusive and exciting user experience.
I also knew that 20 per cent of students didn’t even own a tablet or a laptop, so it was clear to me that there was an opportunity to bring careers into mobile and make it as compelling as other mobile apps.
I thought – Wouldn’t it be great if we could sign up to an app once and then employers could come to us, instead of us going to them. Wouldn’t it be even more amazing if we could play a game to win an internship. And so the idea of Debut was born.
Debut officially launched in the UK in November 2015 and it’s the world’s first careers app for students.
Students are the most mobile audience in the world, but until now employers have been unable to reach the student population via this medium.
With thousands of students battling it out for jobs and internships year on year, the application process has become tedious and repetitive.
In 2014, almost 500,000 applications from students at just 30 universities inundated 100 companies. Yet despite the volume, 150,000 vacancies went unfilled.
As a result, students are becoming disillusioned and leading businesses are not recruiting the talent they need.
To solve this problem, we created Debut to provide students and graduates with a completely different, interactive job-seeking alternative to those currently found on static careers websites and job boards.
“Time is money when running a startup”
The idea is that students can sign up to Debut once in just a couple of minutes and they are then connected to over 40 global employers and a wealth of opportunities.
The app’s ‘Talent Spot‘ feature enables employers to send students invitations to events and interviews or even fast-track candidates to assessment centres, directly on their mobile.
With Debut, students can land roles in blue chip companies simply by playing mobile games. The in-app games test users’ aptitude in different skills.
For instance, ‘The Seeker’ from L’Oréal was a free running game where players could navigate a maze exploring different aspects of the brand. Multiple steps in the recruitment process were skipped by the highest scorers, with the overall winner of the game landing a paid internship at the cosmetic giant.
For employers, the app offers unrivalled engagement with the most digitally connected generation through their preferred medium, their smartphone. In addition, there’s an advanced targeting function that the employers can use to look for candidates.
This unparalleled link to millennials makes it quicker and easier for student employers to reach a much broader talent pool beyond traditional universities.
Our vision is for Debut to become the number one global app for student careers. We already have a number of exciting new features coming to the app and there are lots more games on the way.
Our priority for now is to build a product that will benefit as many employers and students as possible and enable them to find a career they will love and the talent that they need.
“Put 100% of your energy into turning your idea into reality”
The inspiration to start out on my own was born from my hunger to make an idea I genuinely believe in a reality and create a tool, which can be used by thousands of people to make a real difference to their lives, regardless of their background.
A highlight for me is seeing the product we created, from scratch, being used both by global companies in their recruitment processes and by students who are using the app to secure exciting employment opportunities, that they would never have considered even applying for.
Since founding Debut, I’ve learnt that starting a business from scratch requires a huge amount of organisation, resilience, commitment and self-motivation.
Technology moves at an incredible speed and the phrase ‘time is money’ holds true – especially when you’re running a startup.
For me, in order to keep on top of the constantly evolving landscape, improving my time-management and organisation skills has been a vital learning curve.
Planning future projects in advance, ensuring the schedules we’ve made are achievable and ultimately sticking to them have been amongst the biggest challenges we’ve faced.
Lots of people come up with good ideas and are often recognised for it but what often goes unseen is the ability to take an idea and execute it well, with constant perseverance.
This is really where the hard work lies and differentiates those that succeed with those that don’t.”
Advice for others – “Identify a problem which actually needs to be solved. Once you’ve established the business need, don’t hold back – Put 100% of your energy and belief into turning your idea into a reality, by constantly improving execution.”