Sifting through a mountain of CVs when you’re recruiting can be an exhausting and unrewarding experience. If you tend to rely on impressive internships as the best way to identify a good candidate, you won’t be alone. However, a showy work placement taken on its own is never going to give you the full picture of an applicant’s potential. This is why PiC has developed a Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) which, amongst other things, takes into account a candidate’s achievements in the context of their background.

Two A*AA candidates

Let’s take an example. Two candidates achieved A*AA grades at their respective schools and went on to take internships. However the work placement of the first candidate was clearly more prestigious than that of the second. Normally at this point we have clear parameters of elimination - and that second candidate’s CV is probably heading for the no pile.

What is PiC’s SEB Rank?

But by taking these facts in isolation, the real significance of the candidates’ accomplishments may be inaccurately assessed and the picture distorted. It’s for exactly this situation that at PiC we developed our unique SEB (socio-economic background) Rank measure. It’s an incisive new method of measuring the extent to which one individual’s upbringing and educational background was more advantaged than their peers growing up. A SEB rank takes into account a wealth of important data, such as the deprivation of the area surrounding a person’s home, as well as the status of their school (combining examination results and the level of deprivation in which that school is located.)

What SEB Rank reveals about the two A*AA candidates

So let’s try reframing the example of our high-achieving candidates with SEB Rank. Now we come to understand that the first candidate achieved their A*AA when they were more advantaged than 95% of everyone else their age growing up or in other words, in the most advantaged 5%. The second candidate garnered the same grades and was in the most disadvantaged 40% of everyone else their age growing up. Distilled further, Candidate 1 has a SEB rank of 95, and Candidate 2 has one of 40.

A more informed view of the two A*AA candidates

The picture now looks radically different. Social-economic advantage is more often accompanied by top echelon contacts and access, so Candidate 1’s impressive work placement may not seem quite so impressive. Candidate 2, on the other hand, has had to overcome many more hurdles to get to this point. They are likely not to have enjoyed the kind of career introductions that Candidate 1 may have and will probably have had to fight harder for their internship.

Multiple benefits

When you’re armed with the bigger picture, making those tough recruitment decisions becomes faster, less exhausting and more rewarding. That invaluable SEB rank can help you sort through those marginal candidates or just get you through that pile of resumes more efficiently. And, of course, by applying a more nuanced way of assessing merit, your organisation will be helping to make business more meritocratic and improve access.

Can’t say fairer than that, right?