Contextualised recruitment helps you uncover what external factors may have contributed to a candidate’s grades and experience, and helps firms identify self-motivated, driven, outperformers. The fact that an individual has had to overcome a lot of barriers to achieve a certain outcome demonstrates they might well have performed even better if those barriers were removed.

What's happening in the background?
The role of an employer when it comes to social mobility

It's important for employers to be open to using some sort of process to factor in social mobility initiatives, especially as universities have been operating contextualised admissions schemes for some time. If employers do not engage, students who have gained access to study law through a contextualised process will find that their opportunities are limited at the traineeship recruitment stage, therefore the positive work to support social mobility is undone.

There are various ways employers can make small steps to recruit more responsibly, such as not requiring school grades, undertaking blind recruitment, or relying on skills-based tasks in their assessment of candidates.

However, there are two major limitations here: 

1. These processes rely on a certain degree of subjectivity at various stages of assessing a candidate.

2. To contextualise a candidate and take their socio-economic circumstances into account, you need the candidate to tell you what they are. This is why blind recruitment is only a positive step up to a point. It will remove the risk of discrimination of candidates which is positive for your equality and diversity agenda, but it won't allow for out-performing candidates to be noticed, therefore limiting your impact on social mobility. As an example, if we look at our candidate in the graphic above who achieved a 2:1 while juggling complex personal circumstances, they would not benefit from blind recruitment as these factors would remain unseen.

Contextualised recruitment software is available on the market, which helps employers understand the barriers that a candidate has overcome, allowing for a fairer assessment of their abilities.

Bringing contextualised recruitment software to Scotland via Rare

To give our legal employers access to contextualised recruitment software, we've launched a partnership with Rare. Any legal employer who recruits below 10 trainees per annum is eligible to join the programme, until our scheme is full. A cost is charged per trainee recruited, therefore even employers taking on one or two trainees can participate for a small cost.

This is a new type of relationship for Rare to participate in and we are keen to bring an affordable product to the Scottish market that will have a robust impact on social mobility. We hope to influence other professions and jurisdictions to follow suit.

How Rare's system works

When using the Rare system as part of your recruitment process, applicants complete a small number of questions relating to their socio-economic background, such as the receipt of free school meals, having been in care or a carer, which school they attended and the home postcode they grew up in.

Rare’s system measures two things; academic outperformance and disadvantage.

The system helps firms identify gritty, resilient outperformers and ensures candidates applications are reviewed in light of their wider personal circumstances.

More about Rare

Rare is a multi award-winning diversity company. Their cutting-edge data services help their clients make better hiring decisions. In the UK, organisations using the system have achieved a 50% increase in hires from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Their contextualised recruitment system is the result of two years of intense research and close collaboration with world-class universities and global employers.

Read more about Rare's impact.

Find out more about participating in our scheme with Rare

Please get in touch with our Head of Careers & Outreach Heather McKendrick at