How WithYouWithMe is helping Leidos to look beyond the CV, by recruiting for personality and potential
When Kevin Noakes applied for his role as director of information services in Leidos’ logistics division, the interview panel told him that he wasn’t what they’d been looking for – but this was only because they hadn’t realised someone like him existed.
As a former Royal Navy weapons engineer, Noakes may not have had a career history in logistics. But Leidos recognised that his transferable skill set, gained by spending the past several years leading the design and development of the UK’s marine combat systems, would be much more valuable than a job-specific knowledge base.
“I’d been running a business of around 400 people, working with a large number of industry contractors to manage over 250 IT systems”, he explains. “What I think they were really looking for was that understanding of how to run complex information systems and how to manage risks.”
Now on the other side of Leidos’ hiring decisions, Noakes is pioneering our partnership with technology training and recruitment company, WithYouWithMe, in an effort to recruit a more diverse array of new hires, such as refugees, young people, or neurodivergent individuals, whose employment history may not fit so neatly into a pre-determined job specification.
, Information Services Director, Leidos
The big difference is that there are no CVs. What we receive is a psychometric test report that reflects the individuals’ personality profile and their potential for developing technical skills.
Of the ten people we’re taking on through WithYouWithMe, four are women, one is a veteran, and five are non-UK nationals.
Beyond this initial pilot, Leidos is also taking part in WithYouWithMe’s 15,000 futures programme, which seeks to provide meaningful employment for the 15,000 people who leave the UK armed forces every year. As WithYouWithMe’s testing shows, 67% of veterans have the same aptitude traits as the best software engineers – but unlike the average software engineer, they also come with security clearance.
“My biggest struggle when recruiting is finding people with the skillset that we need who we’re also able to get security clearance for,” Noakes explains. “So we’ve started taking the attitude of looking for people who already have security clearance and investing in training them up instead.”
In addition to helping match potential employees to suitable roles, WithYouWithMe also helps provide this initial training, with recruits remaining under the organisation’s umbrella for their first year whilst also working at Leidos and gaining the specific skills and experience needed to thrive in a particular business area.
“These people aren’t going to turn up on day one and hit the ground running, but what WithYouWithMe allows us to do is take a different approach to recruitment,” Noakes explains. “We’ve traditionally waited until we’ve seen new work demands and then tried to find people to fill these roles. But those people don’t exist, and we can’t just create them overnight. The best thing to do is to take a risk-informed decision to pre-emptively recruit people and train them up in advance so that when new work arrives, they’re ready to go.”
The data from WithYouWithMe indicate that it’s a risk worth taking, with 97.5% of trainees remaining with their placement company after that initial year is up and staying at that company for an average of 4.75 years.
For Noakes, those impressive retention figures set WithYouWithMe apart from other training providers. Still, he firmly believes that the success of this initial trial also depends upon him and his team taking personal ownership of these individuals’ growth and success.
“I want to be having a coffee with them every Friday so that I can ask them how it's going and whether there are any issues we can address,” he says. “The three words I always use are inspire, value and empower, and for this to succeed, it’s so important that everyone within the Leidos Logistics team commits to making these people feel part of the company and showing that we are invested in them.”