Last May, our HR team helped the Development and Portfolio Directorates to run a recruitment open day. We wanted to encourage people to come and find out more about jobs at PDS and what the Digital Service is all about. By doing this event, we employed five people out of the 80 that attended.
Due to the success of this event, Emma Allen, Director of Digital Development, suggested that we have a stand at Silicon Milkroundabout. In August, we got the ball rolling and within a week we had booked a stand. We then formed a working group with people from PDS to help plan and organise the event. During the event and the organisation, we really felt like we were living the principles of our Digital Strategy.
Unity without uniformity/Collaboration culture
Our first meeting was to discuss what we wanted our stand to look like. Giant 3D Big Ben, Lego Big Ben, dress Dan Barrett up as Big Ben because he’s tall, recreate the House of Commons Chamber. And the list goes on. We all had different ideas but it was clear to us all that this was going to be fun to work on and we were clear on our goal.
Other PDS colleagues also provided help and support. We got help sourcing devices to use at the event, promoting the event on social media, getting our jobs live so people could apply straight away, arranging a staff rota for the event and so many other things.
We also had help from people across Parliament. We collaborated with the House of Commons Logistics Team to organise a van. The House of Commons Diversity & Inclusion Team and the Visitor Services team to borrow their replica green bench. Print Procurement and Print Services to get banners designed and made and also to get promotional material for the event. The in-house Services department to help us move things around. Thanks so much to everyone who helped!
The success of the event highlighted the fantastic collaboration between our HR and Development teams and also within the wider organisation.
Putting users’ first
We did some user research with staff that had attended the event before. We wanted to get a better idea of what they found useful so that we could try and make our stand and promotional material as eye-catching as possible. We also used the material provided by Silicon Milkroundabout to get some ideas for our stand and how to capture people's information. This gave us a really good insight into what to expect and what we needed to prepare.
Focus on our core work
At the event we wanted to talk about the great work that we do. We decided to showcase some of our business applications such as Hansard Online and Commons Votes. We also talked about some unique and interesting projects we’re working on: Debug Democracy!, Build a better parliament.uk, Digitise the Vote and Digital Democracy and what an exciting time it is to join Parliament at the moment.
We’ll be having a retrospective to capture the lessons that we learned planning for and attending this event. When we were at the event we also spent a bit of time getting ideas from other stands so that we can adapt and change some things for next time.
We kept it simple with the apps that we showcased because we quickly learned that people wanted to talk to us and find out what it was like to work for the Digital Service. They also needed a bit more information on the jobs we have available.
Be where people are/Experts in what we do
We went to where the tech talent goes to find jobs and to find out more about hiring companies. We had a team of experts from Digital Development to talk about the great jobs that they do, the roles in their teams and why you would want to join our fantastic team.
We’re open and honest in both our job adverts and in the way we talked to all the people that came to see us about our jobs. We talked about what the culture is like, what they would be working on in our teams and we encouraged them to also be open and honest about their skills and what they want to achieve. In addition, we approached other public sector stands at the event to ask them if they could refer interested candidates to our stand and we would do the same in return. This had a really positive impact.
All in all, it was a great success. 150 people registered their interest and 50 people left us their CVs. One person had even completed their CV and covering letter and handed their application to us. We’re confident that lots of people will apply for our jobs and we’ll keep you posted on the stats.
Finally, a huge thank you to everyone from PDS who helped in some way or another. You really showed what teamwork can achieve and made the event even better.