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Trying new things and making recruitment better

Recruitment task force ideas written on a whiteboard
The task force ideas for the PDS blog

At the end of August, the development team set up a recruitment task force. Our aim was to research and test ideas on how to improve recruitment at PDS, initially for developer/data roles. We looked at how to improve the whole process from job descriptions through to the induction stage. We started out with some goals and aspirations.

Our main goal is to improve the recruitment process and raise the quality and quantity of applicants.

Our aspirations are to:

  1. create a pleasurable, seamless and understandable recruitment process for all involved
  2. engage recruiting managers
  3. attract the right talent
  4. be brutally honest about the job and the culture
  5. showcase our work by showing real people doing real jobs
  6. give our staff the career progression they need

Here’s what we did

We did some research using the internet, Twitter, Stack Overflow, developers in our team and colleagues from other organisations recruiting to similar roles.

We tried out different advert formats and joined webinars to see what makes a developer apply for a role when they see a job advert. We worked with the content team on branding and the format of adverts. We also created a plan for writing blog posts to help promote the work we do.

We worked with recruiting managers to get them engaged in the recruitment process. User journeys were mapped out to see where we could simplify and speed up the process for the recruiting manager.

For the Silicon Milkroundabout event we made sure that all jobs were open for applicants to apply to immediately.

When it came to interviews we tried out a more conversational approach.

We collected feedback from new starters and line managers on our induction process. We also encouraged line managers to contact the successful candidates while they were going through the security checks (this can take a while at Parliament). New starters were invited to meet their new team and got the chance to ask for help or for things they might need before starting their new role. This also made them feel like they hadn’t been forgotten.

Here’s what we achieved

For a developer role, the number of people applying increased by 20 applications. Previously, we had two applicants in two months. Using different ways of advertising the job and updating the job advert helped us to increase the number of applicants by 18 people in just two weeks.

We ran the Data Analyst job description through a tool to help with gender neutral advertising. This really helped us think about the language we're using in our adverts. For this role, 23% of the applicants were female and the shortlist for interviews was 50% male, 50% female.

We also created a page on the blog that talks about the Digital Service values and aspirations and a link to the jobs being advertised.

200 people who went to Silicon Milkroundabout event registered their interest in working at PDS. The feedback from applicants was really positive about our brand and our staff. The people on the stand came across as really friendly and informative.

We've had positive feedback from HR on our induction process for new starters.

All recruiting managers in PDS are now using our advert format and they can try out new things if they want to.

HR have used the ideas from the journey mapping exercise to help improve the recruitment process.

Things we’ve learned

Use your staff to help you

They’ve been through various recruitment processes so build on their experience.

Learn from others

People from other organisations, Stack Overflow and companies that are successful with their recruitment were really helpful for us.

Try new things

As long as it doesn’t break any fundamental HR rules (and always check with your HR team first)

Show the culture

Applicants like to know what the culture is like and what they’ll be working on in the team. We found that people can get scared off by lots of technical requirements.

Be honest

Potential applicants appreciate honesty about the role, the working environment and the technology they’ll be using.

Next steps

We need to work on promoting our brand, our people and our culture through various digital channels.

We'll also be updating and improving the jobs page on the current Parliament website.

We want to create a job/family matrix. This means mapping out career paths in the development team and the skills staff will need to progress.

Interested in working at PDS? Take a look at our current PDS vacancies

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Julia Vanoli posted on

    a fantastic article great advice and tips for any recruiter