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https://dfedigital.blog.gov.uk/2022/01/18/design-open-sessions/

Being open about our design community and how we recruit

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Careers, community of practice, design, recruitment

Designer Rinto Cyriac smiling. Text beside him reads "We design to make a positive impact on society."

Now more than ever, there are lots of great opportunities to make a difference in a digital or technology role as a member of a community of practice.

We're looking for people with the right skills and approach who want to grow and develop. And we are looking for people from a range of backgrounds.

What is an open session?

To encourage people to apply for our design roles, we ran our first design open sessions.

These were open to everyone – people of all genders, ages, sexual orientations, nationalities, religions, and beliefs.

It was an online meet and greet with DfE designers who showed their work and talked about our culture and ways of working.

But it wasn’t just about us selling ourselves. We took our guests through the many benefits of working within the Civil Service, and we explained how the application process works.

Our guests could ask us anything they wanted, to see if the DfE's design community is the right fit for them.

It was also a chance for them to ask for feedback on their portfolios.

A format that suits introverts too

Open days are often face to face, and we weren’t 100% sure if doing this online would work. It turns out the online format was more personal, focused, and suited introverts.

No one needed to have their camera on or speak, if they didn’t want to.

We used Slido for questions. It was our guests’ chance to ask any of the awkward questions they may not dare to ask at an interview.

Demystifying the Civil Service

Designer Katharine Beer smiling. Text besides her reads, "Come and ask the awkward questions you might not dare to ask in an interview"

By supporting potential job applicants we can set them up for success.

The Civil Service recruitment process differs from other sectors and we explained why this was and what to expect.

We shed light on how the Civil Service pay grades and salary structure map across to those in other sectors. We explained that it's ok to use notes in your interview – if candidates feel comfortable, they are more likely to shine. And the reason we ask probing follow-up questions to your answers, is to get the best out of people.

Designers' personal insights

Four of our designers shared some fascinating insight into their work as members of the DfE design community.

Designer, Chris Hewison, shared 6 things he’s learned from working in government:

  • don’t make assumptions
  • you’ll meet real users with real needs
  • tell a story like a maths equation–show your workings out
  • you don’t need to be able to code but it helps
  • you work with some great people
  • design is a team sport

Striking the right chord with our guests

The words most commonly used in the feedback from our guests were:

  • informative
  • useful
  • enjoyed
  • inspiring
  • transparent, open and frank

Being transparent and open is one of the UK government’s design principles so we were delighted that this came across loud and clear.

Our job descriptions are now on github. Anyone can contribute to these to make them more relevant to designers in different sectors.

Here's some feedback from our guests about these sessions, and their impressions of our design community.

Kudos to @jaskirankdesign and the @DfE_DigitalTech team for opening the doors and hosting a webinar showing how they work and designing in the public sector.

Been really useful - thank you - be great to see a similar content design session but this has been super useful to extrapolate from.

Sounds like a lovely place to work!

It's been really informative and I’ll look out for your job ads in the new year.

I am really inspired.

I appreciate how transparent it has been.

We're hiring

designer Nicky Arnold smiling. Text alongside her photo reads "the design community has been integral to my learning and development"

We're advertising for designers now. Find out more and how to apply.

Also, look out for #ServicesWeek. Our designers will be taking part in this cross-government event, showcasing their work and culture.

We’ll be blogging more about our design community’s main strands of work (we call these our design imperatives) very soon.

Get in touch

If you’d like to ask a question about how we work, the services we design, our culture, or applying for future roles, please get in touch on Twitter or through Linkedin.

The DfE Digital and Technology community team hope to run open sessions for our other professional communities this year.

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