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        Department for Work & Pensions

        Department for Work & Pensions

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        Department for Work & Pensions

        Department for Work & Pensions is the Government’s largest Department, with multiple office locations, including London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Blackpool and Sheffield.

        Between March 2022 – March 2023, Allen Lane was retained as the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) Digital’s SCS DDaT recruitment agency via CCS Framework RM6002 (RM6290’s predecessor).

        Contract award was supported by our demonstrable success of recruiting the SCS2 CDIO post at the FCDO and 15 G6 permanent hires at the DBS. Vacancies at DWP Digital included:

        • Head of Engineering, SCS1
        • Dept Director Identity & Trust, SCS1
        • Head of Digital Security, SCS1
        • Head of Performance & Planning, SCS1
        • Head of Digital Corporate Services, SCS1
        • Director Digital Shared Platforms, SCS2
        • Head of Data Platforms & Services, SCS1

        The challenge

        The sheer scale and complexity of DWP as a Department, with over 90,000 employees, was both a challenge and opportunity from a recruitment perspective. Across all vacancies, there was significant interest to join one of the Great Departments of State (for example, 75 applied for the Head of Data Platforms & Services vacancy). However, applicants would often struggle to demonstrate track record of operating in similarly large organisations – some of the roles had leadership responsibility over 50-100 employees.

        The many Hub Locations utilised by DWP also presented a challenge, whereby each vacancy would be available from multiple locations. Of the roles listed above, only one was given approval to be recruited to with a London location available – this aligned to the Department’s ambition to grow their leadership community away from London and the South-East.

        Our approach

        The overarching recruitment contract was administered through DWP’s internal SCS recruitment team, who would set up each panel and introduce us to the hiring manager for each individual campaign. Throughout the engagement of the contract, Ed at Allen Lane built a collaborative working relationship with the DWP recruitment team, meeting them on a weekly basis during a ‘live’ recruitment campaigns, and on a monthly basis in the intervening periods to horizon scan and plan for future campaigns. Allen Lane regularly provided support and guidance on candidate pack content and interview presentation/SEE topic suggestions.

        The results

        7 of the 8 vacancies were successfully recruited to, with only the Head of Engineering being paused at shortlist stage due to internal restructuring (2 of the shortlisted candidates went on to secure SCS1 posts in other Government Departments shortly after). Each shortlist contained gender and ethnicity diversity, 3 of the 7 appointments made were with female applicants. Two recruitment processes also yielded candidates subsequently interviews for G6 roles.

        Lessons learned

        Despite the excellent collaboration with DWP’s internal recruitment team, some of the recruitment campaigns were often drawn-out processes over 3+ months. This created challenges around ensuring continued candidate engagement in lengthy and demanding processes, which was mitigated by proactively explaining the timeline to candidates and weekly engagement. There was also a reluctance for DWP to utilise the full salary range for a role (e.g. Head of Engineering could not pay beyond £90,000), despite our efforts to advise on market rates – at the time, GDS were appointing to the same job title at up to £110,000. To mitigate the risk of losing candidates at offer stage due to a lower than expected salary, Allen Lane were proactive in explaining the limitations of the salary available (despite the top of the SCS1 grade being much higher) and reinforced the many benefits of joining the Department and Civil Service.

        See more case studies for organisations within Central Government.