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Hiring at CDS: How we make it work in a start-up environment

There’s a lot of interest on how we are recruiting and staffing up a digital services team that can hit the ground running and help solve service challenges across the Government. This is why I am super excited to be writing a blog post about our hiring practices at CDS.

We are recruiting talent from inside and outside the public service at the grandest scale: globally, nationally and locally. We want to bring together the best: highly skilled people who are motivated to do mission driven work that will make a positive impact.

We are hiring on many fronts with a heavy focus on bringing in technologists who work in the open. Our current goal is to build eight multidisciplinary project teams that includes product managers, developers, data scientists and service designers. For more information on CDS recruitment, check out the revamped Work with us page. In keeping with our philosophy to recruit talent to undertake “tours of duty”, we hire people for specific projects and not necessarily for a career in the federal public service. That means our process for staffing is different from a more traditional approach to hiring en masse. Our recruitment process is ongoing and we have dedicated teams responsible for screening, interviewing and evaluating candidates.

It’s important that we are able to staff “just in time” and we have made use of the various staffing flexibilities available to the public service. By working closely with our HR partners we have hired over 30 people since our launch this past July. This includes casual and term appointments, secondments, students as well as Interchange hires. By next spring, we expect to be at or above 50 hires.

Here’s a brief summary on the various staffing methods we are using:

Casual Hire – the quickest way to staff up our team and a great way to evaluate whether or not the individual is a good fit for CDS (and vice-versa). A casual hire provides an employment opportunity for up to 90 business days (just over four months).

Term Hire – a term hire can be used for a longer period of employment. We are hiring terms for one year or longer depending on the position being staffed. A term position brings along with it benefits such as a pension, dental and health insurance.

Many of our initial hires were staffed as casual workers followed by term appointments.

Secondment – this is how we are bringing in government talent. A secondment allows us to “borrow” a public servant for a period of time that can range from a few months to a year or longer. The individual remains permanently employed with their home department and eventually returns to their home position. While they work for CDS we pay for their salary and any other expenses like training or travel.

Interchange – the Interchange Program is a terrific way to hire talent in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors and works much the same way as a secondment. Just as with a secondment, the individual remains employed with their home organization and is seconded to CDS. We match the home organization’s salary and benefits.

We expect to be making use of Interchange for all kinds of recruitment as it is a great way to mobilize talent, build capacity through temporary assignments, enrich jobs and exchange skills.

If you are interested in knowing more about how CDS is using Interchange to build capacity, keep an eye on our blog. John Millons is preparing a post on that topic, which will feature our partnership with Code for Canada.

Students – CDS has already benefitted from hiring students through internship and COOP programs as well as via the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP).

There’s a lot to talk about and a lot to share. We’ll be sure to continue this discussion as we onboard more talent from a diversity of disciplines, using a versatile approach to building CDS in the best way possible.

Do you have questions or comments on our recruitment practices? What kind of recruitment and staffing approaches do you think work well? Are there other ways to be agile in recruiting and hiring in the public service? Let us know.