Testing my top 10 tips against the Government Chief Digital Officer job description

Yesterday I published the top 10 tips that came out of my research into job ads and descriptions for DDaT roles in public service. Then the new Government Chief Digital Officer role was published so I thought I would test my ideas against this high profile role!

Now for the record I’m not having a pop at the role! I think it is hugely important and challenging and I hope the Government gets an amazing candidate this is just a bit of an exercise to see how my ideas hold up against a real job description. The scores are just a gut reaction – there is no science involved.


  1. Salary information is not optional 

Great to see the salary clearly stated – this seems to be rare for roles of this profile so this should be commended. I thought they could have been more effusive about the other benefits but that is nit picking. 10/10

  1. Embrace remote working if you can and advertise your roles as such

Not remote which is a pity but it is nice to see Bristol and Manchester being offered up as locations as well as London.  6/10

  1. Use common job titles – and be true to them

I think this is good – Chief Digital Officer is a well understood role and this doesn’t feel like it is trying to subvert that common understanding. I mean it is one hell of a role and good luck to whoever gets it but I think this is an honest job title. 10/10

  1. Avoid generic job descriptions – be specific about the actual role

It is certainly not generic and it is better than the previous Government CDIO job description which this one replaces to all intents and purposes. It reads a bit like it has been translated from someone who understands the role by someone who doesn’t in places – “gov.uk communication portal” for instance. Really. 8/10

  1. Prioritise information about the job not the organisation (or their ‘journey’)

519 words before you get to anything about the actual job. 582 words about the job. 793 about the application process. So not only does the order of the information feel off balance but also the ratio. 3/10

  1. Link to supplementary information and background content

This is a real pity as it is all out there. So much of it. The Service Manual. The blogosts. Videos, podcasts, slide decks. Yet not a single link. I know it is all easy to find but a little collection of ‘best of..’ links would have been nice – especially if they are seeking to encourage applicants from outside of public service who might know a bit but lack the detail of the last few years of digital in government. 3/10

  1. Essential skills should mean that – it isn’t a wish list

Truth be told the Responsibilities and Person Specification feel a little light if anything given the scale of the role but that is better than seeking the elusive Unicorn. 9/10

  1. Clear English is your friend. Use Content Designers if you have them.

According to the Hemingway Editor the main doc reads as ‘Postgraduate’ level – which on the one hand is probably not wrong given the target audience but clear English is better for everyone. I know Hemingway is a bit of a blunt object but 25 sentences out of 49 being judged to be ‘hard to read’ isn’t great. 4/10

  1. Invest in really good jobs pages for your organisation.

The job is linked from Civil Service Jobs which is good – I was worried it was going to swerve that when it showed up on LinkedIn Jobs first. At the moment I haven’t seen a micro-site for the role which often happens when an Executive Search company are involved.

Also bit surprised to see the job description document being a .docx – thought that was a no-no according to the open standards guidance? 5/10

  1. Check for Race/Gender bias in ads / descriptions

Well they clearly didn’t do the Gender Bias checks – the main doc reads as ‘strongly masculine coded’ according to Kat Matfield’s Gender Decoder app. See the detail here → http://gender-decoder.katmatfield.com/results/a0f19011-7e56-491e-9c9c-cef273ab70f3

Honestly I’m not sure there is a simple test for Racial bias but given the Gender one doesn’t appear to have been considered I doubt any work was done here. 0/10


58/100

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