Department For International Trade: Securing the UK’s Future Trade Deals

The Department for International Trade (DIT) commissioned PeopleScout to help them with a key resourcing challenge. In preparation for the UK’s departure from the European Union, DIT needed to find a large volume of high-quality candidates to staff a new trade authority. Their dilemma lay in the fact that these roles hadn’t been seen in the UK for over 45 years, so candidates might struggle to understand whether they were qualified to do the jobs. Through the creation of an ‘match me’ innovative tool and targeted approach to supporting candidates, PeopleScout supported DIT in recruiting 75 exceptional individuals.


  • Dedicated account team
  • Creative candidate engagement
  • Bespoke tools
  • Exceptional candidates and enhanced diversity


In preparation for Brexit, The Department for International Trade (DIT) needed to create a Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) that would govern and monitor the UK’s future trade deals with the rest of the world. This newly created function needed around 75 exceptional Lawyers, Investigators and Economists to join them in their new Reading office.


We faced a complex challenge. Firstly, many candidates might not know which role they were best suited to, as these opportunities would be new concepts to them. Secondly, we had to populate a department that could operate post-Brexit.Thirdly, we faced an extremely tight deadline. PeopleScout and DIT agreed that a bespoke solution was needed.



We provided a dedicated account team that was responsible for every element of the process including: an attraction campaign, application management, assessment and selection material, a microsite, candidate management, interviewing making the offer and onboarding process including BPSS security checks. Crucially, we trained the team in how to deliver the right message, explaining what they could and could not say in case journalists tried to ‘apply’ for the roles to find out more about
this high-profile organisation


Our approach was two-fold. We combined free and paid-for advertising with a strong social media campaign. At the same time, we undertook a market mapping and candidate
identification activity whereby we engaged with key candidates directly. All activities ultimately directed candidates to our carefully crafted microsite which detailed the uniqueness of the roles.


As these roles were brand new in the UK, we developed a ‘Match Me’ tool that helped candidates understand the role that would best suit their ability, skillset and experience. We also devised a tailormade application process that included killer questions, an online SHL ability test (Numerical, Verbal and Inductive reasoning), a telephone or video interview, and a face-to-face assessment. Throughout the campaign, we provided DIT with weekly updates, reviewing the success of the campaign on a monthly basis.



From the start of the campaign in May 2018 to its completion in January 2019, we witnessed a staggering 47,522 visitors to the microsite, with 1,597 applications being made. Candidates remained engaged throughout the process, with an impressive 92% assessment centre attendance.


43% of candidates passed the assessment centre process, meaning that DIT were spoilt for choice. They eventually made 93 offers, with 75 of those being accepted. As a result, they now have 75 high-calibre members of staff who are committed to governing and monitoring the UK’s future trade deals.


Diversity was very high on the priority list for both DIT and PeopleScout, and while we didn’t have specific targets, we did track applications. To everyone’s delight our diversity statistics were extremely positive, with 38% of applicants being female, and 48% being BAME.